LONDON — Richard James, the Savile Row tailor and a fixture on the London men’s calendar, is broadening its reach far beyond Mayfair.
The label, which opened on Savile Row in 1992, is notching annual growth of 10 percent, and plans are afoot to open a second rtw shop, in the City of London in September. The 800-square-foot store, which will also offer a made-to-measure service, will be located on Brushfield Street, off Liverpool Street.
“We’d been looking for about two years, and the shop is mainly for guys who are working in the City,” said Sean Dixon, co-founder of the business with the designer and tailor Richard James. Richard James had had a second store at the Royal Exchange, also in the City, but exited there about 10 years ago.
The company also plans to build up its roster of wholesale clients, which currently includes Harrods, Liberty, Selfridges, Barneys in New York and Las Vegas, Holt Renfrew, Lane Crawford in Hong Kong, and Isetan in Tokyo. It is now the biggest tailoring brand on Mr Porter.
“This is our fifth runway show, and we are really seeing all areas of the business starting to grow. We’ve barely scratched the surface with wholesale,” Dixon said, adding that Richard James is evolving into a lifestyle brand. Rtw and wholesale each account for 30 percent of sales, while bespoke generates 15 percent, and license fees make up the rest.
The company has been building on its small luggage collection, and will launch a full accessories line — including small leather goods and cufflinks — for fall, with Selfridges among stores to feature it. Dixon and James are overseeing accessories in-house.
Dixon said the Richard James rtw store — on Savile Row, across the street from the bespoke tailor shop — has also been a big driver behind accessories sales.
That store was refurbished last year by the architect Andy Martin, and boasts a cement floor with a semi-matte finish and a ceiling covered with stretched canvas, behind which are thousands of tiny LED lights. The effect is that of a light box — with brightness that can be adjusted to a variety of levels.
“Since refurbishing the shop, we’ve had a captive audience for accessories,” said Dixon. The shop format will be a template for future concessions and stores, with the exception of the Brushfield Street unit, which is a protected, historic building and has never before been used for retail. Dixon said he and James are mulling opening stores in New York and Hong Kong.
In July, the brand also plans to re-launch its Richard James Savile Row fragrance with a new distributor (the scent originally made its debut in 2004), and will unveil a new juice in early 2015.
Dixon said the category that is showing the biggest growth by far, however, is sportswear. “It’s taken a long time to develop the blocks that work, and the jackets are pared down with lighter shoulder pads, but they can also be worn in a formal way.”
E-commerce is also part of the future plan: Richard James is currently bringing the business in-house, and using its Savile Row rtw unit as a stockroom. Online customers will now get to shop directly from the rtw store.
Dixon said for the moment, there are no plans to sell a stake in the business.
“We like the fact that we’re a private company, but we acknowledge that it would take investment to grow, and we know how much competition is out there.” As for taking on any future investors he said: “We would just have to be smart about it.”
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
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