By and  on May 2, 2008

With its flirty attitude and glittery club-inspired sportswear, Kira Plastinina today makes its U.S. retail debut by opening a 3,500-square-foot flagship in Manhattan's SoHo.

"We want to convey great energy and something that's very different," said Robert Higgins, president of U.S. operations for Kira Plastinina, the collection named for the 15-year-old Russian girl who designs it. "We took inspiration from the stores in Russia and from Russian history. There's a richness to the colors and design."

Kira Plastinina plans to roll out four more stores this month and next in the Los Angeles area and one in Stamford, Conn., with a total of 12 to 15 slated to be operating in the U.S. by yearend.

At the SoHo flagship, there's a girlish, candy-store quality, with the pervasive pink decor, brocade-patterned wallpaper, the scripted Kira Plastinina logo just behind the wrap desk, a circular "pouffe" seating banquette, a photo booth that's free and even a Dylan's Candy Bar outpost.

An 8-foot-wide trend wall features several items suitable for clubbing, including novelty sequined or stud-detailed tops, short skirts and silver jackets. Mannequins across the 2,200 square feet of selling space feature bestsellers, often dresses, such as a silk draped tunic with a side tie, $98; a crinkled satin dress with a puff cap shoulder and long knit sleeve, $68, and Kira's signature striped sequined jumper, $62.

Other bestsellers include the satin "bat wing" jacket, $68, which can double as a top or a layering piece, and cotton pullovers with "monster" characters, $54.

Overall, the business is driven by dresses, novelty tops, short skirts, jackets and active looks, with a junior and contemporary appeal, though there are also some accessories and denims will be played up more for back-to-school.

While there's ample merchandise, the shop is not suffocated with product, and the 17-foot ceilings provide a sense of spaciousness. There's also an 800-square-foot balcony, called Kira's bedroom, which will be used to isolate sale merchandise and stage special events.

"You're not going to see a volume of styles," said Ron Barajas, vice president of merchandising. "There is not a lot of each on display. It's meant to be special so every week to two weeks we are going to have a new store and give her a reason to come back shopping again."There are a total of about 700 styles in the collection and an estimated 3,500 stockkeeping units, he added.

On Saturday and Sunday, the company is guerilla-marketing the flagship, with a pink ice-cream truck driving through SoHo, distributing free ice cream, Dylan's lollipops and invitations to receive free T-shirts.

Officials at Kira Plastinina cite sales of $1,000 a square foot in the Russian shops, and believe the SoHo flagship, located between Houston and Prince Streets, can hit $3 million in sales. It will be challenging to reach such levels in the U.S. considering the economy. However, of any demographic, teens are still populating the malls and apt to be curious about a new concept.

Kira Plastinina is backed by her father, Sergey Plastinin, a tycoon in the diary and fruit business.

"He's a gentleman with a great sense of urgency," said Marvin Traub, a consultant for Kira Plastinina on the U.S. rollout.

On Wednesday, a store opens in Stamford, followed by units this month in Los Angeles on Beverly Drive, Robertson Boulevard and in the Beverly Center. A fourth on Santa Monica's Third Street Promenade is to open in June. The stores range in size from 1,200 to 3,200 square feet.

"Because of their aggressive nature and commitment to their schedule, they're finding the best locations in the market right now," said Jay Luchs, a broker for CB Richard Ellis who was involved in the Los Angeles sites.

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