NEW YORK — Arthur, a 300-square-foot shop selling high-quality pajamas and beach wear with whimsical French patterns, opened here this month.
The store, located at 922 Madison Avenue, near 73rd Street, is owned by Roman Okin, a former venture capitalist who discovered the brand while vacationing in the South of France last summer with his partner, Gene Freidman and Freidman’s young son, Dylan. The store is anticipated to generate sales of $1 million in its first year.
During a boat ride to Cannes, Freidman realized he forgot to bring Dylan’s teddy bear and knew it wasn’t wise to separate the two. In Cannes, they spotted a teddy bear in the window of Arthur. The bear wasn’t for sale, but the store made an exception. As Freidman negotiated for the toy, Okin checked out the Arthur merchandise. Enamored of the brand, Okin called the company when he got back to the U.S., and last fall returned to France to negotiate a master license agreement for North America.
Arthur, which operates 50 stores in France, had been looking for a way to enter the U.S. market. Okin said he is negotiating for a space at the new Plaza Retail Collection here, and is “aggressively looking for other locations in Manhattan, including Bleecker Street or West Fourth Street in the West Village, Prince Street or West Broadway in SoHo, Madison Avenue in the Eighties and the Upper West Side.” He also plans to open units on Michigan Avenue in Chicago and in East Hampton, N.Y. and Greenwich and Westport, Conn.
“There’s enough of a market to have 150 stores in the U.S. and 50 more in Canada,” said Okin, who plans to open four to five stores this year.
The Arthur collection is family-oriented, with mother-and-daughter nightdresses, pajamas and robes. Women’s pj’s range in price from $160 to $240. Pajamas for kids are $120 for cotton and $160 for flannel. Robes are $159 for cotton and $325 for plush terry. The beach collection includes swimsuits, beach robes, beach dresses, linen pants and children’s bathing suits. Velour sweatsuits for women and kids’ come in brown and pink.
Okin said a catalogue and e-commerce site are in the works.
This story first appeared in the March 26, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
“My partner and I were looking for something in apparel retail,” Okin said. “We wanted to get into something we could feel and touch. This is a niche product. I don’t think it has any competition.”