By and and and  on January 15, 2009

SUB, short for Selection of Unbelievable Beachwear, is São Paulo’s first multibrand swimwear store, located in the Shopping Cidade Jardim, the largest multibrand luxury center in South America. It opened in May.

What’s visually striking about the 753-square-foot, cube-shaped SUB is that it’s the only one of the SCJ’s 120 boutiques with no glass storefront, allowing shoppers to stroll in off the mall’s central open-air walkway.

What’s conceptually striking is its convenience. “Because most beachwear brands here have their own freestanding stores or boutiques in malls, SUB brings together many of those brands under one roof, thus providing young women who buy bikinis with one-stop shopping,” says owner Karla Sarquis. “This convenience is important because, as bikini brands change fits and styles every season, the average bikini shopper, unlike the average jeans buyer, is not brand faithful. She is after the bikini with style and fit that best suits her body. And that can mean trying on many brands.”

Labels available at SUB include Rosa Chá, Brazil’s most well-known beachwear brand, which shows at 7th on Sixth in New York, as well as Agua de Coco and Adriana Degreas, both of which show at São Paulo Fashion Week. SUB also has suits and after-beach apparel from smaller domestic labels such as Vix, Fernanda Niemeyer, Loér, Dibikini, Triya and Jo de Mer. Bikinis and one-piece suits run from $90 to $215.

The back wall’s floor-to-ceiling mirror is framed by wide strips of brass patchwork paneling, copper-colored mannequins and a rustic floor made from coconut-shell fiber.

Women who don’t like trying on bikinis in the store can ask SUB to deliver a selection of suits to try on at home. SUB expected to ring up 1.5 million reals, or $930,000 at current exchange, during its first six months—from last June to December.
—Mike Kepp

NEXT: Counter Intuitive at Volksbar, Berlin >>
Shops with a cafe in the corner are nothing new. But it’s not often you come across a space that is a clothes store, cafe, bar and nightclub rolled into one. Acting occasionally as a gallery, too, with the odd art exhibition now and then, Volksbar in Berlin leaves little to be desired.

Spread over two floors and 4,300 square feet, the venue opened in October and sells progressive upper-end streetwear for women and men by day, focusing on the more one-off or special edition designs of brands such as Adidas, Reebok, Puma, Nike and Carhartt. But as soon as night falls, the shoes and T-shirts are tidied away, the cash desk becomes a DJ booth and the glitter ball starts to turn.

Located on Schönhauser Allee, near Rosa-Luxembourg-Platz in the hip district of Mitte, Volksbar is within walking distance of the streetwear labels concentrated around Hackescher Markt, making it an attraction to tourists. And, with the ultrahip hangout White Trash next door, and the raucous 8mm bar across the road, the area has enough street cred to pull in the cool crowd.

The building was originally a bank, with the 19th-century vault now being used as an underground dance floor. More recently, the space also has served as both a gallery and a tattoo parlor. With walls covered in street art or raw brick and vintage Sixties and Seventies furniture, the decor manages to keep the remnants of these previous incarnations.

To attract more weekday punters, Volksbar soon will start hosting special culture events, such as art exhibitions. “Berliners are always looking for something new, continually want to learn something and want more content in their social life,” explains the venue’s manager, Max Weber, who believes so-called mix concepts work particularly well in Berlin. “People in this city like it if they’re not quite sure what a place is supposed to be. They walk past here and they see shoes in the window, but it also looks like a bar, so it makes them curious.”

With an abundance of commercial space and cheap rents, new bars and stores are constantly popping up all over Berlin, so the competition to come up with the next best creative idea is fierce. This means that—at least for the time being—innovation might be this city’s most precious commodity.
—Damien McGuinness

NEXT: Counter Intuitive at Fornarina, Milan >>

With an aggressive retail strategy, a new concept store and an international celebrity—Lindsay Lohan—to help boost its visibility, Fornarina steadily is growing into a comprehensive apparel and footwear brand with global clout. In February, the Italian label will launch its Lindsay bag, a clutch in metallic leather, in silver or electric blue, dedicated to the young star.

“Lindsay embodies our soul and spirit—independent, brilliant, young and irreverent, with a rock-diva edge,” says Lino Fornari, founder and chairman of Fornari SpA, which manufactures the line.

The ad campaign featuring Lohan, shot by Musati+Aimone at the Stahl House in Los Angeles, will break in the spring. The fashion pairing was first revealed in Paris in May at the Fornarina Urban Beauty Show—the company’s staple event that blends fashion, art and music.

The connection with Lohan is also in line with one of Fornari’s top priorities now: to grow Fornarina’s business in the U.S. This market accounts for 5 percent of sales, which, in 2007, reached 170 million euros, or $232.9 million at the average exchange rate for the period.

The brand’s Los Angeles boutique is being remodeled after the new concept stores that were unveiled in Palermo, Italy, and Westfield, London, in mid-October. The new retail design comprises four different and distinct areas: the Rock Out Wall, the Denim Bar, the Powder Room and the Total Look Area. The Rock Out Wall is inspired by music clubs, with black furniture, a vivid red backdrop, a wall of speakers and stagelike lighting; the Denim Bar is dedicated to Fornarina’s five-pocket jeans with a bar atmosphere and Champagne bottles displayed as accessories; the Art Deco glass, silver and gold Powder Room showcases shoes, bags, jewelry and eyewear, and the Total Look Area takes center stage to deliver the brand’s style and mood.

Fornari’s retail focus will translate into the opening of 30 stores this year. There are 29 Fornarina stores in Italy and 96 outside the country. Fornari spearheaded the firm’s expansion around the world and was one of the first Italian entrepreneurs to enter the Chinese market, personally moving to China in 1984. His business in China now totals 70 stores and represents 10 percent of Fornarina’s sales.

Fornarina, founded in 1947 in Italy’s central Marche region by Fornari’s grandfather as a footwear manufacturer, over the years has expanded its product offering, becoming a lifestyle brand known for bright prints, T-shirts with quirky vignettes and edgy jeans. The denim division accounts for about a third of the company’s revenues. Fornarina increasingly has associated its name with the entertainment, music and film industries, and turned to artists for inspiration and limited edition collections. Case in point: For spring 2009, Fornarina collaborated with six artists, including Japanese artist Junko Mizuno and Dutch tattooist Angelique Houtkamp.

“People make the difference. People are the strength of a company,” says Fornari. “[My company is] a tight-knit group who has worked together for many years—much like a sports team—with the occasional addition of fresh, new talent.”
—Luisa Zargani

NEXT: Counter Intuitive at Tecktonik, Paris >>
With the frenetic boom emitting from its sound system and hordes of twitching teenagers spilling out onto the pavement outside, one could easily mistake the world’s first Tecktonik store for a nightclub—or an audition for a 21st-century Fame sequel.

Situated on Rue Turbigo in the popular Les Halles district in Paris, the opening marks the first retail site for the Paris-made dance craze that was invented—and branded—by Cyril Blanc and Alexandre Barouzdin in 2000. With a brushed-metal interior, exposed metal beams, mini motorbikes and piled-up shopping trolleys filled with merch, the store boasts racks of Tecktonik clothes, a hairdressing salon, flashing TV screens and a DJ booth. It’s set to be exported across the globe over the next couple of years, with openings planned for Los Angeles, Tokyo, Berlin and Casablanca.

In France, where around 12 percent of 18- to 25-year-olds are considered Tecktonik followers, the phenomenon caught fire via videosharing sites such as Dailymotion and YouTube.

The European craze borrows from a hodgepodge of dance influences, such as voguing and break-dancing. “Before, if you wanted to hear a particular kind of music from Belgium, Holland and Germany, you had to go to specific venues. Here, the idea is that, in one night, you can hear house, electro, jumpstyle [a dance style that originated in Belgium in the Nineties]. There’s no separation,” says Barouzdin. “We’ve just created Tecktonik Brazil and Japan and are developing Tecktonik Moscow.”

He insists that a desire to party, as opposed to moneymaking schemes, drives the mission. A stint working in sales at Merrill Lynch inspired him to spin a business angle on the project, he explains, adding that things really took off two years ago when he and Blanc hooked up with the music label EMI. Since then, clothing co-branding deals have started to roll in, including those with Reebok and Swatch.

But the founders’ aim, Barouzdin stresses, is to focus on emerging talent, commissioning Tecktonik pieces from up-and-comers such as Japan’s Dog, France’s Romain Kremer and Berlin’s Paul Snowden. And the right look counts just as much as striking the right move.

“Just like the arrival of hip-hop, which brought with it a set of sartorial codes, Tecktonik is an ensemble. It’s equally about the hair, the moves, the clothes,” he says, adding that Tecktonik’s neo-mohawk coifs, ultraslim jackets and neon colors were originally inspired by the punk era.

A recent video clip featuring Tecktonik dancers by the French pop star Yelle, who was outfitted by Jean-Charles de Castelbajac, further sparked the craze for all things DayGlo, Barouzdin says.

“It’s cool to be able to stand apart from the crowd. People here tend to stick to classic clothes,” says Jimmy Medina, a 19-year-old dancer who goes by the name of Milliard (or Billion, in English). Sucking on a lollipop at a recent DJ event held in the store, Medina paired a bright blue-and-yellow Adidas tracksuit with a white knitted ski cap that he picked up in “a girl’s shop.”

“My favorite outfit to dance in is a pair of skinny Levi’s, my Reeboks and a graphic Cassette Playa sweatshirt,” says France’s leading Tecktonik dancer, Treaxy, 19, who sports a square-top haircut. The teenager has been following the craze since he was 10 years old. “I kind of have my own personal style—I’m at dance school, so I’m influenced by classic, jazz and contemporary styles,” he notes, adding that the burgeoning Tecktonik craze has led him to travel all around the globe. “It’s definitely changed my world.”
—Katya Foreman

NEXT: Yoga Bearer >>

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