By  on April 24, 2007

NEW YORK — Ed Hardy is expanding its tattoo-inspired apparel and accessories in lower Manhattan.

An 1,800-square-foot store on West 13th Street in the Meatpacking District has been popular, and now the company is opening a two-level 5,500-square-foot flagship at 40 Mercer Street in SoHo in June.

Henry Mandell, president and chief operating officer of Ed Hardy, said he expects the SoHo store to do $10 million in sales in its first year.

"The new store is designed to showcase the whole Ed Hardy lifestyle," Mandell said. "It's extensively merchandised for men's, women's and kids', with very strong shoe collections and licensed products such as watches, eyewear and cashmere."

The Ed Hardy collection is designed by Christian Audigier, who is best known for Von Dutch, the brand he left in 2004. Audigier started his own company after being granted exclusive rights to work with the designs of tattoo artist Don Ed Hardy, whose versatility includes the American, Japanese and cholo styles as well as surf and hot-rod iconography.

Ed Hardy, which was founded last year, had sales of $70 million in 2006. The company plans new stores for the Beverly Center in Los Angeles and Lincoln Road in Miami.

"We want to have a very strong presence in New York and Los Angeles," Mandell said. "We utilize our stores as lightning rods for publicity and celebrities. Celebrities come and get taken care of very well. We don't keep the celebrities away from the people. We have no VIP areas. Ed Hardy is for everyone,'' which includes age groups from preteen to fortysomething.

"It's edgy but fun at the same time,'' Mandell said. "It's dangerous, but also it's safe. You can make a statement."

The collection includes a foil T-shirt with the image of a geisha for $79; a hoodie with an allover tiger print, $143; cowboy boots for $279, and leather pumps with rose graphics, $99. There's also something called Adam Saaks Couture. Saaks' hand-cut dresses are slashed, slit and stitched and sell for $549.

Tattoos are having a fashion moment. But Mandell said Ed Hardy will be around longer. "What differentiates a brand that can endure from a moment is authenticity," he said. "Don Ed Hardy has a 40-year body of work. There's a lot of creativity, a lot of bright colors. It struck a chord with consumers."The Meatpacking District store has become something of a hangout. The company holds parties and events there and hires a DJ on weekends. "It has more of a hard-core Ed Hardy customer,'' Mandell said.

The SoHo flagship, he hopes, will raise Ed Hardy's profile and appeal to new customers.

Peter Braus, executive vice president of Sierra Realty, who represented the building owner, said Ed Hardy is moving onto a prime block. "Vivienne Tam signed a lease at 40 Mercer Street," he said. "Ugg opened up the block. I heard that Nike might be opening a store a block away."

The Ed Hardy store will face the Mercer Street entrance of Scoop's new Broadway megastore.

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