The brand, which has had a European and Asian focus for the last five years, is trying to make an impact with larger, architecturally significant stores and an edgy new advertising and image campaign.
A three-level, 15,000-square-foot Esprit flagship is set to open at 21-25 West 34th Street here in March. It will be Esprit’s largest store in North America and second largest worldwide. When it bows, the flagship will be Esprit’s fifth unit in Manhattan. Existing stores are in the Flatiron District, Fifth Avenue, SoHo and Columbus Circle.
The new flagship will offer men’s casual, men’s collection, women’s casual, women’s collection, women’s EDC and men’s and women’s accessories.
Esprit in October launched its new retail concept based on the Memphis design on Hong Kong’s Peking Road. With dark metal perforated banners embedded with glass lenses,the facade is an interactive display. Inside, optical effects such as Memphis patterns used in earlier stores are juxtaposed with tactile materials like coarse oak.
Since acquiring the American rights for the brand in 2003, Hong Kong-based Esprit Holdings Ltd. has increased sales almost 250 percent and operating profits almost 350 percent. Preliminary figures for the first nine months of 2009 showed sales contracting 8 percent to 9.37 billion Hong Kong dollars, or $1.21 billion at average exchange rates for the period. Retail comp-store sales slipped 3.5 percent.
Esprit reentered the U.S. five years ago. The brand’s presence is small but growing, with just over a dozen stand-alone stores, mostly on the East Coast. A 4,500-square-foot store opened in Santa Monica, Calif., in April. Esprit in August unveiled a unit in Philadelphia on Walnut Street.
The company is trying to recapture Esprit’s glory days when founders Doug and Susie Tompkins, who were then husband and wife, were running the company. Besides the Memphis-inspired new store design — Esprit’s first store was designed by Memphis style founder Ettore Sottsass — the spring-summer advertising and image campaign is reminiscent of past campaigns of the brand.
Daisy Lowe and Julia Restoin-Roitfeld are the faces of the new campaign, chosen to appeal to its young demographic. Lowe, the daughter of Pearl Lowe and Bush front man Gavin Rossdale, is the face of EDC by Esprit. Restoin-Roitfeld, the face of Esprit’s women casual range, is the daughter of Carine Roitfeld, editor in chief of French Vogue.
Ronald Van der Vis, executive director and group chief executive officer, said the campaign will show customers “that Esprit has grown into an international lifestyle brand.” Esprit is advertising internationally; however, in the U.S., the images won’t be used in advertising but instead will be used in stores and promotional materials, and will be shown on esprit.com and Facebook.
Lowe’s images were shot in a car graveyard outside Los Angeles to reflect the youthful spirit of the clothes. Restoin-Roitfeld was shot with a larger group of models walking through the Californian desert.
“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
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast