By  on October 21, 2010

Icebreaker, a New Zealand-based outdoor apparel brand, is opening a 2,500-square-foot flagship in Manhattan’s SoHo next month.

The brand, which was founded in 1994 and uses merino wool in all its offerings, is calling the unit a Touch Lab, a concept that has been successful in other parts of the world.

“It’s all about touch,” Jeremy Moon, founder and chief executive officer, said in an interview. “Everything we offer is wool, but it feels like silk. So we invite people to touch.”

Icebreaker began as a base-layer offering but has since expanded into underwear and outerwear.

The new store at 102 Wooster Street, between Spring and Prince Streets, will be across from a Patagonia store. It will be Icebreaker’s sixth full-price retail shop, including one in Portland, Ore., the site of its U.S. headquarters, as well as a unit in Montreal. The company also operates six outlets.

“We’ve been exploring retail in the past two to three years, primarily in New Zealand,” Moon said. “We’ve done well, but we needed something big and scary and exciting to raise the stakes. So we took a flagship site in SoHo.”

The store will carry the company’s complete product range, including travel, kids, underwear and city collections. In the spring, Icebreaker will expand into technical running and cycling apparel — both made from merino wool, which controls body temperature in all climates, is breathable and resists odor. “Our slogan is: ‘Think, Don’t Stink,’ ” Moon said. “We offer a natural alternative to synthetics.”

The running collection will include sleeveless T-shirts, crews, tank tops, shorts, tights and a racer-back sports bra. The cycling line will offer padded shorts and two styles of bike jerseys.

Moon said the goal is to eventually add more stores in the U.S. “We’re going to learn from this and then choose where we go next,” he said. “First, we define, then we refine and then we replicate. We’re very much in learning mode.”

Although the brand is sold in more than 2,000 stores in 37 countries, distribution in the New York area is limited. Icebreaker is sold at Paragon Sporting Goods and Eastern Mountain Sports.

Moon said he opted for SoHo because the neighborhood attracts a high concentration of healthy, fit shoppers that match Icebreaker’s target demographic.

The launch party for the store is slated for Dec. 1, with a soft opening the week before.

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