By and  on October 26, 2006

Jigsaw, the London-based women's apparel chain known for its reinterpreted classic designs, is expanding in California, the only state where it has freestanding stores.

On Tuesday, Jigsaw opened a 3,000-square-foot flagship on Beverly Drive in Beverly Hills. The company last month launched a 2,000-square-foot store on San Francisco's Fillmore Street.

The 37-year-old company operates two other retail locations in the state, both in the Los Angeles area, at the Paseo Colorado Mall in Pasadena and the Brentwood Country Mart in Brentwood.

"The West Coast has allowed us to work out who the Jigsaw customer is," said Los Angeles-based Edward Atterton, director of U.S. operations. "If we were in New York, we would have hit the ground running. Here we can control costs, and grow the company organically."

The Jigsaw boutique on Fillmore Street is next to Marc by Marc Jacobs and Shu Uemura stores, while the Beverly Hills space is opposite Ron Herman and down the street from Anthropologie. "Most of the Beverly Drive customers will be on foot, which will be a more boutique-y approach, similar to our stores in London," Atterton said.

The stores marry Twenties-inspired decor, including rows of vintage chandeliers, shabby-chic custom cabinetry and crystal vases filled with roses, with minimalism evidenced by low-key Asian area rugs, no-frills pendant lights illuminating merchandise and solid wood floors and shelving.

Kimmy Ratican, senior manager for the brand, said the success of the two-year-old Brentwood store, the company's first in the U.S., gave Jigsaw the confidence to grow in California. "We thought, if it was successful in Brentwood, which has a suburban-type feel, and is a lot like London in that way, it could be successful in other areas with that same feel," she said. "The climate in San Francisco is almost exact to London."

Still, the weather disparities between the U.K., Los Angeles and the Southeast, where Jigsaw operates seven shop-in-shops in Parisian department stores, prompted the brand to design pieces specifically for the U.S. market, including tissue-weight cashmere knits that retail for $148. Other key items in the fall collection include an angora rib sweater, $106, and a wool sweater dress, $126.Jigsaw is owned by husband and wife John and Belle Robinson, and is a favorite of Kate Middleton, Prince William's girlfriend. The company has 47 stores in the U.K., although "the number of stores there fluctuates between 45 and 50…they open and close, and are temporary spaces sometimes," Ratican said.

Atterton declined to give sales figures, but said he is "very pleased" with the performance of the U.S. stores. The Beverly Drive unit will also house the first headquarters for Jigsaw's U.S. division. Atterton added that there were no plans to bring Kew, Jigsaw's lower-priced line, to the U.S.

"We will always look for good opportunities on the West Coast, although we are considering the East Coast and Midwest, too," Atterton said. "But we don't want to rush. First we want to get these stores right."

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