By and  on August 1, 2011

LOS ANGELES — Lanvin has gone on vacation to Malibu.

The French fashion house opened its second Southern California store on Saturday at Malibu Village, a shopping center that’s been filling up of late with shops by Missoni, Nike Inc.’s Salvation and Super by Dr. Perricone. The Lanvin store is the result of a strategy to enlarge the brand’s presence in vacation destinations to keep luxury consumers purchasing Lanvin’s products when they are away from their hometowns during the summer.

“Last year, we started our test of what we call a seasonal store that was in Saint-Tropez. It went so well with easy-to-wear pieces that we decided to replicate it in Malibu,” said Lanvin chief executive officer Thierry Andretta. Unlike the Saint-Tropez outpost that runs from June to October, the Malibu store will operate year-round, although it is expected to be open only on weekends in the winter unless sales dictate otherwise.

In the future, Andretta said Lanvin would consider placing these seasonal stores in vacation areas such as the Hamptons and Portofino, as well. “It is something that I think we can do more often, but we need to find opportunities in the right spots,” he said. “We have a really good customer base that is traveling and visiting these kind of locations.”

At roughly 600 square feet, Lanvin’s Malibu store is the smallest in its growing North American retail fleet and cost less than half of what Lanvin typically spends to construct its stores. It takes a much larger footprint of about 3,000 square feet to showcase Lanvin’s entire men’s and women’s collections. In its small space, the Malibu store has a very tightly edited selection of around 500 stockkeeping units to suit the summery tastes of local shoppers and tourists. Malibu Village stores are estimated to generate about $2,000 a square foot in sales per year, but the figure for the Lanvin store could be lower since the store isn’t open full-time throughout the year.

The Malibu store’s initial assortment contains best-selling items from the spring and pre-fall 2011 line-ups, including day dresses, silk and jersey separates, swimwear and warm-weather-appropriate accessories like straw beach totes and raffia sandals. Prices in the store range mostly from $200 to $4,000. Three to four staff members rotate between Lanvin’s Beverly Hills and Malibu stores.

Alber Elbaz puts a local spin on store design in each Lanvin location and palm trees decorating the Malibu store give it a California feel. But the store also has Lanvin’s signature retail design concepts, notably a sitting area at its center with a zebra rug, Louis XV-style sofa and chairs, mirrored coffee table and an Art Deco chandelier, brushed steel panels, blackened steel bookcases and metal and glass display cases.

Andretta indicated Lanvin had confidence to open in Malibu because of the success of its store on Rodeo Drive, which he said is “a little over our expectations,” and his experience with international visitors to Malibu. “I personally like to have lunch there because it is totally California, and it is really easy,” said Andretta. “You really have an international crowd. In August, I was there, and I ate dinner at Nobu. It was an early dinner in the California way. It was at 6:30 or 7 p.m., and when I was coming out, I [ran into Fiat head of brand promotions] Lapo Elkann. He said to me, ‘Every time I come to California, I stop at this place.’”

Andretta expects the Malibu store to be profitable in its first year. Overall, Lanvin’s stores registered a same-store sales increase of 32 percent last year, and he said same-store sales have continued on a double-digit growth pace this year. Within the next five years, he added, Lanvin projects its store count in the U.S. will double from five to 10. The brand has been scouting New York locations for a men’s unit, which it hopes to open during the first half of 2012, and Andretta said possible upcoming locations for the brand on the West Coast could be in Orange County and San Francisco.

However, most of Lanvin’s retail expansion will be outside the U.S. Next up for the brand’s retail openings is a 1,000-square-foot store in The Peninsula Beijing hotel and two Moscow locations under a franchise arrangement with the Mercury Group. Next year, Andretta said Lanvin could add accessories-only stores to the retail mix and is targeting duty-free locations — he mentioned Seoul specifically — to inaugurate that concept. In total, Andretta estimated Lanvin has about 25 franchised stores, 25 brand-owned stores and 50 in-store shops.

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