SINGAPORE — A kilt-wearing bagpipe player marched around Mulberry’s new flagship here on Wednesday evening as a crowd of camera-wielding fans surrounded the store singing: “The boys, the girls, they all love Lana.”
“Lana,” of course, was the American songstress and Mulberry ambassador Lana Del Rey. Dressed in a tiger-print wrap dress, she made a brief appearance at the 3,900-square-foot store’s ribbon-cutting ceremony. Post-costume change, into an ombré sequin dress, Del Rey later performed at a private dinner by the Singapore River.
On Tuesday, Mulberry Group plc’s shares lost almost a quarter of their value after the company issued a profit warning on slowing demand among the brand’s wholesale clients in Asia. Since then, the company’s shares have recovered slightly and trade near 10.5 pounds, or $16.60 at current exchange.
“It is always disappointing to have to issue a profit warning, but we are on the right track,” said Bruno Guillon, Mulberry’s ceo, in an interview in the limestone-tiled store. The boutique, which opened its doors Wednesday, is located next to Paul Smith and Marc by Marc Jacobs doors.
The executive remained upbeat about the brand’s international expansion plans. Guillon said the less-than-positive financial news would not affect Mulberry’s plans to open 20 new retail stores in the year to April. The company operates 41 retail stores internationally.
Currently 60 percent of Mulberry’s revenue is still generated in the U.K., a figure Guillon expects to dip to 20 percent in five years as the company expands elsewhere. “We see opportunity everywhere,” he said. He cited the small size of Mulberry’s Paris boutique and its limited number of stores in the U.S., where it operates six boutiques, as examples of room for growth.
Mulberry is 57 percent owned by Challice Ltd., which is controlled by Singaporean retail entrepreneur Christina Ong. Her daughter sits on the company’s board as a non-executive director. “They are a long-term shareholder, so we have the opportunity to build the brand on a long-term basis and, most importantly, do it properly,” Guillon said.
The executive said he sees the stagnating global economy as an opportunity for the brand. “I don’t know if people spend less, but they spend better,” he said. “So for us, recession is an opportunity.”
Alongside the pruning of certain wholesale accounts, Mulberry is building a second factory in Somerset, England. The plant, which will operate at full capacity by February 2014, will roughly double Mulberry’s production capacity in Britain.
Like Guillon, creative director Emma Hill hopes that provenance will prove a hit with Asian consumers.
“I would think Asians appreciate ‘Made in England’ more than anywhere else,” she said. “They have [been exposed so much to] ‘made in China’ that they want to buy into something more.”
As it enters the retail market in China later than competitors like Burberry Group plc, Mulberry has had difficulty acquiring desirable retail space in the country. “We want to be located next to the best people, so that we can compete with the best,” said Guillon. “When the economy is booming, landlords are open to talking about locations. In this market, they are more cautious, so it takes more time.”
Mulberry, which has one boutique there, will open three retail stores in China by April.
“There is a lot of work to do [about educating] the middle class in China about heritage and craftsmanship, but they are more than aware about [Brand] Britain,” he said.
Though Guillon said the company would offer customers everywhere a consistent retail experience, he acknowledged the increasingly important role of the Chinese male consumer, who tends to spend heavily on accessories. To that end, Mulberry recently hired a dedicated designer for men’s accessories.
“In women’s accessories, there are lots and lots of choices,” said Hill, who indicated that future men’s accessories would see more use of gunmetal and silver hardware, instead of just antique brass. “We want to make it the same for men. We’re really expanding the breadth.”
“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