PARIS — When the Hong Kong retailer I.T Ltd. bought the Japanese label A Bathing Ape six years ago, the move symbolized the growing weight of Asia for fashion-related M&A activity.Now, the upscale streetwear brand — known for its cult-like following — is setting up its first store in France. The new Bape store is both a response to demand from French consumers and an effort to fortify local legitimacy for the label in France, explained Billy Choi, chief executive of the brand’s parent company Nowhere Co., and Guillaume Pats, a Galeries Lafayette executive charged with directing the brand in France.Flashing a photo of someone wearing a shark-toothed hoodie in a Paris setting that garnered over 6,000 likes, Pats noted that the label’s French Instagram account had 20,000 subscribers a month after it was created. The figures illustrate the logic behind bringing the label to the country.“We said ‘hmmm, this is interesting,’ — there’s an underlying trend that is coming from Asia, from Japanese and South Korean trendsetters,” Pats mused in an interview.Pats had braved early morning rush hour traffic to drive into the city center with a Jaguar outfitted in the label’s signature camouflage motif in hues of the French flag: blue, white and red. He wore a black cardigan with a small brown ape head patch while Choi sported a white-toned sweatshirt in the camouflage pattern — American cotton — with patches of white fluorescence and a matching cap.The pair initially considered bringing the label to France a year ago, with Pats prodding Choi, who responded positively after noticing an uptick in orders from France over the previous six months.“It’s a Japanese label but a kind of global brand, street label, ” said Choi.“There are not too many, just a few labels in the top tier — we’re in the top tier,” he asserted, also citing Supreme and Stussy.The executive has worked for I.T Ltd. for 14 years; a company that started out as a shop in Hong Kong introducing new brands to locals, moving on to expand into mainland China. It operates stores for a wide range of brands, including high-end European labels as well as its own multi-label branches.For the past four years, I.T has been managing Galeries Lafayette’s Beijing outpost, a joint venture belonging to the two retailers. This explains how Pats and Choi — who recently attended a Paris Saint Germain soccer match together — knew each other.Here, in the case of the Bape store, management roles are reversed, with Galeries Lafayette taking ownership of the Bape brand in France.The pair criss-crossed streets in Paris to view possible store spaces with I.T chief executive officer Sham Kar Wai before settling on the location: Rue de la Verrerie, a street running parallel to the Rue de Rivoli near the capital’s City Hall.Outfitted in white marble with a sparse backdrop for the colorful caps, T-shirts and sweatshirts, the store also features works by Adam Lister, the artist known for exaggerated pixel renderings of famous paintings.Another store is scheduled to open on Melrose Avenue in L.A. early next year, according to Choi.The challenge for high-end street brands such as Bape, is to find the right balance, said Pats.“The appeal draws from limited distribution. It is important they have a certain scalability in order to exist on the global market, without going too far in order not to lose appeal…it’s quite complicated,” he noted.Founded by the Tomoaki Nagao, known as Nigo, in 1993, the brand's notoriety was boosted by a partnership with singer-producer Pharrell Williams.I.T stepped in to buy the label, which was struggling financially, in 2011. It restructured the business and shifted much of its production from China to Japan, bringing back profitability in six months. When announcing the purchase, Sham said the company wanted to bolster business in China as well as tap into international markets.In addition to Japan, where it has the right balance in terms of store numbers, Choi noted, the brand has a handful of stores in China and is also sold in Taiwan, Singapore and Thailand. The success of the store in N.Y., which was established 13 years ago, was one of the reasons for seeking to set up in L.A., he added.
EXCLUSIVE: Two and half months after John Targon, cofounder and codesigner of Baja East, was hired as creative director of the contemporary division at Marc Jacobs, he has left the company, WWD has learned. Marc Jacobs International, which is owned by LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, confirmed Targon’s departure in a statement: “John Targon is a talented designer and we appreciate the work he has done here. Ultimately working together did not make sense for the brand and we wish him the best.” Read the story by @jessiredale, link in bio. #wwdnews
@theluxurycollection is officially launching a collection, tapping Sofia Sanchez de Betak for the capsule. Over 30 styles will be featured in the Chufy x The Luxury Collection, debuting next month at Bergdorf Goodman, The Webster, FiveStory and more. De Betak, known as “@chufy,” drew inspiration for the collection from her trips to Japan in the past year #wwdfashion
@lhd, founder and CEO of @thewebster, has teamed up with @lebonmarcherivegauche for the European launch of her ready-to-wear line, LHD. The launch will come with an exclusive pop-up opening today that’s set to run through May 20. Located on the second floor, it carries her debut Miami-themed resort collection, launched in November as see-now-buy-now. #wwdfashion
@longchamp, which marks its 70th anniversary this year, just opened its biggest U.S. store on Manhattan’s Fifth Avenue. On the lower level there’s a floor-to-ceiling display of the brand’s iconic Le Pliage bag – in all of its different colors, shapes and sizes. Customers can also have their product personalized in-store by imprinting names, initials or emblems. #wwdfashion (📷: @ericmtownsend)
“Whenever I’m in that place of sound and music, I don’t have fear or nervousness…This album has a lot of themes of courage and boldness and I want to be the soundtrack for people’s lives. I’ll be so happy if [my songs] evoke strength in people, which I know music has done for me,” says @kimbramusic of her newest album “Primal Heart.” The New Zealand-born singer sat down with WWD to talk about her music, newest tour and connecting with hear fans — read more on WWD.com #wwdeye (📷: @jilliansollazzo)
Luxury handbag resale company @rebagofficial is planning to sell a rare collectible for $70,000: the @hermes White Crocodile Himalayan Birkin. The exclusive Birkin sold for about $100,000 in 2008, when @davidbeckham bought one for his wife @victoriabeckham to add to her collection. Read more about the rare Birkin on WWD.com #wwdaccessories
With her costume pearl necklace and what-you-see-is-what-you-get style, Barbara Bush, who died Tuesday at age 92, was a straight-shooter from start to finish.
Born Barbara Pierce in New York City, Bush served as the 37th first lady, as well as the country’s second lady from 1981 to 1989. In addition to being part of the longest presidential marriage — 73 years — Bush also had the unlikely distinction of having one son, George W., become the 43rd president and another son, Jeb, run unsuccessfully in 2016. Having served as second lady during the Reagan administration’s two terms and lived all over the world during her own husband’s ascending political career, Barbara Bush made it clear that literacy — not fashion — was her priority. Read more from Rosemary Feitelberg’s obituary on the late First Lady in WWD.com, link in bio. #barbarabush #wwdnews
Western and ’90s trends have influenced denim for fall 2018. Think raw, dark and coated jeans mixed with bold prints and tough leather. #trendtuesdays #wwdfashion (Styled by @thealexbadia;📷: @ryanplett)