NEW YORK — Shopping for luxury goods has long been a tactile experience.

And for Albert Kriemler, designer and owner of the Swiss fashion house Akris, creating a New York flagship that reflected a sensuous aesthetic was key. As a man who prefers to sketch with a piece of fabric in hand, the designer was intent on having shoppers “feel” the space.

“Opening a store in New York has been a big dream of mine for the last 20 years,” said Kriemler. “The idea was to have it be modern and warm. It should feel more like a home.”

The store, located at 835 Madison Avenue, opens today. The 4,000-square-foot space, designed by German architect Christoph Sattler, is infused with European elements such as blonde maple wood from Switzerland, limestone for the floors imported from a quarry in Spain and hand-applied Venetian plastered white walls.

The multilevel store is an exercise in modernity with muted tones, steel fixtures and chocolate-colored, modular leather chairs. The natural light provided by the original windows in the back of the space casts a domestic feel to the store. Yet Kriemler’s taste for the tactile is evident in the seamless beige wool carpet, a bone-colored leather covered wall, as well as black horsehair panels.

“It’s definitely more unusual than other shop concepts, but I felt very strongly that our stores have to have their own identity,” said Kriemler.

Curved walls were an important element in the space as well. Kriemler is an advocate of these kidney shaped niches in order to “to give a rectangular space a more human feel. It’s very important that there is a flow and a feeling in the stores.”

Although this is not Akris’ first foray into the American retail scene — it has a store in Boston and sells the label at Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bergdorf Goodman — the prominence of a Madison Avenue storefront certainly marks a major step in the company’s growth.

“It’s really important for us to open in New York because it exposes us to the public on a daily basis. Our collection and brand will be much more visible to people,” said Kriemler.The family-owned company, which was founded in 1922, is now run by the third generation — Albert and his brother Peter, who is the chief executive officer. While they declined to give volume figures, the Kriemlers are projecting first-year store sales of approximately $6 million.

Retail prices range from $500 to $800 for Akris daywear pieces, like tops and pants; $3,000 for suits, and $4,000 to $12,000 for evening pieces. Prices for Akris Punto, the lower-priced sportswear collection, range from $600 to $1,200 for jackets; $300 to $450 for tops and pants, and $200 to $900 for knits.

The company’s business is currently 80 percent wholesale and 20 percent retail. Despite having two freestanding boutiques in the U.S., the Kriemlers are focused on building up Akris shop-in-shops with their retailers like Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue, as well as with Canadian retailer Holt Renfrew.

Other Akris boutiques are located in Boston, Paris, Monte Carlo, Düsseldorf, Frankfurt, Seoul, Tokyo and Vienna. The Kriemlers plan to open additional stores in London, Munich, Hamburg, the Netherlands, Amsterdam and Brussels; as well as Asian locales like Japan, South Korea, Taiwan, Hong Kong, Shanghai and Beijing.

To access this article, click here to subscribe or to log in.

To Read the Full Article

Tap into our Global Network

Of Industry Leaders and Designers

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus