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Brazil’s NK Heads to Rio

RIO DE JANEIRO — NKstore has a new location — and it’s generating a lot of buzz because of it.<br><br>The retailer, which previously was in a residential neighborhood, has now moved to São Paulo’s Jardins district,...

RIO DE JANEIRO — NKstore has a new location — and it’s generating a lot of buzz because of it.

The retailer, which previously was in a residential neighborhood, has now moved to São Paulo’s Jardins district, Brazil’s version of Madison Avenue.

The store, at Rua Sarandi 34, in the heart of the Jardins, stands out amongst its neighboring shops — Max Mara, Christian Dior, Giorgio Armani, Versace and Kenzo — because of its glossy, reflective, black-glass facade that features only NKstore’s logo written in small black letters by a small white door.

The interior of the four-story, 7,500-square-foot store is also modern, but in such stark contrast to its all-black exterior that entering the store gives one a jolt. Its sunny interior (there’s a pyramidal skylight on the roof) is nearly all white, including white marble floors, and is filled with palms and other plants. The first floor features a square concrete pool spanned by a concrete bridge, as well as a bar and lounge area where clients are served lunch, compliments of the house. The top floor features a wooden deck used for throwing parties for new collections.

Nkstore carries a limited mix of its own Nkstore brand; top Brazilian bikini lines like Rosa Cha and Anika Brazil; a few other local brands such as Marcelo Quadros evening dresses, and eight foreign labels, mostly from the United States and Italy, which include Catherine Malandrino, Language, Marc Jacobs, Blumarine, Just Cavalli, Diesel, Anna Molinari and Dolce & Gabbana.

Natalie Klein, the store’s owner and designer of its Nkstore brand, said that she prefers to buy U.S. and Italian labels, especially brands with lines that cater to young women around 30, because “Brazilian young women like foreign labels that reflect their modern tastes and fit better than, say, French brands.”

While these brands are also a bit less expensive than most of the other large foreign brands nearby, they nonetheless target a similar high-end clientele. Diesel’s more basic designer jeans retail for $120 and Just Cavalli’s printed and beaded jeans retail for around $120 to $300, but the store’s D&G special-washed jeans can run between $300 and $700, Anna Molinari and Blumarine eveningwear can cost between $800 and $2,000, Catherine Malandrino pieces run from $400 to $1,000 and Language items range from $800 for a lace skirt to $2,000 for a rabbit-fur jacket.

This story first appeared in the December 31, 2002 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Nkstore’s private label clothing and accessories — everything from designer jeans ($80), embroidered knitwear ($100), a silk skirt with ruffles ($120), leather skirts ($300) and jackets ($450), shoes ($100) and purses ($120) — cost considerably less than the foreign labels and echo their young, modern look, which is why the store’s clients often shop by mixing and matching Nkstore and foreign labels, Klein said.

The Jardins store, which opened in August and attracts some 250 people a day, will sell 30 percent more than the $4 million in sales rung up last year, when Klein’s store was located in a more residential part of São Paulo — well outside the hub of Brazilian fashion shopping, she said. That store, which opened in 1997, carried the same foreign labels, except for Marc Jacobs and D&G, the two new additions since Nkstore switched locations.

“We now have a much better location, in ‘the’ fashion shopping district of São Paulo, rather than a residential neighborhood, which is why we’re growing, even at a time when the local currency is devaluing quickly against the U.S. dollar,” said Klein. “It’s hard to boost sales of foreign labels, given that the local currency has depreciated against the dollar by close to 100 percent in the last five months. I’d say that if there hadn’t been a devaluation, we’d be growing much faster than we are.”