RIO DE JANEIRO — In Brazil, where fashion labels are generally content to serve the domestic market and rarely seek foreign footholds, a couple of brands are getting aggressive about breaking out.
Osklen, a major Brazilian beach/board/casual brand, has opened a store in New York's SoHo, with rival Rosa Chá to follow suit next February, as both labels continue to push abroad.
Osklen invested $300,000 to open its 1,700-square-foot store at 97 Wooster Street last month. It is stocked with its summer collection, including a 700-piece mix of fashion-forward beachwear, surfboard and snowboard apparel and chic casualwear, everything from suede pants to silk organza day-into-evening dresses.
Osklen designer Oskar Metsavaht said he chose to open his first wholly owned foreign store in SoHo because "New York is the fashion capital of the U.S. and there is a market there for my style of clothes — chic sportswear from a tropical country that appeals to Americans. I estimate the SoHo store will initially gross around $1.3 million a year."
Since Osklen began in 1989, it has mushroomed into a chain of 40 boutiques in Brazil (20 wholly owned and 20 franchises), and also sells to 200 multibrand stores in Brazil. Globally, aside from its SoHo store, Osklen has six franchise stores — three in Portugal, one each in Milan, Geneva and Rome — and sells to 60 multibrand or department stores in the European Union and Japan. Osklen's gross revenues in 2006 were $53 million, only 3 percent of which came from exports.
Still, Osklen's seven foreign stores give it a large Brazilian fashion presence abroad. The only other Brazilian designers with overseas stores are Rosa Chá, Carlos Miele, with a Chelsea district Manhattan boutique, and Alexandre Herchcovitch, who opened his first foreign store in Tokyo last February. Osklen will also open a Tokyo outlet next March with H.P. France, a clothing distributor and retailer for the Japanese market, H.P. France is also Herchcovitch's Tokyo store partner.
Meanwhile, Rosa Chá's 1,300-square-foot SoHo store will also be its first wholly owned foreign foothold, and will require a $500,000 investment, unlike its three franchise stores in Lisbon (2004), Miami (2005) and Istanbul (this past May). Rosa Chá also plans to open a franchise in Cancun, Mexico, by the end of the year. Its SoHo store, also to boast a mezzanine showroom, will be stocked with the label's 450-piece summer 2008 collection, to be shown at 7th on Sixth in September.
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