By  on August 6, 2007

In Tokyo, brands reach high. And Abercrombie & Fitch Co. will be no exception.

The retailer's Tokyo flagship, scheduled to open in late 2009, will be tall and imposing, like the muscular, shirtless models featured in Abercrombie's audacious advertising.

The company is creating an 11-story flagship — by far its most vertical project — on the western side of the bustling Ginza district, where the chain has just leased a site, WWD has learned. A&F is joining the rush of brands to build megastores in the Japanese capital, from Bottega Veneta to Fendi, Swatch to Giorgio Armani, which late last month revealed plans to open a 65,000-square-foot, 14-story flagship in Ginza. Gucci has an eight-story glass complex, Apple reaches seven stories high and Hermès blends right in with a 10-story flagship. And the stores are getting increasingly expensive: Swatch's unit cost a reported $140 million.

Abercrombie's flagship will cover about 22,000 square feet of selling space, and channel much of the aura and decor of its 27,000-square-foot Fifth Avenue megastore, opened in 2005, including the facade of closed window shutters and dark walls that create an air of intrigue, large murals depicting beefy sportsmen and possibly bits of A&F's heritage as a purveyor of outdoor sporting goods.

Abercrombie in Tokyo is also looking to match or beat the productivity seen at the Fifth Avenue flagship, located on the northwest corner of 56th Street, which is the prototype. According to Wall Street sources, Fifth Avenue generates sales of about $55 million annually. It's currently the chain's most vertical location, with four selling floors.

But the Ginza store marks Abercrombie's heightened ambitions in another way: it will be the brand's entry into the Far East and a big step in the Columbus, Ohio-based retailer's accelerating program of international growth via flagships in Europe and Asia. The Abercrombie brand, which targets 18- to 22-year-olds, said last month that it is working to secure flagships in Italy, France, Germany, Spain, Denmark, Sweden and the U.K., in particular Milan, Paris and Madrid. The corporation's Hollister and abercrombie chains, targeting younger audiences, are not currently part of the European or Asian expansion program.

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