Gas, the Italian denim and sportswear brand, opened its revamped London flagship last week as part of the latest step in its global retail expansion.
Gas has occupied the 3,700-square-foot space on London's King's Road since 2004, but enlisted London design agency Four IV to transform the location so that it now shimmers with light-reflecting Plexiglas chandeliers, white vinyl floors inlaid with wooden floor tiles and video screens embedded in the walls playing Gas runway shows.
"It's contemporary and fresh, but very sensual at the same time," said Barbara Grotto, communication director at Gas, during a walkthrough of the store. She added that Chelsea appealed to the brand because "British people, rather than just tourists, shop here."
Claudio Grotto, chairman and chief executive officer of Gas, who has recently opened flagships in Florence, Hong Kong, Tokyo and Berlin, said the company looked to its retail and wholesale business in the U.K. for feedback on upcoming trends.
"England is the most important fashion market in the world," he said.
Gas' trend-driven ready-to-wear collection is given a prominent position at the front of the London store, while denim "island" units that display the brand's range of jeans run down the center of the two-floor space.
"The backbone of the company is denim," said Barbara Grotto. "But here we can represent the entire collection. It goes from day to night. There's a full range of product."
The men's and women's floors carry pieces ranging from a tailored women's leather jacket that retails for about $890 to jeans that start at about $148 and run to around $247 for more detailed pieces.
"We want to educate the trade, as well as consumers, that we don't only sell denim," she said.
Nor is the company fazed about competition from England's high street stores.
"It's a challenge, as [the U.K. has] one of the most sophisticated arenas of shops in the world," said Tony Bottomley, U.K. country manager for Gas. "But the Gas brand maintains quality with its growth…and it's a lifestyle concept."
Barbara Grotto declined to give sales projections for the London store but said that the company's recently opened flagships were performing "very well." As part of the vertically integrated company's retail development plan, further stores are set to open in Vienna, Hamburg, Germany and Lisbon in 2007. In 2008, the company will also open its second store in Madrid, as well as a store in Venice.Last year, Gas went into partnership with the Raymond Group, a textile production company based in Mumbai, India. With the company, Gas has opened flagships in New Delhi and Mumbai, and a store in Bangalore will open in June. The brand eventually plans to open 600 doors, including in-store shops, across India.
Despite its rapid rate of retail expansion, Barbara Grotto said the U.S. wasn't on the company's radar.
"In the last two years we've opened two subsidiaries in Asia, and we want to concentrate our energy there [and in Europe]," she said. "China is a big, big opportunity for us, too."
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