TOKYO — Luxury brands may be anxious over the health of the Japanese market, but Giorgio Armani has just placed a big bet on its continued growth.
The designer is here this week to open his latest megastore — a 65,000-square-foot, 12-story building that cost $20 million and is the tallest in Ginza. Cate Blanchett will be the guest of honor at today's unveiling, while a concert and fashion show, "One Night Only at Budokan," will take place at the famed stadium Wednesday, with Fergie performing.
And in the ever-escalating world of Tokyo flagships, Armani's is no exception to the rule that bigger hopefully will be better. In addition to carrying the Giorgio Armani and Emporio Armani clothing and accessories collections for women and men, the building lodges the first Armani Casa store in Tokyo, the world's first Armani Spa, an Italian restaurant and a Privé bar.
Designed by Armani and architects Massimiliano and Doriana Fuksas, a bamboo motif runs across the facades of the first three floors of the building's gilt metal frame and is the main motif throughout the store, whether in a gold metal mesh shaping the seats in the restaurant or in the gilt metal and transparent Plexiglas display units on the walls, finished with frosted glass.
Even before the official events, Armani's arrival was generating buzz. Word Armani-San was posing in front of his new Ginza store on Monday spread quickly on the pavement, and a number of curious onlookers shed their usual reserve and uberpoliteness to edge their way into the crowd and get a glimpse of the designer.
In an exclusive interview while he was doing a model fitting on a fake runway installed in the offices above the store, an upbeat and relaxed Armani, who only arrived Sunday, discussed the Japanese market, the evolution of fashion and why investment funds waste their time knocking at his door.
WWD: Given the less than stellar economy in Japan, why did you think this was a good moment to invest in such a location in this country?
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