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MADRID — “I’m not competing with Zara, it’s impossible. I’m interested in fashion that no other retailer in Madrid has. My customer is designer-savvy and she knows the labels. She is looking for something different, something you can’t find anywhere else,” said Celine Beteinber, the 31-year-old manager and buyer for Eks, Madrid’s newest fashion retailer.
Eks is short for Ekseption, which is one of Madrid’s most successful and venerable multilabel stores. Both locations are owned by Beteinber’s father and they are neighbors on Calle Velasquez, a well-trafficked, commercial thoroughfare in the Spanish capital’s Salamanca area.
With 900 square feet and a minimalist aesthetic, Eks’ merchandise is younger than Ekseption, which traditionally stocks such luxe brands as Jean Paul Gaultier, Jil Sander, Yves Saint Laurent, Gucci and Dolce & Gabbana. Eks, meanwhile, carries such labels as Marc by Marc Jacobs, Miu Miu, Bernard Wilhelm and Prada Knitwear, as well as the denim brands Seven, Habitual and Earl Jeans. Downstairs, a small men’s wear selection offers Bernard Wilhelm Men, Raf Simons, Xavier Delcour, Marni and Maharishi.
The rest of Eks’ product mix is made up of sporty footwear styles by Adidas and Nike, plus accessories such as hats, bags and belts by the same designer roster as the clothes.
“We are a multibrand retailer and that is our strength. The concept behind the new store is to showcase young designer talent and mix-match items. We are not suggesting that you come to Eks for a total look,” Beteinber explained as she shuttled back and forth between the two locales. “The younger lines can’t be displayed with Ekseption’s higher-priced luxury merchandise; it just doesn’t work.”
Eks’ prices range from $105 for jeans to $390 for a multicolored miniskirt with dinosaur motifs, sequins and hand embroidery by Willhelm to $430 for Marc by Marc Jacobs’ colorful novelty knits and sweater jackets.
The target customer is “the same as Ekseption, 35-, 50-, 60-year-olds and younger, of course,” she said, adding, “I have a lot of customers but no fashion models because I won’t give anything away. I work for what I have.” Even with that, customers generally have to be model thin. While Ekseption and Eks carry sizing up to a U.S. 12, most styles are available in sizes 4 to 6 only.
This story first appeared in the December 30, 2002 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Beteinber is reluctant to predict first-year sales. “It’s hard to say; it takes time to build a business.”