BEVERLY HILLS — James Perse opened his eighth retail door on Canon Drive here, a street he believes has the potential to be the Rodeo Drive for a younger generation of casual luxury-loving trendsetters like himself.
The 4,500-square-foot store, the $70 million company's largest, was designed to be a home-like showcase for the latest product lines. While Perse's original store on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles carries the complete collection of basic T-shirts for which he's known, the Canon Drive unit features only select monochromatic pieces from his newest collections: a luxury line of silk-blend Ts retailing for $95 to $120, cashmere sweaters from $400 to $1,100, as well as bedding, children's, swim and intimates. Seventy percent of the merchandise is new and currently retails only at the Canon door, which opened Saturday.
"I wanted to grow the upscale luxury component of my business, and there's no better place to do that than in Beverly Hills," he said. "But since I am much more of a mass brand, Rodeo was not really for me. Canon is more specialty and boutique, like a chic young Rodeo."
Perse also has boutiques in the Brentwood neighborhood of Los Angeles, in San Diego, Malibu, Calif., and Las Vegas, and men's and women's shops on Bleecker Street in Manhattan.
In addition, he's launching a bag line in the next six months.
The Canon Drive store is doing double the daily projected sales and Perse estimates first-year volume will hit $4 million, "with a lot of potential to surpass that."
To create a different experience in each of his stores, Perse has developed several models, from traditional boutiques to midcentury beach houses.
The Canon shop features a limestone entryway with teak shutters that close at night. Inside, a seating area with Schindler-inspired armchairs overlooks low display tables, walls with sliding dark wood cabinetry and a courtyard patio. Instead of campaign-driven art, the walls feature old photographs of Perse and his family from the Seventies and oil paintings created by his in-house visual department.
"I was trying to create an experience that is somewhere between a hotel and a home," said Perse, who sells Aqua di Parma cologne alongside the cashmere robes.The front of the store features a wall merchandised with coffee table books about California architecture. "Those are pretty much all books you find on my coffee table,'' he said. "I live for architecture and it's where I get my inspiration."
In April, Perse plans to open a store in East Hampton, N.Y., and then an expanded Malibu boutique in summer 2008 that he described as "a warmer version of a midcentury modern...plopped on the beach. You will see the consistencies as well as the changes."
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