Reiss Wants to Leverage Star Power in L.A.

The British brand Reiss is seeking to make a bold statement by placing its new flagship in the heart of Robertson Boulevard.

The British brand Reiss is seeking to make a bold statement by placing its new flagship in the heart of Robertson Boulevard.

“We have never been one to do big advertising campaigns, but the whole world is celebrity-driven,” said David Reiss, founder and chief executive officer. “If we are going to go to L.A. and open this flagship, and we are linked to celebrities, let the world know about it.”

The 12,000-square-foot Reiss space in West Hollywood, a few doors from The Ivy, the famed celebrity hangout, opened May 10 and should attract its share of attention with its two-story, window-paneled exterior covered in large polkadots.

“Robertson is a very cool street, but it is also a transient street,” the ceo said. “We wanted to make a storefront that was powerful, to make people stop and notice.”

Walking into the store, women’s clothes — a variety of dresses, including the sequined Castor at $395, the scoopneck Lilly at $385 and the beaded Fitzgerald at $375, punctuate the spring-summer offerings — greet shoppers and fill almost half of the first floor. The other half is dedicated to men’s clothes, which the company started with in 1970 before launching a women’s collection in 2000.

All pieces in the stores in West Hollywood and New York, where the brand began retailing in the U.S. about two years ago, have U.K. and U.S. sizes on their tags. “We try to give newness once a week,” said Laurie Marco, director of retail operations. “In New York, people come in every Friday because they know there will be some new things.”

Accessories and the women’s fitting room section are up a short staircase in the rear of the West Hollywood store. Shoes average about $325; sunglasses, $150, and belts, $110. Reiss is building the accessories assortment to stock an accessories-only retail concept that will launch in London in September and is expected to eventually come to the U.S.

The second floor houses a large showroom and a spacious, private fitting room for VIPs. Reiss said that, among the celebrities who have worn the clothes are Katie Holmes, Hilary Duff, Eva Longoria, Heidi Klum and Nicole Kidman.

This story first appeared in the May 23, 2007 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

Throughout much of the store, designed by D-Raw design firm for “over a few million,” Reiss said, there are long silver chains to symbolize the London rain and floral-pattern wallpaper that appears to have been drawn with black crayon. The men’s fitting room has a Scottish thistle pattern. The floors are wood and concrete, a leftover material from the site’s previous incarnation as a Reebok shop, and are broken up by a number of bespoke rugs.

Reiss has 55 stores around the world and plans to open 250 units in about five years. The brand is aiming for 50 U.S. stores, ranging from 1,000 to 2,000 square feet each. Reiss said he has signed leases for 11 more U.S. locations, including a store to open in Miami in the fall.

“We want to be very selective to make sure where we open is conducive for the brand,” he said.

Reiss estimated the West Hollywood store would generate $6 million in sales the first year, on par with the performance of the three Reiss stores in New York. Overall, Reiss said U.S. sales would constitute 10 percent of the brand’s total this year.

The ceo certainly seems to be getting the hang of the West Coast lifestyle. On a sunny Friday afternoon, he worked on the patio atop the five-star Peninsula Beverly Hills hotel. And what about The Ivy? “It is my second home,” he quipped.