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NEW YORK — J.Lo does Moscow.
In what could be the ultimate personal appearance — at least in the burgeoning Russian market for Western designers — Jennifer Lopez will jet (no doubt privately) into Moscow for Memorial Day weekend to unveil the first JLo by Jennifer Lopez store. And while La Lopez is used to screaming throngs, her visit is likely to raise the bar for any future designer treks to the Russian capital.
For now, though, it simply is the latest in what is becoming a must-trip for any global brand. The opening of the JLo store follows on the heels of Burberry’s opening last month of its Moscow flagship and on Bulgari’s launch of its latest line, Astrale, in St. Petersburg, also in April. Luxury and designer brands continue to salivate over the potential of the Russian market, with industry executives reporting that a new, younger clientele has discovered fashion, prefers to buy locally rather than in London, Paris or Milan and, most importantly, has begun to pay by credit cards rather than with suitcases of cash.
Andy Hilfiger, co-founder and director of Sweetface Fashion Co., the masterbrand company for JLo, whose products are expected to drum up retail sales of $375 million this year, said the 4,500-square-foot “lifestyle” store will feature sportswear, swimwear, sunglasses, fashion jewelry, hats, handbags and fragrance as well as the first licensed collection of JLo by Jennifer Lopez lingerie. That line is produced under license by The Warnaco Group. The only category that won’t be merchandised in the store is children’s wear, he said.
“We’ll be doing a fashion show for the Memorial Day weekend opening, which will feature lingerie, swimwear and sportswear. And Jennifer will be there. Her manager and I are going over to Russia on the 15th of May to make sure the store looks beautiful,” said Hilfiger. “She did personal appearances for her model search, and the Glow by JLo fragrance launch at Macy’s, but this will be her first JLo by Jennifer Lopez store opening.”
He added there will be a number of “top-level Russian dignitaries” attending the grand-opening festivities. A film crew also will be on hand to tape the event, which will most likely be used as a marketing tool. Hilfiger said the reason he chose Moscow for the first store was because “it is a new, happening city, and we have a terrific partner with Crocus International.”
The store, which is designed by Robin Kramer of The Kramer Group, is owned by Russian real estate developers Crocus. It will be in an upscale shopping mall called the Crocus Mall, which houses such other boutiques as Calvin Klein and Ungaro. Chip Rosen, vice president of licensing and international operations at Sweetface Fashion, said he could not give a first-year sales projection for the Russian unit because the idea of selling a status Western brand in Russia was “entirely new.” However, he did say, “If you look at a store like this in the U.S., it would probably do $300 per square foot.”
The unit will emulate Lopez’s lifestyle and design philosophy of the “JLo girl —fun, sexy, sweet and sassy,” said Hilfiger. In addition to a front-and-center portrait of Lopez in her Glow by JLo fragrance ad, custom-made cascading chandeliers and dusty pink marble and plush carpeted floors, the store will encompass “signature Lopez” areas, such as a club-style VIP lounge with velvet ropes, which Hilfiger described as a glamorous “girls’ night out” scenario.
“Everything will reflect Jennifer’s lifestyle with video screens and a DJ booth,” continued Hilfiger, noting there will be “continuous loops of creative stuff,” including fashion shoots featuring Lopez, as well as her music videos. Other areas will include dressing rooms that have a feminine, girly look of an upscale powder room with a contemporary settee. Two front windows facing the mall will be rendered in the shape of the JLo logo.
The overall image of the Russian store will be translated into JLo by Jennifer Lopez in-store shops this fall, which will open at Federated Department stores beginning with Burdine’s, he said. The launch will include two to three “hard shops,” said Hilfiger, noting plans for additional shop concepts with retailers have not been finalized. The lingerie ships to stores in the U.S. on Lopez’s birthday, July 24, and will be officially launched to consumers on Aug. 10. Plans also are being considered to expand shop concepts and freestanding units in Europe, but Hilfiger would not elaborate.
Meanwhile, Tom Wyatt, president and ceo of Warnaco’s Intimate Apparel Division, said sales for the JLo by Jennifer Lopez lingerie have been “significantly higher” than initial projections. Originally planned to be distributed to between 400 and 500 major store doors, due to an “extremely positive response” by retailers, Warnaco has shifted its plans for an increased launch to around 800 doors. Wyatt would not give a sales projection for the lingerie line, but industry sources place first-year wholesale revenues in excess of $40 million.