NEW YORK — British retailers have come, and usually gone, in the U.S, but U.K. contemporary fashion designer Karen Millen thinks she can break the jinx. She’s aggressively hunting for store sites, in the 1,500- to 2000-square-foot range,...
NEW YORK — British retailers have come, and usually gone, in the U.S, but U.K. contemporary fashion designer Karen Millen thinks she can break the jinx. She’s aggressively hunting for store sites, in the 1,500- to 2000-square-foot range, on this side of the Atlantic, with about 10 seen operating within the next year or two.
More could open later if the first phase of the invasion succeeds, according to executives from the $120 million Kent, England-based firm.
"We are going to take it slowly, but I see the market for us in the U.S. as the same size as the U.K.," said Kevin Stanford, Millen’s chief executive. He founded the business in 1981 with his partner and former wife Karen Millen, the chief designer, spending $160 on 100 meters of white cotton that Millen used to design shirts for friends. From that, a collection was born, and in 1983, the partners opened their first store in Maidstone, Kent. Six years later, their first store in London was opened on King’s Road.
Last September, the first two Karen Millen stores opened in the U.S.: a 2,300-square-foot unit in Beverly Center, Los Angeles, and a 1,700-square-foot unit in Copley Place, Boston. A store in Lenox Mall in Atlanta is scheduled to open around April and one in the Houston Galleria in the fall. The stores are each seen exceeding $1 million in first-year sales.
"There’s the potential to open 100 stores. We’ve discussed it," said Alan J. Napack, director of retail services, Cushman & Wakefield, the real estate consultant contacting developers on behalf of Karen Millen. "I think the goal is to go public."
The company is negotiating for space in other "A" malls, including Aventura, Fla., the Somerset Collection in Troy, Mich., the Mall of Millenia in Orlando, The Mall at Short Hills in New Jersey and is also looking for opportunities in Manhattan, San Francisco and other major cities, according to Napack.
With the exception of Burberry, French Connection and Paul Smith, British retailers and designers have had little luck operating stores in the U.S. Such companies as Next, Monsoon, Laura Ashley, as well as The Body Shop, had their ups, but mostly downs. However, Stanford thinks the timing is better now for British goods. "The U.S. market has changed," he said. "There is more of an understanding of European fashion. People in the U.S. are more interested in European fashion. We used to be a lot further apart than just the Atlantic."Karen Millen specializes in contemporary sportswear, coats, and dresses, with an average price of about $130 to $140 per item. Accessories and cosmetics are also offered. The target customer is 18- to 40-years-old with a cosmopolitan lifestyle. The company has more than 50 stores in the U.K. and 20 stores in Europe, the Middle East and Asia. It has never wholesaled and does very little advertising. The partners also own Whistles, a well-known retailer and apparel brand in the U.K., with a different mood, but similar prices. There is also another partner for European and U.S. expansion, Siggi Bollason, who operates a small retail chain in Iceland and is a franchisee of Karen Millen stores.
“Azzedine has been one of the biggest influences in my life. He has always been such a strong, loving, fatherly figure to me. I call him Papa. His designs are indescribably unique, they are pieces of art. He knew how to make the female form look its loveliest. I have so many memories of him; my favorite might be during my first show with him in Paris. He liked me and he wanted to help me get more work. He called all his friends at Kenzo and Comme des Garcons, and asked them to book me. They said, ‘But she can’t walk!’ And he said, ‘but she has such a great ass!' His friendship and support has been the great privilege of my career. I can't imagine life without him. Repose en paix mon Papa.” - @stephanieseymour tells @wwd. #wwdfashion (📷: @steveeichner) #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa, flanked by two of his closest friends, models Stephanie Seymour and Naomi Campbell.
He designed Seymour’s dress for her 1995 wedding to Peter Brant, and treated Campbell (who famously called him Papa), like a daughter. For more on the legendary designer, tap the link in bio. #wwdfashion #alaia #azzedinealaia
Azzedine Alaïa's “I-did-it-my-way” ethos stood out starkly at a time when brands are experimenting with consumer-facing fashion shows, coed formats and trans-seasonal collections – anything to perk up lackluster sales of ready-to-wear in an age of Insta-everything. “It’s not creation anymore. This becomes a purely industrial approach,” the late designer told WWD in an interview last year. “But anyway, the rhythm of collections is so stupid. It’s unsustainable. There are too many collections.” Read more about the iconic designer’s life and work on wwd.com, link in bio. #wwdfashion #azzedinealaia (📷: @WWD Archive, 1986) #alaia
Sneaker reselling app @goat’s latest exhibit, "The Greatest: New York," tells the story of New York's sneaker culture. To celebrate the exhibit, an intimate crowd gathered on Thursday night at the pop-up gallery space, located at Platform in Culver City, to hear guest speaker and illustrator @esymai talk about her own rise in streetwear and women in the business. "For me I'm just someone who is creative. I like to create things," said Chang. #wwdfashion
Azzedine Alaïa, one of the most iconic couturiers of the modern era whose body-con designs defined Eighties fashion, has died in Paris. The diminutive Tunisian-born designer, known for his structured knitted dresses with fitted waists and impeccably cut, figure-hugging second skin silhouettes was deeply admired by his peers, and counted supermodel Naomi Campbell - his adoptive daughter - among his inner circle, one of a gang of glamazons including Farida Khelfa, Carla Bruni and Stephanie Seymour who became ambassadors of his style. (📷: Alexandre Guirkinger) #wwdblast