NEW YORK — Belstaff, the outerwear label out of England, is establishing a U.S. headquarters on Fifth Avenue, presaging growth maneuvers.
In February, Belstaff will move into 681 Fifth Avenue, a recently renovated building located between 53rd and 54th Streets, where it will occupy 17,000 square feet on three floors.
“This is a precursor to a U.S. expansion,” Harry Slatkin, chief executive officer of Belstaff, told WWD. “We’ve been hiring all new talent,” which includes a chief marketing officer and a creative director, as recently reported. Slatkin said a team of 50 is being established for the U.S. headquarters, which will complement Belstaff’s two European headquarters, in London and Milan.
Belstaff, founded in 1924 with waxed-cotton clothes for the motorcycling industry, is known for its chic bomber and motorcycle jackets.
Last June, the company was purchased by Labelux Group, along with Tommy Hilfiger and Slatkin, who have minority stakes. Hilfiger serves as a consultant. On Monday, Slatkin, the founder of home fragrance brand Slatkin & Co., reiterated plans to transform Belstaff into a luxury lifestyle brand, including relaunching ready-to-wear and accessories, while emphasizing that the brand will always be rooted in outerwear. Labelux also owns Jimmy Choo, Bally, Derek Lam, Solange Azagury-Partridge and Zagliani.
With 95 percent of Belstaff’s sales generated in Europe, there’s great growth potential in the U.S. Asked about the possibility of expanding distribution and opening stores in the U.S., Slatkin replied: “No comment at this time.” Currently, Belstaff is sold in the U.S. at Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue and Barneys New York.
Metropole, the owner and developer of 681 Fifth since 2005, is considering another fashion tenant for the two-level penthouse, which is the only remaining vacant space in the building, according to Robert Siegel, Metropole’s ceo. He declined to reveal any potential tenants, and noted that the rest of the building is occupied by financial asset management firms. “In the depths of the recession, we bought out all of the tenants and spent $27 million to renovate everything except the facade, the floors and the ceiling heights,” Siegel noted. “It wasn’t an easy decision at the time, but I believe there will always be that group that appreciates quality and is willing to pay for it."