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IK Retail Building New DNA

IK Retail Group, led by Iraklis Karabassis, who helped grow Benetton in the U.S., is rolling out a new retail concept, denim-based DNA 2050.

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IK Retail Group, led by Iraklis Karabassis, who helped grow Benetton in the U.S., is rolling out a new retail concept, denim-based DNA 2050 with stores in New York, Chicago and Tysons Galleria in McLean, Va.

This story first appeared in the October 16, 2008 issue of WWD.  Subscribe Today.

In addition to those locations, DNA 2050 is to launch another women’s and men’s boutique in downtown Chicago, possibly this year. It continues to scout for a second site in New York and retail space in Atlanta and in Washington D.C.’s Georgetown section.

“DNA 2050 came about as we recognized a gap in the contemporary market for quality, trendy concepts for men and women in a multibrand environment that does not encourage customers to look alike as clones,” Karabassis said.

Its first Chicago store, DNA’s largest at 2,800 square feet, is on North Halsted Street in the Lincoln Park neighborhood near Barneys Co-Op, Club Monaco and True Religion. The boutique features a G-Star Raw shop-in-shop (IK Retail Group is also helping the Dutch denim brand expand its U.S. presence) as well as fashions from SportMax Code, J. Lindeberg for William Rast and John Varvatos for Converse.

“The concept is denim at its core, but it’s not a denim store,” said Mauricio Gamero, brand manager for DNA 2050, who added that store sizes average 1,500 to 2,000 square feet.

The company’s name, DNA 2050, is intended to connote evolution and longevity — a customer who is a step ahead of others and who has an individualistic spirit.

“You can combine the clothes in your own way,” Gamero said. “How you wear it and put it together, it’s your DNA.” In the Chicago store, which features a denim wall and evokes a modern, minimalist vibe, prices range from a $70 J. Lindeberg for William Rast T-shirt to a $1,600 Just Cavalli leather jacket, as well as $175 to $220 jersey dresses by SportMax Code. The denim selection includes Seven For All Mankind, Levi’s, Anlo, Diesel and Rich & Skinny, among other brands.

Gamero forecast sales for the Chicago store from its opening in late July to July 2009 at $2 million.

Washington, D.C.-based IK Retail Group, meanwhile, continues to do what it initially did for Benetton, assuming the role of partner with European brands to grow in the U.S., counting both G-Star Raw and Max Mara as partners. The company negotiates real estate, trains staff and invests in the U.S. expansion, Karabassis said.

Karabassis, who sold the Benetton stores he owned as a franchisee back to Benetton corporate this spring, owns DNA 2050 and three restaurants in the Washington area.

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