Milly is Tokyo bound.
This story first appeared in the March 6, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The nine-year-old contemporary sportswear brand is set to open its first freestanding store, a flagship, in Tokyo today. The 850-square-foot boutique is in the city’s Aoyama area, at the Omotesando Hills shopping mall, where the New York-based label’s neighbors are high-end stores such as Yves Saint Laurent, Harry Winston, Jimmy Choo and Dolce & Gabbana.
“We have a strategic plan in place to grow the business throughout Japan, so a store in Tokyo was a natural next step,” said Andrew Oshrin, president and chief executive officer, noting that the company’s wholesale business in Tokyo is robust and sells to about 50 stores. “We are well-positioned at wholesale in Tokyo and growing into more cities in Japan, but we are looking for the store to be a destination where customers can get the full Milly experience and even get some exclusive product.”
The exclusives include a small collection of cocktail dresses as well as some other smaller items such as a candle sold in one-of-a-kind packaging, he said. Other than the select exclusives, the Milly collection sold in Japan is the same product found in the U.S. Oshrin said he has been working with Japan-based firms Itochu, for distribution, and Coronet, for marketing.
The store was designed by the Tokyo-based D. Brian Architects, which has also designed stores for brands such as APC, Costume National and Marc Jacobs. The Milly space was created to look like a Parisian apartment accented with etched and faceted mirrors, vintage fixtures and plush signature Milly pink carpeting.
Oshrin said he has put a freestanding store in Manhattan on hold.
“We thought we would have our New York store open by now, but because of the economy, we decided to hold off a bit,” he said. “Of course if we came across our ideal location with a lease we can’t pass up, we will jump on it. But it will have to be perfect for our needs.”
Designed by Oshrin’s wife, Michelle Smith, Milly has secured a strong presence in the contemporary market, selling its signature colorful printed collection in department and specialty stores worldwide, including Bloomingdale’s, Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman, Neiman Marcus, Harrods and Selfridges. Only about 4 percent of Milly’s overall business is in Japan, but Oshrin said he expects business to jump about 10 percent for the 2009 fiscal year. He estimated the new store would reach about $1 million in retail sales for the fiscal year.