Christian Louboutin’s men’s collection started organically a few years ago when the designer began making shoes for himself and a few friends. Louboutin added men’s footwear to women’s stores, but demand became too big for the women’s shops to handle. There was enough demand to justify a freestanding men’s store, which opened on Sept. 11 on Rue Jean Jacques Rousseau in Paris across from the original women’s store Louboutin opened 20 years earlier.
This story first appeared in the December 21, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
WWD has learned that Louboutin in the spring will open a 1,035-square-foot men’s store in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District. It will be its second men’s store in the world.
“The men’s shoes only represent a small portion of the business at present but we think it has huge potential for the future,” said Alexis Mourot, chief operating officer. “We are very happy to have found a location in New York, especially one so close to our current downtown women’s boutique. This store opening in New York is an important step for Christian and for the company.”
Louboutin’s retail sales exceeded $250 million for the year ended August 2010.
The new men’s store will be located on Washington Street between Horatio Street and Gansevoort Street, and next to the Whitney Museum of American Art construction site.
It’s around the corner from Louboutin’s store at 59 Horatio Street, which was opened in 2004. The small store is said to do a robust volume with crowds so big on Saturdays, it’s hard to get in the store.
After 20 years of designing exquisite and at times edgy footwear for women, Louboutin is getting in touch with his masculine side. And he seems to be showing men’s footwear with the same attention to detail. The men’s styles can be as extravagant as the women’s. A collaboration with Jean-François Lesage, son of the late François Lesage whose maison was considered the last great embroidery atelier in Paris, yielded a collection for fall. India was the inspiration for several styles including Mikaraja, a patent leather loafer with hand-stitched pearl tassels for $2,095, and the Loubi Flat, in off white nappa leather with Lesage embroidery, $2,295. There’s also a Rollerboy spiked velvet hunter green loafer, $1,295, that looks like a porcupine, and the Alfie Flat, mulitcolor specchio calf and glitter high tops, $895.
Louboutin executives said details of the store’s design haven’t been finalized. However, the appeal of the space is obviously its industrial bones and masculine aura. The store is near the final southern entrance to the High Line at Gansevoort Street. One thing is fairly certain, the store will likely have a reworked red carpet, which has become a Louboutin signature.
The Paris men’s store has an eclectic mix of studded leather floors and embroidered leather walls, a tin ceiling, vintage airplane seats and a “Star Trek” table and chair. Customers can personalize their Louboutins with bespoke embroidery replicating their own tattoos or choose from the store’s designs, a service that could be carried over to the Meatpacking District.
The company declined to discuss future men’s stores, but a possible location is the Christian Louboutin store on North Robertson Boulevard between Melrose Avenue and Santa Monica Boulevard. The two-story building has a freestanding structure behind it.