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NEW YORK — Daniel Cremieux has brought a little slice of Saint-Tropez to SoHo.
The French designer today will open the doors to its first U.S. store, a 700-square-foot, two-level unit at 65 Mercer Street here between Broome and Spring Streets. The boutique highlights the Cremieux 38 label, which is sold in Europe and is the first of several the upscale brand hopes to open in the American market. Among the cities the company is eyeballing are Miami and Aventura, Fla., as well as a second location in the New York area, possibly the Hamptons. All told, Cremieux believes it can operate up to 20 stores in the U.S.
The SoHo store is bright and sophisticated with exposed brick walls, wood-paneled floors and white punched-tin accents. An assortment of photographs of French actors and celebrities, including a scantily clad Brigitte Bardot in the fitting room, serve as a showcase for the brand’s men’s wear offerings that range from pastel-hued polo shirts and chambray sport shirts to cashmere sweaters, lightweight suits and knit ties.
For the past 14 years, Cremieux has had an exclusive licensing agreement with Dillard’s in the U.S., but the product carried in this store is more elevated than what is sold at the department store. “We’re very happy with Dillard’s,” said Daniel Cremieux, who flew in from Paris to fete the new store. “But here, we put in the collection we sell in Europe.”
Upon entering, customers are greeted with a younger-skewed assortment that includes a tea-washed cotton chino suit with a paisley lining for $595, and a colorful array of sport shirts. Upstairs, the store carries dressier merchandise, including shirts from the pricey Sartorial collection with handmade dress shirts that retail for $475. Cremieux said the store will bring the tailors from Italy that produce its made-to-measure dress shirts and suits to the States several times throughout the year to fit customers for those items. The second-floor assortment also includes a hand-stitched Loro Piana wool jacket for $1,250, floral-printed pants for $245 and a Sea Island cotton sweater for $175. A knit polka-dot tie is $115, madras pants are $175 and a lightweight sweatshirt-inspired cashmere sweater is $295. Belts are made in Italy and the cashmere sweaters are offered in 10 colors.
The designer said that next season, he hopes to bring pieces from the highest-priced Silver Label collection for men and women to the U.S. as well. Three years ago, the label opened a showroom down the block on Mercer Street, and wholesale is one of its priorities as well. But for now, the focus is on the New York store.
Stephane Cremieux, Daniel’s son who runs the U.S. division, said the majority of the merchandise in the store is from Italy and Portugal. The mix also includes a few exclusives for the New York market, such as ties made in New York and shoes manufactured in Maine.
Although fits are European, Stephane Cremieux stressed that nothing is “extremely tight. At Cremieux, we don’t like ‘extreme,’” he said. His father pointed to the details on the garments as a hallmark of the brand, denoting the patterned linings inside garments and on the undercollars, fancy buttons and piping. “It’s classic with gimmicks,” Daniel Cremieux said. “You have to break the rules.”
Overall, Daniel Cremieux said he views this store as a test that will be used to gauge the U.S. reaction to the product and to determine where the next stores should open. “It’s a small store, but I want to see the reaction of our customers and other people,” he said.
Outside the U.S., Cremieux operates two stores in France, two in Spain and another in Mexico City. In Paris, it recently relocated and expanded its store on Boulevard Saint-Germain and is opening eight in-store shops in the Liverpool department store chain in Mexico. The company also has stores in the works for Jeddah in Saudi Arabia; Dubai; Kaohsiung and Taipei in Taiwan, and Doha, Qatar. The original unit in Saint-Tropez, which opened in 1976, is being expanded. All told, the brand is believed to have worldwide sales of $180 million.
Cremieux sells its men’s sportswear in in-store shops at all 300 Dillard’s doors and there are another 300 jeans shops in the department stores as well. Women’s wear is offered in 256 units and the home collection is in about 200 doors. It’s the second-largest men’s brand at Dillard’s after Polo.
“This is the year when the whole Cremieux business is expanding,” said Martin Miller, who represents the brand in the U.S. “And the SoHo store is the first example to show people in the U.S. what can be developed.”