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NEW YORK — Onassis is expanding west, to San Francisco.
This story first appeared in the August 2, 2012 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The men’s retailer in October will open a 2,500-square-foot unit at 845 Market Street in the Westfield Centre, two blocks from Union Square.
The mall, a historically significant structure that originally opened in 1896, has a restored dome, atrium and colonnade.
“Onassis has always had its sights set on the West Coast and San Francisco,” said Michelle Li, vice president of operations and development for Onassis Clothing. “We want to see if we can be successful in the San Francisco market. The guys out there are creative professionals who can wear jeans and a blazer every day to work. There are so many guys in Silicon Valley.” Onassis is priced at the lower end of contemporary.
Li described San Francisco as a “microclimate, 50 degrees to 60 degrees all year round. We’ll be tailoring the collection for San Francisco. As we get to know the local customers better, we have the ability to tailor-make items exclusively for the San Francisco market, from graphic Ts to event-driven collections.”
Onassis, which opened its first store in SoHo in 2010, combines American-inspired design with European styling and fit and Japanese techniques. The company for fall is featuring a wool and leather varsity jacket for $498 and selvage denim jeans for $78. A tan windowpane wool blazer is $338, wool waistcoat, $168, and matching trousers, $148. “We’ve been pushing the envelope in the SoHo store with experimental designs,” said Li. “The SoHo customer is willing to take risks. This season, we have shorts with a 4-inch inseam. We thought we’d give it a try, because we can. The shorts sold really well. We also have shrunken vests in Japanese fabrics.”
Onassis this month will unveil a 1,500-square-foot unit at 61 West 49th Street in New York’s Rockefeller Center that will offer select “premium pieces, emotional pieces with higher price points,” said Li.
Onassis has a women’s following that favors its soft Ts and flannel button-down shirts. “Once we settle the men’s side, we’ll move on to the women’s side,” Li said. “Women’s is definitely in the future.”
The company is owned by a group of Asia-based investors, including a Chinese apparel manufacturer who handles production of the Onassis collections. The company’s ambition is to open stores “in all the major cities where creative professionals and well-informed shoppers reside, such as Chicago, Boston, Seattle, Washington, D.C., Vancouver, London, Berlin and Australia,” Li said. And there could be an initial public offering down the road. “We hope the market can accept us and support us as we think about going public one day,” Li said.