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Elie Tahari is making his mark globally.
This story first appeared in the October 7, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Tahari opened a 700-square-foot shop-in-shop last month at the Shinsegae department store in Seoul, which will be followed this month with a 500-square-foot shop at the city’s Galleria West department store.
Over the next five years, Tahari plans to open 16 shop-in-shops in luxury department stores and four freestanding stores across South Korea, including a flagship that is to open in Seoul’s Chungdam neighborhood next spring.
The South Korean expansion is the result of a retail and distribution agreement that Tahari made with SK Networks in April. SK Networks, which also introduced brands such as Tommy Hilfiger and DKNY to the region, has the exclusive rights to sell the label and operate shops in South Korea until 2012.
In the U.S., Tahari is distributed in 600 doors, including Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus. Tahari said much of the incremental growth stems from overseas markets.
“We are performing very well internationally,” said Tahari, who is the company’s chairman. “We are present in over 40 countries, and those are the stores that are calling for more product, more reorders, and the sell-throughs are incredible. Our overseas business will triple in the next year.”
The South Korean shops will take their decor cues from interior designer Piero Lissoni’s blueprint for the brand, with elements such as Italian marble floors, Venetian plaster walls, handmade crystal chandeliers and club chairs.
To launch brand awareness in South Korea, SK Networks and Tahari recently held a fashion show and party in Seoul. Tahari also launched advertising campaigns in South Korean editions of publications such as Vogue, Elle, Harper’s Bazaar and In Style.
South Korea is the latest expansion for the brand. In January, the designer kicked his international growth into high gear with an exclusive distribution deal and retail licensing partnership with Istanbul-based Unitim Holding for Turkey and Romania, which includes plans for five Elie Tahari-branded stores in the two regions over the next five years. Earlier this year, Tahari also opened a 1,600-square-foot shop-in-shop at London department store Selfridges, and a 650-square-foot shop at the city’s Harvey Nichols store. There are plans to open more units at Harvey Nichols in Dubai and Tsum in Moscow.
To help global expansion, the designer has launched sales showrooms in Milan, London and Seoul. Tahari just finished the Milan market, and said that he did the entire projected business for the week in the first day. “The next challenge, and the next excitement, will come from China,” Tahari said. “That’s where we are looking to expand now.”