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NEW YORK — Original Penguin has opened a flagship in a high-traffic location in NoHo here designed to appeal to the Millennial customer.
This story first appeared in the March 10, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The store, at 654 Broadway at Bond Street, in the heart of the New York University campus, measures 2,800 square feet and replaces a smaller unit on Greene Street in SoHo. The company also operates a store farther uptown near Bryant Park.
The new unit features an updated design aesthetic that includes walnut wood accents against white walls and a large back-lit Original Penguin logo behind the cash register. The store features leather seating, metal tables and fixtures that incorporate the brand’s logo. There are also two “focal walls” — one in the front for the brand’s signature Earl Polo shirt, and another that showcases an expanded assortment of accessories such as shoes, socks, belts, ties, hats, sunglasses and bags. Other classifications include sport shirts, casual suits, jeans and lightweight jackets.
“This is the first store with this look and feel,” said James Ha, vice president of marketing. “It’s a big shift away from the post-modern oranges and greens that we have in other stores. It’s a contemporary interpretation that is clean and streamlined.” The design elements found in this unit will serve as a prototype for all future stores, he said.
Ray Camano, executive vice president of Original Penguin, said the larger size and open design allow the brand to showcase the collection in a better light. He noted that the plan is to “grow the business with accessories [and other] new classifications.”
He declined to provide a volume figure, but said the new store is expected to outperform the one in SoHo. So far, sales have been strong in shorts and swimwear; shoes, ties and socks are also doing well.
Overall, the design of the store is also expected to connect more with the younger customer. “We’ve made a brand statement to target Millennials,” Ha said. Original Penguin has been around since 1955 and is credited with introducing the first golf shirt in America. Over the years, the brand has been worn by everyone from Frank Sinatra to Clint Eastwood. “We celebrate our heritage and history,” Ha said, “but we’re moving it forward to appeal to a different generation.”
Fits have been updated to include more tapered and slim models, fashion details have been incorporated into the collection — chambray trim on chinos and printed linings inside jackets, for example — and the brand has launched a blog on Tumblr. Colors are also bright and lively.
Original Penguin, a division of Perry Ellis International Inc., currently operates 61 stores around the world. The plan is to open 20 stores globally this year, many in international markets.
Although PEI recently reported that preliminary fourth-quarter results were sharply below previous guidance and analysts’ expectations, Original Penguin was one of the brands it pointed to as a growth area. In addition to the U.S., the brand is performing well in the U.K. and Argentina, Camano noted, along with other Central and South American countries such as Chile and Brazil.