LONDON — Manolo Blahnik International Ltd. is expanding its presence in Asia with help from Bluebell Group.
The designer has partnered with the luxury importer Bluebell, which will hold the distribution rights and manage retail development in Japan, Singapore and Malaysia.
The brand’s plan for Japan includes its first shops-in-shop this fall in Matsuya Ginza. It will be designed by Nick Leith-Smith Architecture and Design. The plan is to open a Tokyo flagship in 2017. In addition, Bluebell Group will support the 41 doors that already sell the footwear brand in Japan.
The brand plans to set up its first Malaysia flagship this fall. The 1,022-square-foot store will be located within the Pavilion Mall in Kuala Lumpur. Meanwhile, in Singapore, the 645-square-foot Manolo Blahnik shops-in-shop that’s currently operating at Takashimaya will be run by Bluebell Singapore with refurbishment plans scheduled for the fall.
“Manolo Blahnik is a global brand, but with comparatively small distribution in Japan, Malaysia and Singapore,” said Kristina Blahnik, chief executive officer of Manolo Blahnik International.
Blahnik said that the British company is eager to build its business in those regions and additional territories with Bluebell’s assistance. “I have trust in their guidance and experience, and appreciate their company family values that resonate with our own,” she added.
The expansion to Asia is part of the company’s rollout plan. “Asia, especially Japan is a very undeveloped market for us considering the size of our brand,” said Blahnik. “There is great opportunity to grow the brand not only through wholesale accounts and shop in shops, but especially by launching free standing stores. Our experience of the Asian markets is that they are very willing and excited to invite us in and learn about the company; they have a very keen interest in details and craft which is something that Manolo personally works on and oversees, so I believe the integrity of what we do will be truly appreciated.”
Manolo Blahnik currently has 290 points of sale in 33 countries, and 11 stand-alone stores, including two in Hong Kong and one in Seoul.