The leather goods brand has moved its New York flagship boutique from a petite space at 781 Fifth Avenue to roomier environs at 831 Madison Avenue with an official opening scheduled for Wednesday. The store is 2,000 square feet with 16-foot ceilings — lending it an air of luxury not previously conveyed at the old flagship, the brand feels.
Ghurka hopes its move from off Fifth to Madison Avenue will help drive its strategy of leveling men’s and women’s sales. Women’s products account for 20 percent of brand sales. Ghurka would like that ratio to even out to nearly 50 percent. It projects that women’s sales will jump to 25 percent by 2018.
In late 2015, Ghurka hired Kathy Formby — a veteran bag designer who had a hand in creating the Ralph Lauren Ricky bag — as its creative director.
Formby said of Ghurka’s flagship: “Everything we are doing is a step in the brand evolution process. We want to create a comprehensive collection that attracts the modern customer while not losing sight of a heritage customer.
“Everything has to relate back to the theme of travel as an inspiration with a bit of military influence. For the first time now we feel like we are in a mature store with a presentation that really states what the brand stands for.”
The store will stock expanded Ghurka categories — including small leather goods, lifestyle items and decor. “We want to eventually grow into more of a lifestyle brand — do a little bit of campaign furniture, the store will have a much more comprehensive grouping of furniture, more home products, small leather goods, we will have a gift area and a space that more equally exhibits men and women products,” Formby explained.
The brand is “not ruling out” a ready-to-wear expansion but would likely “consider shoes” as a category before branching into clothing design.
Close to 75 percent of brand sales come through the U.S., but Formby noted that Ghurka has a loyal following in Japan. The brand is working on an international expansion plan focusing on Europe and the Middle East, as well as an increased presence in Japan.
To mark the Madison Avenue opening, Ghurka has teamed with Céline Cousteau — granddaughter of famed deep-sea explorer Jacques Cousteau — for a campaign and limited-edition run of leather-bound notebooks. Ghurka will donate 25 percent of sales to Cousteau’s charity initiative, Tribes on The Edge.