MILAN — There’s a bit of Rome in Tokyo — care of Fendi.
The facade of the brand’s new flagship in the Japanese capital at the Ginza Six complex reproduces the arches of the Palazzo della Civiltà Italiana, also known as the Square Colosseum and headquarters of the Rome-based fashion group.
“It’s a corner store, so the effect is, frankly, stunning,” said an upbeat Pietro Beccari, Fendi’s chairman and chief executive officer. The facade surface of 8,380 square feet, with its 40 arches spanning over five floors, also pays homage to Japan’s traditional Noren curtains.
The flagship, whose selling space totals 7,733 square feet distributed over four floors, carries the men’s and women’s collections, ranging from high-end furs, ready-to-wear items and leather goods to shoes and playful accessories. It pays tribute to the Japanese customer, signaling Fendi’s focus on the market. To wit, the company is also unveiling a pop-up store in Omotesando today, which will be open for one year.
“We are very proud of these two projects, they further strengthen our position in the market,” explained Beccari. “As a single country, this is the most important one for us. Japanese customers are our influencers, they capture trends and jump on them. They are early adopters and they are our sounding board, they give us great feedback, they are super sophisticated, attentive and discerning.”
Ahead of the opening at Ginza Six of its largest-ever store in Japan, Dior held a series of events in Tokyo, including both a haute couture and a men’s show, and Louis Vuitton will set its cruise 2018 presentation on May 14 at the Miho Museum, near the Japanese city of Kyoto. Ginza Six, the largest mixed-use complex in one of the most expensive neighborhoods in the world spanning more than 1.6 million square feet, opened on April 20, comprising 241 stores, including 121 flagships, restaurants, a theater and a rooftop garden.
Beccari said he was pleasantly surprised by the complex and the marketing surrounding it, noting that he was told 500,000 people flocked to Ginza Six on the first day.
Asked about this heightened focus on Japan, Beccari admitted that after years of currency fluctuations, which impacted business in the region, “This is a good moment. Japan has become a favorite destination for Chinese tourists,” while it has also developed as a draw for travelers from South East Asia and Australia. Gearing up for the Olympics in 2020 is also shaping projects in the country.
“They are making efforts to speak English, and [Prime Minister Shinzō] Abe has said he hopes to increase tourism by 50 percent and become one of the top three tourist destinations,” said Beccari.
Abe, together with Bernard Arnault, chairman and ceo of Fendi parent company LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton, and Yuriko Koike, the governor of Tokyo, attended the inauguration of the Ginza store on April 17.
For the first time in Japan, the flagship has a VIP room and an exclusive “furwear” made-to-order service, which allows customers to personalize different pieces, from T-shirts to coats in pure Loro Piana cashmere or jeans by choosing between combinations of colors, furs, personalized labels and sizes. It can take upward of seven weeks for the items to be completed. Beccari said he believed the “furwear” service will be replicated in other stores.
To celebrate the opening, Fendi is a launching a limited-edition collection of “Selleria Mini Peekaboo.” “We like to offer special products around the world. It’s part of our storytelling, and the purchase becomes unique,” Beccari remarked.
A large Fur Tree, created by Japanese flower artist Azuma Makoto, whom Fendi has been collaborating with for the last two years, adorns the store.
The two-story Omotesando unit carries both men’s and women’s collections and also shows an impressive facade made of over 2,000 colorful glass brick fragments, reminiscent of the company’s headquarters. Stepping past the arches, a concrete floor and a bare ceiling indicate an industrial atmosphere.
Fendi’s tribute to Ikebana, Japan’s art of flower arrangement, is illustrated by a staircase with a special installation created by “plant hunter” Seijun Nishihata. It took about five months from its conception to plan the artwork space and collect materials across Japan.
Beccari said Fendi has been absent from the Omotesando area for two years. “This is a temple of fun and it was the right moment to return.” He noted that Fendi is attractive for Omotesando shoppers because they are both “very trendy and original, but also sophisticated and high-end.”
For the first time, this store features the traveling VIP Room “The Happy Room,” created by Italian designer Cristina Celestino on the occasion of Design Miami in December 2016. The furniture has an Art Deco-meets-the-Fifties theme. For the brand, Celestino also created a new special fur treatment under resin called Etere. This is seen in fur panels realized with the let-out technique, reminiscent of Karl Lagerfeld’s 1971 Astuccio fur, found in the tones of dark blue with light gray details in the big screen with a mirror. Alternating and contrasting materials, as well as the fur, which looks almost frosted, create a 3-D impression.
The palazzo’s arches are seen in the marble inlays that characterize the low tables. The base of these items is reminiscent of the closing of an earring. In satin brass, this is also a recurring motif in both a large sofa in a Rubelli mustard-colored velvet and in a mint-green armchair, both finished by a gray fox fur trim made at Fendi’s fur atelier.
To mark the opening of the Omotesando pop-up store, the pre-fall collection will be available for pre-sale for a limited period of time, accompanied by the new Back to School bags, mini Peekaboo and By the Way bags, together with Strap You bag straps.
The company has 36 stores in Japan. In July 2015 Fendi took its haute fourrure show, first presented in Paris, to Tokyo, staged at the Tokyo National Museum. The show celebrated Karl Lagerfeld’s 50-year collaboration with Fendi, as well as the Roman luxury house’s 50th anniversary of its presence in Japan.
In November 2015, Fendi also opened a playful pop-up store in Ginza, which Beccari dubbed “Ginzaland” because of its idea of a sophisticated amusement park. “Stores must offer an experience,” said Beccari.
Spread across three floors, it was the first Fendi boutique in Japan to showcase men’s and women’s collections, from the high-end fur to ready-to-wear and accessories.