Fred Segal’s first overseas move is finally becoming a reality.
Next week the retailer will unveil a 10,000-square-foot shopping center in Tokyo, occupying three of five buildings at Log Road, a modern converted railway site in the trendy, upscale Daikanyama neighborhood.
“This project has become the one that ate everything else,” said Paul Blum, chief executive officer of Fred Segal, which is owned by Sandow. He said when he first joined the company last May, the first project he jumped into was Tokyo. “It became so important and so complicated and so significant, that we really had to put everything else on the back burner for this year, ” said Blum, who previously was ceo of Juicy Couture and Kenneth Cole Productions. “Tokyo became the center of everything.”
In researching the Japanese market, his team discovered that the consumer there is really into heritage. “That’s where everything starts from,” said Blum, noting many Japanese have been shopping at Fred Segal in Los Angeles since the Sixties. “To a large degree, Fred Segal is fashion heritage to the Japanese. It’s the place where denim was created as a fashion item.”
The fashion focus in that category then transferred to Japan, when the Japanese bought a lot of the denim machinery, and it became a Japanese industry, he noted. “Denim is a lifestyle for them, and they search out antique denim and develop reproductions. There’s a cult of denim in Japan. We had to make sure when we opened in Japan, we had credibility,” Blum said.
The Tokyo complex will house three stores: “Fred Segal Woman,” “Fred Segal Man” and “The Mart at Fred Segal.”
“We added a whole food component,” Blum said. “We’re developing a mini-food hall in the building. Food is one of the most important lifestyle elements going on today.” He doesn’t plan to serve Japanese food, but rather American favorites such as Blue Star donuts from Portland, Ore., as well as Fred Segal coffee drinks and packaged beans and iced bottled coffee from Marufuku, official purveyor to Japan’s royal family. There will be a tricked-out Fred Segal food truck parked on the side, serving culinary treats straight from the truck.
The Tokyo complex is designed by Aesthetic Movement in Brooklyn.
While not set in stone, women’s offerings will be a mix of American, European and Japanese brands, including Marni, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Helmut Lang, Hermès, Koral, Lanvin, Isabel Marant Étoile and New Balance. “It’ll be a great mix across a lot of different price points so it really feels interesting,” Blum said. Men’s lines will likely include Adidas, Haider Ackermann, J.W.
Anderson, Porter and Todd Snyder. Denim brands for women and men will include Frame Denim, Koral, Alex Mill, Simon Miller and Levi’s Vintage. Exclusive collaborations will also be important, such as those with Oliver Peoples, Moleskine, Toms and Haider Ackermann. The women’s store will also house a beauty area, with an emphasis on organic and natural products.
“Japan is a perfect place to do experimental and experiential retail,” Blum said. “We were able to break through the boundaries of normal retail, that in this country would be unheard of,” he said. Cotenants will be Tartine Bakery and Kirin Beer Hall, which serves craft beer, but they won’t be ready for the April 17 opening. A spa is also planned, but won’t be ready next week.
Asked whether Fred Segal Japan is expected to be as edgy as its Los Angeles counterpart, he said: “I don’t think L.A. is edgy. It’s cool and has an L.A. flair. This place will have a Tokyo flair and will be different. It’s an authentic Fred Segal for the Japanese market. It’s not a transplanted Fred Segal for Japan,” he said.
The complex’s decor will feature a lot of wood and plantings. “It will be natural in feel, sort of like the High Line. There will be a pedestrian walkway,” Blum said. “It’s a place where we hope people will spend time and hang out. Everyone’s rushing in Tokyo. Everything’s very compact. You will have the ability to sit and relax and experience the place.”
Founded in Santa Monica, Calif., in 1961, Fred Segal became known as an industry leader for ferreting out new and noteworthy apparel and beauty brands. In 2012, it was acquired by Sandow, a privately held company with holdings in media, global materials consultancy and creative management. Last year, Sandow partnered with equity investor Evolution Media Partners, an entertainment media and sports merchant bank formed in partnership with Creative Artists Agency; TPG Growth, the middle-market and growth equity investment platform of global investment firm TPG, and Participant Media, a global entertainment company. Sandow took on Evolution as a partner to fund the rollout of up to 10 Fred Segal lifestyle centers in the U.S. and abroad over the next five to seven years. Sandow’s partner in Japan is MFS Japan.
Last August, Fred Segal opened a 10,000-square-foot “retail experience” at the SLS Las Vegas hotel.