House of Osman

LONDON — With a blast of bright color and flashes of contemporary art, Osman Yousefzada has opened his first stand-alone store here. Located in a Georgian town house on a leafy street in Fitzrovia, the House of Osman is just as much about culture as it is commerce, housing the designer’s studio and workshops, and doubling as a space for art shows, talks and book sales.

The 3,000-square-foot space at 32 Percy Street, not far from Oxford Street, will open officially with a party on Wednesday. It is the designer’s first major move since selling a majority stake last summer to the private equity firm Luxcite, which specializes in niche luxury brands led by creative entrepreneurs.

During a walk through of the new space, with its teal blue carpeting, chartreuse double doors and sculptural copper clothing rails, Yousefzada said he’s planning to host monthly cultural events, and has already has booked a year’s worth of talks and readings. Once every 12 months he plans to hand over the space to a young artist to use as a gallery.

Osman Yousefzad's House of Osman

Osman Yousefzad’s House of Osman  James Mason/WWD

“I didn’t want it to be conventional, I didn’t want to say, ‘Here’s a shop,’ which is why this is very much a hybrid space. What I wanted to do was bring The Collective into 3-D,” said Yousefzada, referring to his annual print publication that features essays, work and images from various creatives around the world.

He also likes the neighborhood, which is packed with ad agencies, bars and restaurants. “In the 1920s, there used to be some opium dens here, and we’re also right next to Bloomsbury. We’re near Soho and just off Oxford Street. It’s the perfect location, slightly off-kilter but not, like, crazy off-kilter. It ticked so many boxes for us.”

The walls and corners of the town house are already filled with work by contemporary artists, some of whom are Yousefzada’s friends. There are abstract Celia Hempton self-portraits; a tall spidery sculpture by Camille Henrot called “Amma’s Door,” and a slowly pulsating pink neon light sculpture by Prem Sahib.

The designer’s studio features an oil painting on linen by Leidy Churchman of three giraffes, while Helix IV, a classical-style frieze by Prem Sahib, hangs above one of the fireplaces on the shop floor. A Pinocchio-style sculpture by Thomas Zipp sits in one of the two vitrine windows facing Percy Street.

Yousefzada is planning to install a small library on the shop floor, which he plans to stock with old, new and limited-edition books about design, fashion, art, culture and photography.

“If you’re buying a dress for 1,000 pounds, you can easily buy a book for 200 pounds if you’re going for a dinner, or looking for a gift or something,” he said.

Osman Yousefzad's House of Osman

Osman Yousefzad’s House of Osman  James Mason/WWD

Yousefzada is expecting a mix of walk-in customers and private appointments from his arty and international customer base, which includes gallery owners and collectors. Fittings will take place in his studio upstairs, and he’s currently working on a drinks menu that will include Champagne, tea and Coffee Crew coffee.

“It’s about bringing a sense of hospitality. The way I’ve been brought up, you have to offer something when people come into your house,” said the designer, who was born in the U.K. to Afghan immigrants.

Yousefzada said he plans to merchandise the shop “holistically,” taking a single rail and showing how one wardrobe item — like a pair of trousers — can be mixed up with other items for day, night or the weekend. “Hopefully, people will be like, ‘I want that whole rail,’” he said.

He declined to provide first-year sales projections for the store, but said overall sales are healthy and have more than doubled on 2017.

The town house opening is the first major event in what will be a busy year for the designer. Yousefzada plans to open a flagship in early 2019 outside the U.K., although he declined to reveal the location. He is also writing a memoir of his childhood and teenage years growing up in a rough neighborhood in Birmingham, England. The coming-of-age story will be published by Canongate Books next year.

This June, Yousefzada will be in Birmingham at the Ikon Gallery for a show and series of events and workshops supported by Selfridges and Eco-Age, Livia Firth’s specialist sustainability consultancy.

The designer has made films about mechanization and sustainability in fashion for the show and has also created personal installations around the themes of male domination and migrants’ experiences. For the latter, he’s made an embroidered tent based on his mother’s signature.

“My mother can’t read or write, so she signs her name like a cross. It’s actually quite beautiful. That part of the show is basically about spaces and cultural displacement,” said the designer.

Yousefzada is taking the sustainability conversation a step further this year. Starting in June, his Perfect Five collection of core pieces will become sustainable, he said, eating up as few transportation miles as possible, using organic fabrics, and ensuring that the clothes are made in small workshops, rather than in large factories.

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