NEW YORK — Maison Kitsuné has landed in the Lower East Side.
This story first appeared in the April 14, 2015 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The French and Japanese fashion brand has opened its second New York City store on Rivington Street between Bowery and Chrystie Streets.
Although the block isn’t a prime retail destination, the 700-square-foot shop fits right in. It sits next to Green Fingers, a Japanese botanical shop that will fill the new space with plants, and is across the street from the Freemans mini empire, whose lifestyle proposition — it expanded from a restaurant to a barber shop and men’s wear brand — is quite similar to that of Maison Kitsuné, which started as a music label, evolved into an apparel brand, and now has two Café Kitsuné shops in Paris and one in Tokyo.
Masaya Kuroki, who cofounded the brand in 2002 with Gildas Loaëc, Daft Punk’s former manager, is pleased with the location.
“It’s important to feel the neighborhood. There’s already a life and culture here,” said the architect-turned-designer, who was happy to see three stylish men attempt to browse the store before it officially opened last Friday.
Kuroki thought in dichotomies when designing the store. While he wanted the space to be a rougher take than the brand’s first New York boutique at the NoMad Hotel, which opened in 2012, he also tried to maintain a feminine feel to offset the masculine, downtown neighborhood.
So far, the feminine aesthetic is winning. The intimate store is bright with tiled tin ceilings, varnished oak parquet floors and off-white walls. The entire men’s and women’s line, along with an exclusive, limited-edition collection of sweatshirts and T-shirts, is displayed on white and wooden fixtures, which Kuroki expects to look perfectly worn within six months. Fitting rooms are covered in the Banana Leaf wallpaper modeled after that at the Beverly Hills Hotel, and a small outdoor courtyard is located in the back. Kuroki, a coffee enthusiast, is also considering opening a café within the store.
The multilayered brand has a lot to juggle, but retail expansion is top of mind for 2015. Within this year it plans to open its first store in Hong Kong and a fourth shop in Paris, which will be its flagship location. Kuroki said most of their business comes from Asia where Maison Kitsuné will set up a second Tokyo shop in early 2016. A West Coast store is also on the agenda.
The U.S. accounts for 30 percent of sales, which were $15.86 million in 2014, a 51 percent increase from 2013 sales of $10.45 million. It currently has more than 300 global points of sale that include Nordstrom, Opening Ceremony and J. Crew. The women’s collection continues to expand and is now 60 percent of the assortment in the U.S.
“We want to get better at what we are doing. This year we are opening a lot of stores and after that we have to run them. Making stores look good is easy, but the infrastructure has to be strong,” he said.
Another growth driver will be the accessories category. The brand recently collaborated with Reebok on two men’s and women’s styles (the Reebok Freestyle Hi and Classic Leather shoe models), which were available exclusively in Japan last month and sold out.
Kuroki admitted the label still has a long way to go.
“Accessories is an entire other business plan. It’s a real collection,” Kuroki said. “We love bags and we travel all the time, but we understand that we’re not Hermès yet. One day,” he said optimistically.