LONDON — Manolo Blahnik is furthering its international retail expansion with the opening of its first stand-alone store in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia.
The store, which spans 1,022 square feet, is located in the specialty retail area of the Pavilion mall, a popular lifestyle destination in Kuala Lumpur with more than 550 retail outlets ranging from high street to luxury labels. Brands including Nike, Topshop, Gap, Céline, Loewe and Cartier have retail locations in the mall.
Blahnik worked alongside architect Nick Leith-Smith on the store’s design, which blends the designer’s humor and playful aesthetic with local influences. Using bamboo, a material traditionally used for furniture and artisan scaffolding in the area, Leith-Smith created a more polished, elegant version of a tropical forest in-store.
Long bamboo sticks neatly positioned in parallel patterns are scattered across the retail space, while the patterned marble floor draws inspiration from palm leaves. Circular brass lights are suspended from the ceiling creating a canopylike structure. The shoes are displayed on individual brass shelves, arranged in asymmetric, flowing lines.
The space also features two private spaces to allow customers to shop at ease.
Leith-Smith has previously worked with Manolo Blahnik on the brand’s pop-up space at the Isetan department store in Shinjuku, Japan, which received a silver award at the Hong Kong Design Awards + Summit, earlier this year.
The opening is part of the brand’s partnership with the Bluebell Group announced last May. The luxury importer holds distribution rights and manages the brand’s retail developments across Singapore, Japan and Asia, including the opening of a retail flagship in Tokyo planned for 2017. It also provides support for the 41 doors already selling the footwear brand in Japan.
Japan has been the focus of the brand’s rollout plan in Asia, although a growing interest from Malaysian consumers prompted the launch in the Pavilion mall.
“This new location has been launched in relatively unchartered territory for the company where we have witnessed a real appetite for the brand. The Bluebell Group has already proved to be an excellent partner in launching beautiful spaces in prestigious locations, and we look forward to further launches in 2017,” said Kristina Blahnik, chief executive officer at Manolo Blahnik International.
The brand has 310 points of sale in 34 countries, including 13 stand-alone stores. This year has been key for the brand’s flagship retail expansion, having opened its London flagship in Mayfair’s Burlington Arcade last February, as well as an e-commerce platform.
“We’re about finding a place, settling it and seeing how it goes, letting the shoes settle into their clients — and it’s about that. There’s no aggressive tact,” Kristina Blahnik said during the London opening.