NEW YORK — The fast-growing retro sportswear label Original Penguin by Munsingwear is stepping up the pace in retail.

The brand, a division of Perry Ellis International, has stores opening soon in Miami and Newport Beach, Calif., and is considering markets around the country for more locations. It now has one store in Manhattan.

“We think we could have 20 to 30 stores in the next five years,” said Chris Kolbe, president of Penguin. “We have discovered that stores are the best platform for us to roll out our brand to the end consumer and it gives us optimal control over the customer experience.”

The company has wholesale sales of about $5 million. Kolbe said retail may eventually generate as much as $50 million to $60 million in sales, and wholesale could also grow to that level.

The 2,400-square-foot Miami store is to open in December in an Art Deco building on Lincoln Road, a retail hot spot. The decor will be slightly different from the New York unit, and will have a retro feel with vintage family photos and mid-20th-century American and Danish furnishings.

The Newport Beach store is slated to open at the Fashion Mall in February.

“Each store will be tailored to the local aesthetic,” Kolbe said, noting that Penguin is scouting locales and is looking primarily at street locations, not malls.

“Our stores are great from a brand-building standpoint, but we want them to be profitable, as well,” he said. “We feel we have the brand and the background to be successful at retail, but we don’t want to be too hasty rolling out stores. We don’t want to have a chain-store effect.”

Kolbe has retail experience, having worked at J. Crew and Urban Outfitters before joining Penguin. The company also has tapped Scott Link, a former senior vice president at Polo Ralph Lauren Corp., as vice president of retail to oversee its expansion. The stores will compete with chains such as J. Crew and Banana Republic, although Penguin’s products are more quirky, with a modern take on vintage-inspired prints and styles.

Penguin, which targets women and men between the ages of 25 and 40, relaunched about two years ago, primarily as a men’s brand. This past spring marked its first full-scale introduction into women’s after testing items for two seasons. In addition to sportswear, the company makes swimwear and denim, and also has some licensed categories such as eyewear and children’s apparel.

This story first appeared in the October 27, 2005 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Women’s accounts for about one-third of the business, although at retail it generates about 50 percent of revenue. Penguin products are primarily sold at specialty stores and boutiques. Kolbe said in coming seasons, the company will offer more upscale and tailored products for women.

load comments
blog comments powered by Disqus