LONDON — Rag & Bone is carrying on with its European expansion, with plans to launch its headquarters and flagship in London today, WWD has learned.
Chief executive officer, founder and creative director Marcus Wainwright said the Soho store and launch of its headquarters are a part of the company’s rollout plan. He said while there a no concrete plans in the future to open elsewhere in London or the U.K., their global plan is key. “Our international strategy is a big focus but not necessarily our own retail,” said Wainwright. “We have a huge opportunity in wholesale. We’re very small internationally — relative to our American business.”
He said that the weaker pound is great if you are in Europe. “Our London business is very strong,” said Wainwright. “It’s challenging for the American business because the pound is worth a lot less. So it’s not as attractive for the English to come to New York the same way they used to. It used to be a huge advantage to be able to come to New York and spend a pound here but you’ve got to take the rough with the smooth. It’s always going to happen and currency is always going to fluctuate…”
Wainwright said the brand’s stockists in Europe and the U.K. are performing well. “It’s tough out there,” said Wainwright. “The retail environment is challenging. People’s priorities are changing but we’re just focused on what we do and how we market ourselves and the authenticity of the brand and clarifying what we stand for.”
With the uncertainty of Brexit, Wainwright said for his business, he believes that “it will link back in some way but it doesn’t really affect the decision-making process.”
“It’s just a state of the world,” said Wainwright. “It’s something you’ve got to work around. But people will always need clothes and they’ll always need a beautiful place to shop and go and hang out and that’s been our focus. Creating an environment that’s very Rag & Bone and speak to the brand and really clarify what we stand for as a company. What Brexit will bring, I don’t know.”
Wainwright said London was an “obvious choice” with Soho chosen as an “iconic part of town.”
“Soho — at the very beginning — is amazingly energetic place,” said Wainwright. “It wasn’t a sort of fashion center of London. It was a little seedy in places but it’s always had a lot of energy and beautiful architecture and it’s right in the middle of London in some ways. We were looking forever. It just came a point where we thought right well this is just being forced and it’s not working, maybe it’s the wrong place. Why don’t we look in Soho? We have a lot of life connections to Soho. It’s near Jermyn street, Savile Row and Liberty. It has a lot of energy. It didn’t necessarily seem like an obvious place but when we started looking we found this incredible building. It just felt like the right thing to do.”
Wainwright said he spent some time in London while he was growing up and for work.
“My father is a diplomat so I grew up all over the world,” said Wainwright. “But I spent a lot of time in London and worked in London for a little bit before I left the come to New York.”
A part of the company’s retail expansion, the brand has taken over a five-story late Victorian, early Edwardian building built in the 1900s, occupying 14,000 square feet located on 50-54 Beak Street in Soho. The interior of the building takes its cue from its New York roots with exposed brick and plaster and concrete floors. Bespoke furniture such as brass racks, walnut and metal display units as well as a denim bar finished with walnut burl and concrete. The store will stock the full men’s and women’s ready-to-wear, denim, footwear and accessories collections. The first floor will carry the brand’s women’s wear range while the lower ground floor will house men’s wear.
This store opening marks the third location for the company with other boutiques located in Sloane Square and Spitalfields.
Elsewhere, Wainwright said the brand’s fragrance which launched at the end of last year, is performing well while label’s eyewear will launch next year.
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