Rainforest is taking the plunge into retail.

This story first appeared in the July 28, 2011 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The New York-based high-end outerwear company will open two stores in China this fall. The shops, which will measure around 1,000 square feet each, will be located in shopping centers in Hangzhou and suburban Beijing.

“Emerging markets such as China, India and Russia are where things are happening,” said Rainforest president Jack Wu. “The consumer spending in these areas is growing much faster than it is here, and that will continue for some time. Therefore, Rainforest has decided to go to China for our first store.”

According to a recent Boston Consulting Group report, the fashion market in China is expected to triple in size over the next decade to more than $200 billion.

Wu said the stores are expected to open by the end of September. “The biggest shopping week in China is Oct. 1,” he said, “which is like our Fourth of July.”

The vast majority of the merchandise in the stores will be outerwear for men and women, but the mix will be augmented with shirts and pants as well, Wu said. “We want to be a lifestyle brand, and China is very good for that,” Wu said.

The company recently opened a 3,000-square-foot showroom in China to support the brand’s initiatives in that country.

“We will open the two stores as a test, but we’re ready to expand very fast if they’re successful,” Wu said, adding that he would consider franchising the brand in China. “I could see us opening as many as 100 stores. There are more than 200 cities in China that have more than 2 million people.” He added: “I believe the designers or brands that are currently not in China or not planning to go there soon will miss the boat. All the research indicates that the consumer spending for the upper end in China will surpass the U.S.’s in the near future. China is rapidly becoming a large and important market.”

He said if the Chinese stores turn out to be popular, Rainforest would consider opening stores in the U.S. as well.

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