Repetto has heard the siren call of Los Angeles, and it’s heading West. Just as designers such as Tom Ford, Hedi Slimane, Nicholas Kirkwood and Jeremy Scott succumbed to the city’s creative vibe, Repetto America chief executive officer Gilles Assor believes L.A. will be an inspiring backdrop for the brand’s activities.
“The scene in L.A. is like the scene I found 10 years ago in New York,” Assor said. “You can find so many creative people there. When I took over Repetto, I decided to be more disruptive. Fashion isn’t the number-one gem of New York anymore. We started to collaborate with Sia. I was introduced to more people, and staying at the Chateau Marmont Hotel, I saw everyone from contemporary brands to luxury brands organizing events that were more cool and inspiring.”
Repetto Studio in New York’s Chelsea closed its doors on Wednesday. The space, which opened in the spring of 2018, will relocate to the West Coast before the end of the year. During its tenure in Manhattan, the studio was a private showroom and community space for members where dancers and creatives could take dance classes, as well as a venue for brand events such as exhibitions and collaborations. Repetto’s store on West Broadway in Manhattan’s SoHo will remain open. “We’re generating business with that store,” Assor said. “It’s our first flagship in the U.S.”
The brand’s plans for expansion include customized Repetto Airstreams located throughout L.A. and San Francisco. Customers will be able to purchase limited-edition Repetto shoes directly from the Airstream, where brand specialists will introduce them to products and guide them through styles and sizing. Other items can be ordered online and shipped to consumers’ homes.
The U.S. accounts for 10 to 15 percent of Repetto’s worldwide sales of $66.5 million, according to Assor, who added that the U.S. wholesale business is up by 100 percent. While many of Repetto’s fans are dancers, the brand has broader appeal with Bella Hadid, Lily Rose Depp, Jennifer Lawrence, Alexa Chung, Mark Ronson and Mick Jagger, among those who wear the shoes.
“We’re going to have several Airstreams,” Assor said. “We have the possibility of moving them around to different places. I’m talking to a fitness expert who teaches classes at the beach. We could also go to an amazing house in Hollywood. We can partner with famous people or yoga experts. We already have agreements with some retailers in Venice and with the San Francisco Ballet, where we’ll go in November. The silver vintage Airstream is being reproduced for us.”
Assor called Repetto’s first limited-edition product sold via Airstream “a very disruptive ballet flat. It’s about legalization. It could be something happening in California,” he said of the shoe’s theme, declining to elaborate. “It will be our first vegan shoe. We’re working with a new creative design studio in Paris that also works with fashion brands of the moment. The vegan shoe is a new area. We’re developing new technologies and techniques such as working with pineapple and apple skins.”
The “legalization” shoes will be priced from $295 to $325. The laces adjust the width of the shoes and can be customized with embellishments such as tassels.
Repetto in October will open a 3,000-square-foot pop-up shop on Beverly Drive, followed by a permanent brick-and-mortar location. “We have an option to convert the pop-up and stay there,” Assor said. “I did the same thing when I opened the Repetto Studio in Chelsea. I leased the space for two months and stayed for two years. If we like the space, we’ll transform it.”
A Repetto Studio is on the drawing board, Assor said. “We have a lot of requests about the studio,” he said. “We have a lot of members of the studio who are from L.A., but we have fashion week coming with the Airstream launching. I’m one person and I have one team.
“Almost four years ago, I started to feel that everything in New York was changing,” Assor said. “When I speak with New Yorkers, they say a lot of things changed after 2008. I was still feeling the energy for a couple of years [after that]. Right now, New York is still an amazing city, but for the people living and working there, everything is becoming more and more frustrating. There’s construction everywhere and nobody can afford an apartment anymore.
“Part of my heart will stay in New York with the West Broadway store,” Assor said. “Everybody is talking about the fact that the Internet is taking over retail and all business models are dead and have to be reinvented. The reaction and appetite for our product in L.A. is amazing. Repetto is a magical brand.”