The Webster is making a leap out of its home state of Florida and will open a store at the Houston Galleria this fall.
The 5,000-square-foot unit will carry 70 percent women’s wear and 30 percent men’s wear and will offer the company’s highly curated assortment of luxury and up-and-coming designer apparel brands, accessories and footwear from Alexander Wang, Aurélie Bidermann, Chloé, Eddie Borgo, Givenchy, Proenza Schouler, Pierre Hardy, Maison Rabih Kayrouz, Olympia Le-Tan, Rosie Assoulin, Sonia Rykiel, Saint Laurent, Stella McCartney and Valentino.
The store will also feature about 20 collaborations exclusive to the Houston unit from Aurélie Bidermann, Edie Parker, Gigi Burris, JC Obando, Ines de la Fressange, Linda Farrow, Maison Michel, Nektar, Olympia Le-Tan, Rosie Assoulin and Sonia Rykiel in women’s and Ami, Bamford Watch Department, Hood By Air, Max Snow, Off-White, Raf Simons and The Elder Statesmen in men’s.
“We had some clients come to The Webster during Art Basel and they liked what we do and said they wanted a store there,” said Laure Heriard Dubreuil, chief executive officer and cofounder of the retailer. “I had never been to Houston, but I went and saw there was a market.”
Advantageous lease terms from developer Simon Property Group, which is investing $250 million into upgrading the shopping center, sealed the deal.
Anchored by Neiman Marcus, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom and Macy’s, the Galleria features about 400 stores in 1.9 million square feet and generates more than $1 billion in annual sales.
The Webster will occupy part of a contemporary glass building under construction on Westheimer Road. The 14,000-square-foot structure, tagged the “jewel box,” will also house a restaurant and connect to the mall.
Heriard Dubreuil said the fact that The Webster could have its own independent space was another reason she opted to open at the Galleria. The company’s flagship in Miami and its unit in Bal Harbour, Fla., were in existing buildings, she said, “but this one I could see coming being built up from the ground up.” It will feature a private car park complete with dedicated valet service.
The store will integrate design elements from The Webster’s two other units with a mint quartzite entryway, “Webster brown” walls and blush wool carpet. Racks will offer a combination of Rosso Levanto marble and antique brass.
Heriard Dubreuil said the decor is intended to feel like a living room with vintage wallpaper, a mix of custom and antique furniture and artwork from Houston native Snow, as well as photography from Ellen von Unwerth and Dennis Hopper. She is also designing some of the furniture for the shop, she said.
“In this era of fast fashion, it’s good to have places where time stops,” she said.
Heriard Dubreuil said the store is expected to have a soft opening at the end of November and a grand opening in either December or January.
Although she acknowledged that the next logical step for the expansion of The Webster would have been New York City or Los Angeles, she opted instead for Houston because it’s “not too far from Miami” and she can spend time there making sure everything is running up to her standards.
“I had never been to Miami either,” she said. “And everyone told me it was for old people. But I like to take risks and I know I’ll have the clientele in Houston.”
She said she recently started staffing up the business, bringing on a director of stores and a managing director as well as an internal head of communications as the company looks to expand further in the future.
“I have a strong team now,” she said, adding that she expects New York to be the site of the next Webster unit. “My husband is from California, though, and can’t stand the New York winters, so he’s already telling people I’m going to open in Los Angeles,” she said with a laugh.
She said she is also exploring possible openings in Europe and has been contacted by potential financial partners willing to help fund the expansion.
But for now, it’s being paid for internally.
“Our stores are super successful,” she said, noting that sales have increased fivefold in the past four years. This is spurred by a 50 percent sales gain in the Miami flagship, a 25 percent increase in Bal Harbour and a 25 percent gain from the company’s store on Farfetch.com. Profits in that same period have doubled, she added, noting that she expects to launch her own e-commerce site next year.
“So we are making some money for our next adventure,” she said.