WEST HOLLYWOOD, Calif. — Wildfox is putting a girlish touch on its burgeoning retail empire.
In its new store on Sunset Plaza, the first in a chain stretching from the U.S. to Japan, the fast-growing young contemporary brand is conjuring a Millennial’s dream closet sequestered inside a French chateau. Awash in pink, the 2,000-square-foot space that was unveiled last week houses hardbound copies of Jane Austen novels that remind shoppers of the inspiration for the fall collection, which prominently features roses, as seen in the flower crowns topping mannequins’ heads. Pink-tinted chandeliers cast a warm glow on the brass furniture, such as the four-poster bed, a vintage Mastercraft table bearing an array of screen-printed Ts and shelves of sunglasses that users can customize exclusively in the store. The metallic-coated sepia wallpaper in the dressing room is a collage of photos from past look books and ad campaigns. An Art Deco credenza doubles as the cash register and a display for jewelry by Chanel and Leenabell.
Wildfox has been on a growth spurt since it was launched seven years ago with T-shirts cut in an A-line silhouette and plastered with cheeky sayings conjured by creative director Kimberly Gordon (one slogan on a $110 terry-cloth sweatshirt from the current collection reads: “You can call me anything you want, just don’t call me early in the morning.”)
In 2009, it introduced girls’ clothing and its most popular body, the baggy beach jumper, cut out of an ultrasoft rayon-polyester-spandex blend. Two years later, the company started a regular procession of new products: sweaters, swimsuits, a shoe collaboration with Jeffrey Campbell, sunglasses, solid-colored knits, pajamas, denim, towels and totes. For the coming resort season, it’s offering an eight-piece collection for the Barbie brand. Next year, Wildfox will extend its reach to lingerie, handbags, footwear and an $89 fragrance produced by Elizabeth Arden in a bottle decorated in its signature palette of pink and brass.
With all this merchandise, Wildfox needed a retail space to display them, in addition to its wholesale network that spans 30 countries with 1,200 boutiques, department stores such as Galeries Lafayette, and shops-in-shop at Bloomingdale’s and Harrods. Picking Sunset Plaza, which is known for its alfresco dining and handful of fashion stores including BCBG Max Azria and Zadig & Voltaire, seemed an unlikely spot as other youthful brands are flocking across town to Abbot Kinney Boulevard.
“I knew it was going to be a little tough on this street,” said Jimmy Sommers, Wildfox’s owner, president and chief executive officer. “People come here to eat, not to shop. I hope it’ll be a destination for people to come. Plus, all the traffic. It’s like having a big billboard and it’s close to my house [in the Hollywood Hills].”
Leased for $15,000 a month, the store at Sunset Plaza is the first in a series of openings planned for the U.S. and Asia. November marks the debut of a shop near the beach at the Malibu Country Mart. Sommers is choosing between two different spots in New York’s SoHo neighborhood for a boutique that will open next spring, to be followed by stores in Miami and Chicago. A Japanese partner is stepping in for a joint venture that will build as many as five stores in Tokyo. All the new stores will share the same decor done by Katie Hurley at Sunset Plaza. With sales already surpassing $100 million, Sommers estimates that the retail expansion will push that figure closer to $200 million in a year.
“You don’t want to move too slow or too fast,” Sommers said. “The quality — you’ve got to keep it up.”