NEW YORK — Parisian furrier Yves Salomon has opened its first New York store, a 700-square-foot unit at 790 Madison Avenue.
That this has been the warmest winter in recent memory hasn’t deterred Thomas Salomon, general manager of the family-owned company, who noted that the brand operates a successful store in the seaside resort of St. Tropez.
“When the pre-collections are delivered to stores in May, it’s warm everywhere in the world and people buy,” he said. “That’s how fashion works.”
A similar phenomenon takes place at the company’s store in Aspen where “we do almost the same turnover in summer as winter,” Salomon said.
“The problem fashion is facing now is that the seasons don’t make any sense,” he added. “No one now wants to wear something warm when it’s not cold, except if it’s a very limited collection. We’re more into buy now and wear now.
“Winter is coming later and later. The weather in New York is not normal weather,” he observed.
Luckily, some consumers want to be prepared for the cold, whenever it comes. Cotton parkas, which are part of the army collection, have been popular, starting at $1,950 for a rabbit-lined jacket; $3,100 for the fox-lined version, and $3,190 for a parka lined with multicolored fox. “We sold two furs and two of the army parkas” in the first week, Salomon said.
Yves Salomon experiments with new techniques for manipulating and transforming skins and uses fur in unexpected ways and unusual combinations to keep coats looking fresh. “A woman wants to wear fur as she wears her wool coat,” Salomon said. “The idea is that we want to keep a reasonable price. We are a luxury product but we also want to have a sharp price to go with the design. We control the raw materials and production.
“We give an extremely fashionable, high-quality product,” he added. “We want our customer to have fun and come and shop regularly. We don’t want the customer to say, ‘I made my investments and did my crazy buy already.’”
Yves Salomon’s shearling and fur vests are $5,000. Chinchilla coats range from $30,000 to $60,000; and sable furs, $70,000 to more than $100,000. Lynx coats cost upward of $250,000.
The company has also been mixing fur with fabric, as in a white and black spotted wool coat with a black and white fox hem. Red, brown, black, violet and aqua-dyed pieces of mink are woven into a chevron pattern for a long coat that’s accented with Tibetan lamb. Astrakhan is combined with crocodile skin and sable, and mink is given the puffer treatment with horizontal rows of fur separated by brands of stud-covered leather.
Yves Salomon was founded by Thomas’ great-grandfather Gregory in 1890 in Siberia, where he was exiled with his family. Salomon became the top fur buyer in St. Petersburg before emigrating to Paris. The second generation of Salomons built the company in the Sixties until Yves, Thomas’ father, took over the business in 1972.
“My father was very much about the raw skins and raw materials,” Salomon said. “He started his own line at the same time that he was producing furs for a lot of designers in the Eighties, such as Dior and Sonia Rykiel.”
Thomas Salomon recognized that the market for furs was shifting. “Marketing and branding was going to become more important, almost as important as the product itself,” Salomon said. “If we were going to continue doing other people’s products and not market ourselves as a brand, we would disappear.”
Yves Salomon is branching into ready-to-wear for spring. “We do a lot of leather and feathers and mixing of leather and silk,” he said. “From January through April, we’re proposing stretch leather pants and leather dresses. We want to work with leather in a contemporary and fashionable way. We did a lot of cashmere and fur for coats. We want the customer to see a coat and not understand what it is. It’s not a fur brand, it’s a cool, luxury brand. We’re being innovative. For the first time, we’re inventing a down and mink coat.”