LONDON — Yves Salomon is planting its roots firmly into London retail — despite the very vocal presence of antifur protesters in the city — with the opening of its first store in Mayfair.
The boutique, which is located on the buzzy Conduit Street, across from Giuseppe Zanotti and Vivienne Westwood, mirrors the evolution of the label, which has been refreshing its image and attracting a younger audience.
The space, which spans two floors, features modernist interiors filled with white marble and gold accents and showcases the breadth of the brand’s new range, which moved beyond its signature furs to focus on shearling and leather outerwear, as well as accessories.
“We’ve been developing our world of luxury outerwear and are very proud to be considered as a fashion brand,” said Yves Salomon during a preview. “Shearling and leather now make up about 60 percent of our offering. We are expanding a lot in that direction, but we also want to keep the fur tradition of being the highest-quality furrier and to mix both messages.”
Salomon also pointed to a collaboration with Moon Boots, where the brand added playful animal-print panels on the popular ski boots for a new focus on creating “total looks.”
The store opening comes as the brand has been developing its wholesale business in the U.K. It’s had a successful partnership with Harrods — one of the few London department stores that still stands behind real fur — for the last four years, with presences in three areas of the Knightsbridge store and is set to debut another partnership with Selfridges, which is a no-fur business, but has picked up its leather and shearling collections.
Salomon said he felt there was space in the market for the brand to communicate its message and reach new consumers.
He chose Mayfair and Conduit Street to ensure that there is no crossover with the Harrods audience and the brand is placed close to Savile Row and Bond Street.
“We could have been in Bond Street, but I feel like Bond Street for me is a little bit more statutory and I would want to have a cooler atmosphere,” said Salomon, adding that he was also drawn to the idea of taking over a space that originally belonged to a furrier, Hockley, and keeping the tradition alive. “We kept the historical workshop downstairs, the only fur workshop in England, and it gives us the capacity to remodel old clothes, which is part of our sustainability strategy, and to take bespoke orders.”
Salomon has not been deterred by the threat of Brexit, saying that despite some unavoidable economic impact, London will remain an international melting pot.
He is equally unfazed by the antifur debate that has been causing turmoil in the industry, with many luxury brands going fur-free and violent antifur protesters threatening showgoers during London Fashion Week.
“I think the noise is bigger than the economic impact [around fur],” he said, pointing to the importance of freedom of choice and recognizing an opportunity for fur businesses to work toward improving animal welfare. “I think men and women who want really luxurious outerwear, like to have a natural not a fake product. At the end of the day it is the consumer that decides how to run his own life and we encourage people to be free with their decisions. How can a trade which produces products that are appealing to the consumer ever be dead?”