Zadig & Voltaire can’t be still. When the Paris-based retailer isn’t opening new stores, it’s remodeling existing ones. This is especially true in the U.S., where growth is a priority, reflecting the brand’s strong performance. Total sales in 2018 climbed 59 percent over last year, according to Christopher Tate, chief executive officer and board member of Zadig & Voltaire. The unit at 992 Madison Avenue, near 77th Street, even captured the title of top-performing store from the Champs-Élysées location in Paris.
So enthralled with the U.S. is the company that the brand will bring its runway show back to New York next season. “We showed here for three seasons,” Tate said. “We took the show to Paris last season.
“Thierry Gillier [Zadig & Voltaire’s founder] says, ‘New York is my second home,'” Tate said.
Providing a singular shopping experience is at the heart of Zadig & Voltaire’s new moves. “I believe experience wins,” Tate said.
The retailer recently unveiled a men’s-only store at 104 Grand Street — the first of its kind worldwide. Another men’s-only store is planned for Los Angeles. The men’s wear business is up 113 percent year-to-date.”We’re finding other locations for men’s-only stores,” Tate said, noting that an existing store in the Meatpacking District has one of the more expansive men’s offerings. “We change the stores often. We’re always changing and shifting things. It’s fashion, it’s always changing.”
New Zadig & Voltaire units are slated to bow in Palm Beach at the end of the month, and San Francisco in 2019. A new retail concept is being implemented at four stores. Wherever possible, the company is stripping stores’ retail spaces down to the studs, and peeling away layers of plaster and paint to reveal vestiges of the spaces’ original uses.
Tate said remodeling stores is an expensive but necessary cost. “It’s an investment we have to make in the brand,” he added. “We need to find new ways to keep the customer engaged. There’s a lot of retail stores and not a lot of people in them.”
Jormi, an artist with a bold graffiti-like style, was painting a piece of furniture with red and black strokes at the unit at 831 Washington Street, the renovation of which was almost finished. Some stores might close if an artist came to paint there, but Zadig & Voltaire believes that Jormi and other artists who work at stores bring energy to the location.
The new concept places a “big emphasis on the accessories business, which is growing exponentially. Accessories is up more than 50 percent over last year. Zadig is a beloved brand. When you connect with customers they’re happy to see us expand into a new category. It’s incredible quality and made in Italy,” Tate said.
“We’re constantly evolving store designs. This is the first of the new concept,” he added, surrounded by the recently uncovered brick walls. The store design utilizes warmer materials such as copper, natural pine wood, open-shelf fixtures and industrial steel beams. Art is always an element in stores, with pieces from Gillier’s personal collection displayed. At the Meatpacking District unit, “Untitled No. 2,” 2015 by Dario Escobar is on view.
The brand’s wholesale sales shot ahead 63 percent in 2018 over 2017. When Zadig & Voltaire in December reopens its space at Bloomingdale’s, its primary department store partner, it will be triple the previous size.
The company’s site, us.zadig-et-voltaire.com, launched in August 2017, but it’s already time to launch a new site, Tate said. The brand’s e-commerce business leapt ahead 119 percent in 2018. “We always find new ways to improve the shopping experience,” Tate said. “The new site will be more efficient and a little more personalized. We’re fully integrated with all of our stores. If a consumer leaves something in their cart and later go to a store, the staff will ask if they want to try on that item.”
While Zadig & Voltaire has been focused on New York for the last few years, “We’re now seeing responses on the web site from customers in Dallas, Atlanta, San Diego, the next level of cities in the U.S.” Including the San Francisco unit, the retailer in 2019 will open five to seven stores in the U.S. at still-to-be-identified locations. Last year, it unveiled 21 units between freestanding stores and concessions in the U.S. Sales in North America were expected to reach $100 million in 2020, but are now seen topping that figure a year earlier, in 2019, Tate said, adding that worldwide sales are $400 million.