SÃO PAULO — Brazilian beachwear brand Osklen will invest more than $5 million to operate 10 stores in the U.S. by 2020, with hopes to roll out a New York flagship and Los Angeles location in 12 months, founding designer Oskar Metsavaht said.
“Our five-year growth project is only for the U.S. market,” Metsavaht told WWD, adding that the brand is setting up offices and a showroom to lead the expansion to run more stores beyond the company’s two existing locations in New York’s SoHo and Miami’s South Beach. “The idea is to have 10 stores, to grow in wholesale and launch e-commerce in two years.”
The move comes as Osklen shuttered its Italian operation last year because “we had a lot of problems with our franchisor and the operation was not doing well,” said marketing manager Nelson Camargo, adding that two Milan and one Rome shop closed.
That left one of Brazil’s best-known fashion exports with one store in Mykonos and 30 doors in Japan, including two franchised stores and 28 multibranded shelves, Camargo said.
In Brazil, the brand, which is known for selling high-end unisex beachwear, footwear and apparel, operates 81 doors, with more than 50 of those directly owned.
Osklen is not doing very well. First-half earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization fell 50 percent to 4.2 million reals, or $1.56 million at current exchange, on gross revenues down 3.3 percent to 578.5 million reals, said Alpargatas, which owns 60 percent of the brand, in a second-quarter earnings statement.
After opening the SoHo shop in 2008, and frustrated attempts to build a larger U.S. footprint, Metsavaht said Alpargatas recently researched the market and found the time is ripe for expansion.
Textiles and retail group Alpargatas is also rushing to expand other key brands, such as Havaianas, to survive a three percent decline in Brazil’s GDP this year.
“The U.S. economy is recovering from the recession, doing better than Europe, and we have a budget to invest,” Metsavaht said. “I spend a lot of time in the U.S. and I see people like my design and brand proposal.”