Olivia Kim is proving to be a powerful asset for Nordstrom. The latest brand she’s wrangled in her role as vice president of creative projects for the Seattle-based department store is Hermès.
The two companies have collaborated on a temporary “Nordstrom Welcome Hermès” boutique at the downtown Seattle flagship that will be open from Tuesday through the end of 2017. Conceived as an accessory-only destination, the shop-in-shop will focus on men’s silk, women’s silk and fashion jewelry.
“I think what makes it really special is that it’s the first time in Hermès’ world where they separated out their métier,” Kim said. “They’ve always really had the entire world of Hermès represented in all of their own stores. It’s interesting for us to be able to launch a concept that’s just solely focused around accessories, which was really modern. It feels like a new way of capturing a different type of customer and to capture potentially a younger customer or a ‘new to the brand’ customer.”
Kim, who is responsible for the Space boutiques at Nordstrom, initially contacted Hermès about being part of her first Pop-In at Nordstrom shop, themed French Fling. At the time Robert Chavez, president and chief executive officer of Hermès USA, said “’We don’t do a department store business,” recalled Kim. “We really isolate our products just to be in our own stores. We kept in touch for all this time.”
In deciding to work with Nordstrom on Hermès’ first ever pop-up concept, Chavez said, “Our goal was to give Hermès exposure to a broader audience, one which has most likely never come into a Hermès boutique before. The categories to be offered are men’s and women’s silk and jewelry accessories. What we like to call ‘recruitment’ metiers or product categories.”
He added, “Nordstrom is known for their extraordinary customer service which is very appealing to us and matches our own ambitions for great client service. Their flagship in Seattle has incredible traffic and the exposure we will get is very appealing to us.”
The shop’s build out was designed by Robert Storey of StoreyStudio. Some of the design components include colors inspired by Hermès’ silks, cutout walls with colorful edges, mirrored surfaces, magnetic boards on which the enamel bracelets will be displayed, and a suspension installation of hundreds of silk strands.
“It’s like a playground,” Kim said. “We’re playing with a lot of color. We’re playing with a lot of peek-a-boo moments. We’re definitely playing with nontraditional ways of merchandising some pretty traditional products like scarves, silk, handkerchiefs and ties.”
The design underscores the accessories-only concept’s interest in engaging with a new audience. “I think [accessories] are the most attainable [category], right?” Kim said. “It’s easy for a new or a younger customer to come in and have a piece of Hermès without feeling super intimidated by price point or intimidated by some of the more expensive, elevated, less available products that are out there, like bags.”
Some of the brands Kim has worked with on a pop-up or conceptual basis within Nordstrom are Alexander Wang, Nike, Vans and Liberty. The Space boutiques she oversees are dedicated to advanced fashion labels such as Vetements, Comme des Garcons and Simone Rocha. Hermès is one of the most luxurious brands to fall under Kim’s purview at Nordstrom. It’s also going to have one of the store’s longest running pop-ups. “That’s pretty exciting because it allows us to learn and react in real-time whereas with the other pop-ups you only have four weeks,” Kim said. “Here, we’ll be able to know what the customer is responding to.”