NEW YORK — Philipp Plein, the German designer known for turning rock ’n’ roll and street influences into luxury fashion, has opened his first Manhattan store, a 2,000-square-foot flagship at 625 Madison Avenue, between 58th and 59th streets.
The location is considered prime real estate, with commensurate rents. Asking rents on Madison Avenue were up 12.4 percent to $1,519 a square foot in the second quarter, according to Cushman & Wakefield. Plein, who operates 36 stores around the world, said the cost is worth it. “My dream was always to have a store in New York,” he said. “It’s one of the most important destinations. It’s a fashion metropole. New York gives you visibility. We are a luxury brand and we are very expensive. As we build a brand and start to enter the U.S. market, we wanted to position the brand in a luxury neighborhood.”
Plein definitely wants to be noticed. Rita Ora performed during his fall 2014 runway show at the Teatro Alcione in Milan and Naomi Campbell opened and closed the show. Iggy Azalea and Grace Jones have performed at Plein spectacles in seasons past. But the designer insisted that the Madison Avenue flagship is no exercise in vanity. “We are not opening the store for the image only,” he said. “We are retailers and we have to make a business out of it. The U.S. is very difficult, it’s very saturated. You have to prepare your product. We had to step up certain things to be ready.”
The flagship, which offers men’s and women’s wear, accessories, handbags, shoes and jewelry, is expected to average $3,000 a square foot in sales, Plein said.
A unit on Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills is opening next month. “We see the potential for 10 stores in the next two years,” said Plein, who is based in Lugano, Switzerland. “Maybe a second store in New York and stores in San Francisco, Las Vegas, Boston and Aspen.” Plein opened his first U.S. store in Miami’s Aventura Mall in December.
With his collection topping out at 2,000 pieces each season, Plein has started opening larger stores. His early stores were in the 800- to 1,200-square-foot range; the designer now wants no less than 1,500 square feet and as much as 4,000 square feet. A 4,000-square-foot unit in Istanbul is set to open in the winter. A 3,000-square-foot Monte Carlo store opened in February. On Via Montenapoleone in Milan, Plein separated men’s and women’s, opening a 1,600-square-foot women’s store. He’s now looking for a men’s store with 1,500 to 2,000 square feet of space and is more than doubling the size of the Paris unit to over 3,000 square feet.
The 36-year-old Plein, who started the company 15 years ago, has managed to grow the business without outside investments, and he said he wants to keep it that way. “We want to stay independent,” he said. “At the moment, [outside investors] and going public don’t appeal to me. We are strong enough for the next few years to develop the growth ourselves. All the cash flow goes back into the company.”
The Madison Avenue store has a black marble facade, and black marble floors with inlaid steel to create a herringbone pattern. There’s a large black skull studded with Swarovski crystal and a Murano glass chandelier with skull-shaped candleholders. The hexagonal shape used in Plein’s logo appears on walls, ceilings and display cases.