NEW YORK — Next month is going to a busy one for Tomas Maier.
The German-born designer is rejiggering his boutique in Greenwich Village into the brand’s first men’s-only flagship and he’s gearing up for a re-launch of his e-commerce business through a partnership with Farfetch.
In an interview at his Madison Avenue offices here, Maier said the 900-square-foot store at 407 Bleecker Street, which now carries men’s and women’s, is too small to give the brand’s men’s assortment the depth it deserves.
“Our business is 75 percent women’s and 25 percent men’s and every store we have is the same,” he said. “Men’s is always limping behind. But we have a very loyal clientele so it would be nice to have one store in New York that concentrates on them.”
The men’s store will carry the entire Tomas Maier range of ready-to-wear, accessories, footwear and eyewear. “We’ve had the store for two years and it’s too small to display men’s and women’s properly,” he said. “Sometimes it’s not so easy for men to shop in a women’s store, so we’re going to make a real world for men.”
He said, physically, the store “won’t change much” and the interior design, which sports exposed brick, off-white painted walls, wood-plank floors and wood furniture displays designed by Maier, will remain the same. “We’ll change the window displays and if we have books, it’ll be books that men want to look at,” he cited as an example. “We’ll also have more folded product — not everything will be hanging. I think men shop better in an environment like that.”
While his line is carried at other high-end retail stores as well as online, this will be the only place where the entire collection will be showcased. “We have tons of staples that men really love,” he said, noting that the store will also carry lots of shirts, sweaters, windbreakers and styles of pants that are popular with the male shopper.
Maier acknowledged that Bleecker Street has its challenges, with an array of empty storefronts littering the once-hot shopping street, but he believes its location at the west end of the block will draw shoppers from both the Village and Chelsea. The store is located in a town house that dates from the 1840s.
“Bleecker Street was a street that I always liked since coming to New York in the Seventies,” he said. “There was a mix of mom-and-pops, bakeries, antiques dealers and then Marc Jacobs came. Then it became like Main Street. The big names and the greediness of the landlords killed the street.”
Yet he didn’t consider relocating.
“I’m a believer and I don’t want to go away,” he said. “I’m hopeful rents will start going in the right direction. It’s still one of the most charming streets in New York.”
There are four other Tomas Maier stores selling men’s and women’s around the country — Madison Avenue and East Hampton in New York and Bal Harbour and Palm Beach in Florida — and Maier didn’t rule out adding more men’s-only stores if the Bleecker Street boutique is successful.
“Why couldn’t it exist somewhere else?” he asked. The logical next step would be Tokyo, he said, where men and women don’t like shopping together. “That could be a great opportunity for men alone,” he said, noting that the brand has wholesale accounts there, but not its own stores.
Overall, the brand’s volume is split nearly evenly between the U.S. and overseas and the impending partnership with Farfetch Black & White is expected to significantly enhance the business internationally.
“Our current split of the business is 45 percent international and 55 percent U.S., excluding directly operated stores,” said Giuseppe Giovannetti, Tomas Maier’s chief executive officer. “We feel strongly that this partnership with Farfetch will help support our international growth by allowing us access to a full global delivery, starting on our launch date.”
Maier said it’s going to be “a new adventure” with Farfetch, a digital marketplace for high-end fashion brands, which will allow him to retain his aesthetic online. His store on Farfetch will launch on June 24.
Farfetch does not hold stock and takes a reported commission of about 20 to 25 percent on every sale it makes. It counts around 500 retailers and some 150 stand-alone designers and brands and notches 10 million monthly visits, with an average transaction value of $700 an order.
Maier said, “There are only a couple of major players if you want to have your own business worldwide. We’ve had an online business since 2000, but we could only fulfill orders in the U.S. We lost a lot of business in Europe and Asia, so we decided to team up.”
Farfetch will handle the back end and Maier will deliver the merchandise, he said, and every piece in the collection will be offered for sale.
“For a small designer company like we are, it’s basically impossible to survive,” he said. “Small stores are closing because everybody is shopping online and department stores are in trouble. So for us to get our name out there, we didn’t want to open stores ourselves. Is that the future? No. We would only open in strategic places.” Instead, a partnership with Farfetch presents a more appealing option.
He expects Asia to be among the largest markets, along with Italy, Germany and other European countries.
Maier, who has also served as the creative director of Bottega Veneta since 2001, founded his own brand in 1997. He entered into a venture with Kering three years ago, a move that allowed his label to expand its offering into a full lifestyle collection.