ANGES B BOUTIQUE OPENS IN CHICAGO
Byline: Elaine Glusac
CHICAGO — Agnes B’s new store on Chicago’s Gold Coast got a warm welcome from a wintry Midwest.
The French fashion company last week opened its 2,600-square-foot store here — its first in the Midwest — selling the same slim-cut, chic looks for women and men sold in 90 Agnes B stores worldwide as well as its cosmetics line, Agnes B Beaute, according to company executives.
“Winter might be more trouble for us here than everywhere else,” admitted Etienne Bourjois, Agnes B’s general director, adding that he will monitor inventory to determine whether to warm up the clothing mix for the city’s traditionally harsh winters.
Nevertheless, despite snow and temperatures that got into the 20s, a busy opening weekend garnered $25,000 in sales over three days, according to acting store manager Jennifer Purcell.
Bestsellers in the women’s line included tweed suit looks in pink and green for spring, red stretch nylon print skirts and tops, polyester black dresses and silk blend polo shirts.
Yves Seban, U.S. chief operating officer for Agnes B, predicted the Chicago location would add approximately $2 million annually to the company’s sales.
In 1996 seven U.S. stores generated $12 million in sales. The United States. locations include four in New York and one each in Boston, Los Angeles and San Francisco.
“We’re such an urban brand,” said Seban of the company’s decision to move into Chicago. “We do well in urban environments. Chicago is an extremely sophisticated city…[The move] was long overdue.”
An in-store pre-opening bash bridged local and foreign culture with French champagne, Indo-French appetizers and entertainment by a Chicago blues quartet.
Partygoers who tried to buy clothes were disappointed to learn they would have to come back two days later when the shop’s computers were up and running.
Scaffolding on the exterior of the building was taken down just minutes before the party.
Despite the last-minute rush the store looked pulled together, with racks of Agnes B’s mostly black, white and gray separates and dresses lining the walls.
Like the clothes, the shop’s interior is spare, with gray concrete floors and mostly white fixtures.
Black electrical tape affixes moody pictures of the collection to white walls.
The store at 46 E. Walton St. joins Urban Outfitters and the soon-to-open Diesel store in extending Chicago’s concentration of specialty stores one street over from tony Oak St.
Agnes B’s Chicago unit is the first of three new U.S. stores planned in 1997.
A Honolulu spot is slated to to be openend in mid-March and a Costa Mesa, Calif., location is planned for later in the year.
Designer Agnes Trouble skipped the Chicago opening. “She is working on the collection which is due in a few weeks,” said Bourjois. “There is no [Agnes B] designer other than her.”