Byline: Kavita Daswani

HONG KONG — Global men’s wear giant Hugo Boss has staked its claim on the Asian women’s retail landscape by opening four stores in as many weeks.
And that’s just for starters.
The brand, which has a thriving men’s business in southeast Asia, decided that instead of venturing forth slowly, it would blitz the region’s key cities with a string of freestanding stores.
So, within the past month, up popped a 1,600-square-foot boutique in Singapore, another one of equal size in Seoul, a smaller store in Shenzhen, China, and a 3,000-square-foot, two-story boutique in Taipei.
Next on the radar: Hong Kong and Shanghai, perhaps Thailand and Indonesia — and anywhere else the company can go.
Massimo Suppancig, chief executive officer of Boss Woman, said from his office in Milan that developing the Asian business is now as high a priority as pushing it in Europe or the U.S.
“It’s a very important market. We already have a great men’s business there, and we consider all these regions on the same level,” he said.
“We need to have very strong coverage worldwide, and insure that the collection is balanced to fulfill the needs of our consumers all over the world. That’s important to us.”
It appears to be working, too.
A spokeswoman with Boss in Asia said that customers were initially “curious” as to what the line would be like: After all, they see the men’s line as stridently masculine, classic — and expensive.
“They didn’t know what to expect,” she said. “They thought maybe they would see a feminine version of the men’s clothes, with boxy jackets and a lot of suits. But they were very surprised when they saw how feminine the collection is. It’s a line made for females, and not a female version of coats and jackets.”
Selling especially well, even in these early days, are the evening gowns. This is Boss Woman’s first collection, after it showed in Milan last October. Its head of design, Grit Seymour, worked at numerous fashion houses in Europe before joining the Boss group.
Suppancig estimated that, in the medium-term, the contribution of southeast Asia to Boss Woman worldwide sales would be around 8 percent.
The Singapore opening was Boss Woman’s first in Asia, with a store at the Takashimaya shopping mall. A few weeks later, the company opened another 1,600- square-foot boutique in the Central City Mall in Seoul, the city’s newest shopping center. The Shenzhen boutique, under 1,000 square feet at the Shun Hing Plaza, is only a precursor to the China flagship, which will open in the swanky Plaza 66 in Shanghai in March.
And for the Taipei shop, Boss Woman executives took over the space adjacent to the existing men’s boutique, put the men’s collection on an upper floor and used the expanded ground-floor space for the women’s line. While the 3,000- square-foot shop has already had a soft opening, there will be a big debut party slated for after the Chinese New Year holiday season, which started this week.
And Boss Woman executives are in talks to open a freestanding store in Hong Kong in time for next fall’s collection.
There are presently some 75 points-of-sale for the Boss men’s wear in Asia, running from Hong Kong and Macau to the Philippines. The spokeswoman said it was necessary, especially for the women’s line, to have more than one point-of-sale per country. There are also plans to open a flagship in Seoul carrying all the Boss men’s and women’s lines.
“Some locations are just not big enough to accommodate the entire men’ s and women’s collections,” she said. “But this is something we hope to be able to achieve.”

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