BARCELONA — Simorra, the upscale Barcelona-based women’s ready-to-wear company, is poised to take on the U.S. with a retail plan that includes company-owned stores and added distribution through high-end specialty retailers and shops-in-stores like Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, export manager Joaquin Simorra said.
This story first appeared in the July 14, 2004 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The company’s first U.S. location is to open Sept. 23 in the Willow Bend shopping center in Plano, Tex., followed by the Oct. 4 debut of a store in the Short Hills Mall in Short Hills, N.J. A third shop is planned for March at Westfarms in Farmington, Conn.
Simorra will roll out another 10 to 12 stores over the next three years. “We’re going to the U.S. long term, not for one season, and our expansion there is not dependent on the dollar-euro exchange rate, although we think and hope that the dollar will toughen up,” Simorra said.
He predicted sales in the U.S. would total between $4 million and $5 million next year “if our own stores are moving along and we’re in the [department store] chains.”
Although a relatively unknown label in the U.S., the 25-year-old firm’s revenues last year reached $38 million based on sales from 20 company-owned and franchised stores in Spain and an additional 800 doors in Europe and the U.S., where Simorra has been selling through a distributor for two years. Seventy percent of the company’s 100 U.S. salespoints are on the East Coast, Simorra said, while principal European markets are Italy, the U.K., Portugal and the Benelux countries.
Simorra, which is owned and managed by the fourth generation of the family, produces 300,000 pieces a year in Barcelona, where its turn-of-the-century headquarters on the Catalan capital’s Calle Bailén are the size of a city block at more than 40,000 square feet. With 19th-century moldings and original stained glass, it houses the design, pattern-making and cutting departments; administration; a showroom for international clients, and warehouse facilities. “We want to keep these roots,” Simorra said.
The company in May opened a New York showroom on Seventh Avenue headed by Sever Garcia, formerly of Pronovias USA, and later in the month, its first Portuguese store, in Lisbon.
“If you don’t have your own stores, you don’t show who you are,” Garcia said. Simorra’s U.S. niche is “between updated classics and fashion-forward; we are not bridge but a luxury rtw classification with retail prices [for winter 2004-’05] ranging from $300 to $1,400. We’re not a mass market product. Our customer — aged 28-44 in the U.S., slightly older in Spain — appreciates quality and she has good taste.”
Simorra offers embellished special-occasion dressing for fall-winter, including strong silhouettes and heavily sequined pieces, both separates and dresses, with what Garcia described as “a unique European flair,” and unexpected texture combinations such as patterned wools, metallics, embroidered tulle and hand-cut leather fringe in sober color mixes of black and silver or brown and copper.
Creative director and designer Javier Simorra (Joaquin’s brother) said he has intensified his game for the U.S. “The soul of the collection is whim and emotion because everyone has a full closet,’’ he said. “Emotion is the motor of creativity. I want to make women look pretty. We work with what we like, not with what [we think] will sell,” he said.
With infectious enthusiasm and lots of hand gestures, Javier Simorra opined about the seduction of fabric. “It has life, movement; it lives and breathes.” Endless research is key to Simorra’s modus operandi, he said. “I check about 10,000 fabrics per season before coming up with a samples collection of 2,000.” The company buys from Italy, France, India and Switzerland, as well as domestic textile manufacturers, but the entire production is made in a nearby, family-owned factory.
And to promote the product? Continued participation is planned at the Coterie show in New York, where Simorra has exhibited for three seasons and a runway debut in Bryant Park during New York Fashion Week, either in February or in September 2005, Garcia said. “Then we’ll see where we go from there.”