LONDON — British shirt-maker Thomas Pink is ramping up its international expansion plans and adding a fashion-forward women’s line created by London-based designer Richard Nicoll.

This story first appeared in the July 15, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The company, which is part of the LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton group, has opened eight stores this year in cities including Singapore; Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia; Beijing, and Las Vegas. More units are planned for Hong Kong, Russia, Japan and Korea.

The 24-year-old brand is known for its men’s and women’s shirts in a plethora of cuts and colors. Jonathan Heilbron, president and chief executive officer, believes the Thomas Pink formula appeals as much in Kuala Lumpur as it does in the Jermyn Street store in London’s St. James.

“I think British style does have a resonance,” Heilbron said. “As we expand [into different countries] and climate comes in, we will make some changes, such as brighter colors [for hotter climates]. But we are finding people like the cut of our shirts.”

The label produces four blocks of cuts of shirts for men and four for women. Customers can choose from an array of different collar and cuff styles. Fabrics range from cotton twills to 200-count cotton shirts through to linen. The company also offers a made-to-order service for its men’s shirts called Personally Pink in selected stores.

This fall Thomas Pink will add new styles to its women’s wear collection, which makes up 20 percent of the brand’s business. Heilbron said the pieces, which will include jackets and dresses, will be “based on a shirting principle.” Prices for the women’s collection range from 69 pounds, or $150, for a shirt to 375 pounds, or $750, for a sequined minidress.

In addition to designing his capsule collection for Thomas Pink, which will bow in August, Nicoll has acted as a consultant to the label across its women’s wear collection. “Richard has added a leading edge [to the collection], he has a very good eye,” Heilbron said.

 

Nicoll’s nine-piece collection is made up of dresses, skirts and shirts in silks and silk satins. “I had a reputation for being ‘king of the shirts,’ so it was a natural collaboration,” Nicoll said. Since his debut at London Fashion Week in February 2004, he’s become known for designing women’s shirts cut in all different ways.

Pieces in the collection include a silk dress with a column of ruffles down its front, a pencil skirt made from cotton stretch gabardine and a shirt made from Italian cotton yarn. Colors include pewter gray, taupe and violet.

“It was my intention to do something more soft and fluid, as my signature is more structured pieces,” Nicoll said, comparing his line with Thomas Pink to his own mainline collections.

Nicoll’s collection will be sold in selected Thomas Pink stores starting in August, and prices will range from 99 pounds, or $195, for a miniskirt, to $250 pounds, or $500, for a silk chiffon dress.

Heilbron said the brand’s collection with Nicoll will also be sold in Thomas Pink’s concession in Selfridges in London, and in selected Thomas Pink stores in the U.S., including New York, San Francisco, Boston and Los Angeles. He declined to give sales predictions. The brand does not wholesale any part of its Thomas Pink collection, but Heilbron said the company operates concessions in Macy’s stores in Chicago, Minneapolis and in Somerset, U.K., similar to its spaces in Selfirdges and Harrods in London.

Last month the company launched a White Shirt Bar in its Jermyn Street store, where shoppers can choose customized shirts. Thomas Pink plans to open similar installations in its Madison Avenue and Paris stores this year. The bar only carries shirts for men, but Heilbron said the company might add women’s styles, too.

Heilbron said many customers work in the financial markets — the brand even has a store on Wall Street that opens at 8:30 a.m. every weekday. “It would be crazy to think we’re not impacted by the market,” said Heilbron. His approach to these difficult economic times is to focus on the offerings and service. “All I can do is manage what we’re doing,” Heilbron said. “[Ensure] we have great ranges and the right stock in stores, and innovate and create.”

 

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