HONG KONG — Shirt specialist PYE is planning to open its first store in New York next fall as it plots further expansion in its home market of Asia.
“I think it’s important to go where your customer is so New York makes perfect sense,” said Dee Poon, chief brand officer for the Hong Kong-based brand, who added that the brand is still looking at real estate options. “It’s a place with a lot of traffic not just locally but also from Asia and internationally.”
Poon said she is also eying the Asian marketplace and will expand the brand’s retail presence by setting up pop-up shops across the continent starting next spring.
PYE was founded in 1984 by Poon’s mother Marjorie Yang, chairman of manufacturing giant Esquel Group, which produces shirts for the likes of Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger and Hugo Boss. Poon re-launched the brand in 2012 opening a flagship in Hong Kong’s upscale Pacific Place mall and stores in Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou and Urumqi. She declined to give sales figures for the brand.
Since its inception, Mainland China has been one of the brand’s main markets. To broaden its reach in the
Greater China region, PYE is building an e-commerce site in English as well as simplified and traditional Chinese due to be launched in the first quarter of next year.
“Historically, one of the reasons we didn’t look at China was because the people who were really driving e-commerce at that time were much younger and not hitting our price point,” she said. “Now the growth [across various demographics] is huge and as you can see with Alibaba, it’s a market that everybody wants to tap into.”
This month the brand has opened a pair of new stores adjacent to The Landmark in Hong Kong’s Central district. Designed by New York-based architecture firm Leong Leong, one unit carries formal men’s wear and marks the brand’s first street-front outlet in the city. Located around the corner, the second store carries the brand’s casual men’s wear line, women’s wear, loungewear and ancillary products.
“We put the dress shirts in the front because this is the primary part of PYE,” said Poon. “The lifestyle concept is behind it as that’s the more experimental side.”
Supported by Esquel’s supply chain and knowledge base, the brand has achieved success with men’s wear staples such as the classic white shirt and is now turning its attention to re-launching women’s wear and expanding its loungewear offerings.
When the brand first launched in the Eighties, it had a 50-50 split between men’s and women’s. But Poon said the company cut back on its women’s offering two years ago and she is rethinking its approach.
“I do not like to deliver product that does not live up to the standard I want it to be,” Poon said. “Today we run a brand that should not create product that doesn’t align with what we want to say.”
Deliberately concise, the new women’s wear collection features 10 items ranging from a mandarin collar shirt to a sportswear inspired coat. “I believe this is the base which we will go from. It will never be a gigantic collection—it’s about creating a very focused line of very wearable clothes,” said Poon who describes her ideal customers as busy professionals who want to look stylish without having to “really engage with fashion on a day-to-day basis.”
Prices run from 980 Hong Kong dollars, or $126, to 2,880 Hong Kong dollars, or $371, and sales have been solid since it launched, according to Poon.
Responding to the vogue for loungewear, PYE, which previously only made pajamas, has now added a small line of high-quality cotton knit pieces including sweats in slim and wide-legged silhouettes. They range in price from 880 Hong Kong dollars, or $114, to 1,280 Hong Kong dollars, or $165.
“There is something to be said about really comfortable clothes at this price point,” she said. “Your options in this category are usually either hyper luxury or mass.”
Going forward, however, Poon said she plans to incorporate more fashion sensibility into the women’s wear and the casual men’s wear. Collaborations with other designers are also in the pipeline, she added. “This is really just the first step in the journey,” she said.