Herschel Supply is taking the plunge into U.S. retailing.
The Vancouver, Canada-based bag brand on Friday opened a 2,500-square-foot store at 138 Fifth Avenue in New York’s Flatiron District.
The brand, founded by brothers Jamie and Lyndon Cormack, operates four stores in Canada. But a retail rollout is in the cards that will bring the brand’s total fleet to a dozen or more stores in North America by the end of 2023.
“We want to build in the major epicenters in North America,” said Lyndon Cormack, managing director. And New York was the logical first step. “That’s the first place we went for a trade show in 2010 and it’s among our favorite cities in the world. It’s so inspiring to us and to open a retail store there is pretty exciting.”
The Cormack brothers collaborated with their in-house design team and lead designer Rye Johnson on the design of the store, which will include a large LED screen highlighting the latest campaign imagery in the front, vibrantly colored walls and a mix of old and new materials, including reclaimed oak tables, glass-blown Bocci lights, vintage furniture and a tile-wrapped cash wrap and dressing rooms.
A portion of the store will be devoted to Herschel’s Artist in Residence program, a rotating exhibition of works from local artists that will be showcased on a large gallery wall and in a lounge area. Above the main floor, designed with a windowed wall looking down into the store, is a 1,200-square-foot space that will be used to host community events throughout the year.
“Opening a store in New York City has been a goal of ours since we launched the brand. There’s no city in the world that celebrates people on the move like New York, from local commuters to travelers across the globe,” Cormack added.
“We’re thrilled to invite our community into the world of Herschel,” added Niko George, director of global retail. “Our goal for Flatiron, and for all Herschel stores, is to serve as more than just a backdrop for product. They will be true interactive spaces that will come to life through panels, events and giving back to the community. We want to bring the passion we have in Vancouver to New York.”
The Flatiron store will offer one of the largest selections of Herschel products in the world, from its signature backpack collection and its travel pieces to everyday essentials such as wallets and headwear. The newly launched everyday basics apparel line, Herschel Supply Uniform, will also be available.
“We’ve always been good servicing people on the move,” Cormack said. “Whether that’s your first day of work or school or for a trip around the world. Backpacks are our backbone but we’ve diversified into duffels, hipsacks, festival bags, crossbody bags, wallets and small leather goods. And beanies have been amazing or us. When you walk into the store, you will enter the world of Herschel.”
There are no plans to include any third-party brands, Cormack said.
Since the brand was founded in 2009, it has had a robust e-commerce and wholesale business, and “we don’t want to lose that,” George said. “We believe that a rising tide lifts all boats so we expect the wholesale business to benefit as we put marketing dollars into the stores. It’s additive.”
Among its largest wholesale customers are Nordstrom, Bloomingdale’s and Urban Outfitters.
Looking ahead, Cormack said the plan is to open another store in New York’s SoHo neighborhood as well as Los Angeles, California. “And we’ll continue to spread out wings in Canada with stores in Toronto, Calgary and Banff.” All of these locations are among the brand’s top e-commerce markets.
“Once the brand awareness grows, we’ll look at other tier-one cities like Chicago,” George said. “It makes the business easier to run.”
George said the goal behind the retail rollout is to raise the visibility of the brand in the U.S. “Herschel is ubiquitous in Canada,” he said, but it’s not as well known in the States.
Cormack said the reasoning behind the retail expansion is that Herschel now has the resources to pull it off. “This was a bootstrap company and we just didn’t have the money to do it,” he said. “But now’s the time.”
Herschel Supply is named after the small Canadian town where three generations of the Cormack family grew up. It has more than 10,000 retail customers worldwide in 94 countries.