It’s a balancing act and a heavy responsibility resting on the shoulders of 26-year-old Nicolas Bijan.
It’s his family’s name on the building and a legacy left in place by his late father, Bijan Pakzad, which created a boutique business that’s worked with some of the most powerful players across industries including Prince Charles, Carlos Slim, Giorgio Armani and Tom Ford.
The upscale men’s retailer, which sells everything from custom men’s suits to diamond-encrusted watches and has car collaborations with Bugatti and Rolls-Royce, now aims to evolve the business in a way that resonates with a new generation of clients.
The company recently unveiled an outpost at the Waldorf Astoria in Beverly Hills and is set to open a store at the Wynn in Las Vegas next year. The younger Bijan also has his eye on international growth, but tempers those aspirations with not wanting to expand too quickly. If all goes according to plan, Bijan estimates that by the time the business gets to five doors, it will be generating $250 million in revenue at a valuation of $1 billion.
It’s ambitious but when the selling floor includes $1,200 jackets and limited-edition handbags (a category Bijan only recently got into) starting at $65,000, the numbers don’t seem off.
What’s pushing this isn’t so much about a new generation taking the reins as much as it is a response to the general trajectory of the business. Bijan reported the company is selling roughly double what it was seven years ago when his father was still alive, which has “allowed our brand to become more of a brand and less of a boutique,” he said.
Bijan’s father, who died in 2011, opened the Beverly Hills store on Rodeo Drive in 1976 and later went on to create a men’s perfume in a crystal bottle designed by Baccarat, opened a Fifth Avenue store in 1982 and teamed for design collaborations with Bugatti Veyron and Rolls-Royce Motor Cars. The business now counts 30 employees in Beverly Hills operating out of two offices in the city and another 25 workers in Italy, where the company owns a Tuscan factory.
“As we strategize on how to grow the company, we are in a very fortunate position because of the hard work that my father spent in the last 40 years building the company and we have seen a tremendous rise in not only sales but in brand recognition globally and I think there’s a lot of potential there,” Bijan said.
The 500-square-foot Waldorf Astoria space, which Bijan termed a showcase boutique, will be just that: aimed at presenting the best of the brand to travelers and exposing it to those who may not have necessarily walked into its pale yellow building on Rodeo (which sold for a record $19,405 a square foot last year to LVMH Moët Hennessy Louis Vuitton Inc.).
Unlike Rodeo, the Waldorf location will not be by appointment only, a factor that perhaps has at times proven a barrier to entry for some prospective clients, Bijan noted.
“I think that has been very intimating to a lot of people for 40 years,” he said. “A lot of people have been turned off by that. We are not by appointment in order to be snobby. We are by appointment to offer a very special experience in our boutique. You have to imagine in 1976, when my father opened a boutique on Rodeo Drive, people thought, and I’m sure still today, he’s crazy. This is one of the most famous shopping destinations and you’re going to build this huge boutique. You’re going to make the most expensive boutique, but you’re not allowed to come in.”
Clothing doesn’t hang on racks. Pieces are displayed by color and fresh floral displays are just one part of the brand’s signature in-store experience.
“Clothing, for example, must be presented in a very delicate manner like a piece of jewelry almost,” Bijan said. “It’s never on sale. It’s never thrown on a table. It’s always treated like a $1,200 jacket should be. These philosophies of exclusivity and attention to detail are things that coincide with by-appointment only. It’s a different business model, but as we move into a time where people are so used to buying things online, so used to buying things in a department store or going into a store where it’s so uniform, this by-appointment experience and shopping experience that we are providing here [in Beverly Hills] or in Las Vegas or even on a smaller scale in the Waldorf, are filling a void in the market.”
Wynn in Las Vegas will be a full size store at 2,500 square feet , boasting a chandelier made of more than 1,000 perfume bottles. Outside of the U.S., Hong Kong, London or Dubai are markets that present opportunities. However, Bijan sees overseas growth and an overall store count that grows to roughly five locations happening across the next five to 10 years.
A year or two after Vegas bows is when the company would explore opening on Bond Street in London or consider reopening in New York, Bijan said.
“I was very lucky to have a mentor and a father who was such an amazing teacher and visionary,” he said. “It’s very important that we don’t compromise the things that made us successful, so the timeline [for growth] is very important because we don’t want to all of a sudden overexpand.”
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