Undeterred by Russia’s wilting economy, John Varvatos is moving into Moscow with a boutique opening in March.
The men’s wear designer will open his first boutique in the country in the Crocus City Mall in Moscow with a 3,200-square-foot shop.
Crocus City Mall was awarded the Best Retail Project of 2002 and offers an array of luxury brands. It was developed by the Crocus Group, a company operated by Russian entrepreneur Emin Agalarov and his family. It offers 200 stores, cafés and restaurants including Prada, Chanel, Miu Miu, Jimmy Choo, Tod’s, Ermenegildo Zegna, Lanvin, Céline, Loro Piana and Kenzo.
Varvatos said his brand’s “luxurious, music-inspired aesthetic” is well-suited to Moscow. “Working with Emin over the last few months has been inspiring. We share many values in life as well as our passion for music and fashion,” he added.
Agalarov, executive vice president of Crocus Group, said: “John Varvatos is one of the most prominent men’s wear brands represented in the market. I first became a fan of the John Varvatos brand as a client when I lived in America. When I moved back to Russia, I realized there was nothing similar to it in Moscow. I reached out to John, we talked and we agreed to open a boutique in Crocus City Mall with the possibility of future developments.”
The Moscow store will sell all of the company’s offerings including John Varvatos Collection, John Varvatos Star U.S.A. and Converse by John Varvatos. When the store opens, it will focus on spring sportswear pieces such as leather motorcycle jackets, suede shirt jackets, knitwear and lightweight outerwear. It will also sell tailored clothing, leather and canvas footwear, leather goods, eyewear, fragrances and jewelry. The assortment will be curated to present product for dressier occasions that also fit into the casual Russian lifestyle, the company said.
The Moscow store is the second John Varvatos in Europe; a London store opened in July 2014. It will be the 21st John Varvatos store globally.
Lion Capital owns a majority stake in the brand and recently named men’s wear veteran Mark Brashear as the new Varvatos chief executive officer to oversee the major growth initiatives it has planned for the future.
This seems an unusual time for a Western brand to move into the Russian market. The country is mired in a recession, exacerbated by declining oil prices and economic sanctions from the West. Its GDP is expected to decline 4 percent in 2015 and the Kremlin is projecting zero or near-zero growth for 2016, according to published reports. The value of the Russian currency, the ruble, has fallen more than 40 percent against the euro since June.
Brashear acknowledged that the Russian economy is not exactly robust right now, but Varvatos has a long-term view of the market. “This will be the first opportunity for us to get a read from the Russian consumer on the John Varvatos brand,” he said. “We’re looking at it as a great pilot.”
This will be only the brand’s fifth international store — in addition to London, there are stores in Toronto, Mexico City and Bangkok — and Brashear believes it will “give us a great opportunity to learn another part of the world.”
He said the Crocus shopping center has “done very well,” and attracts the right customer with its high-end mix of stores. “We know we still have to be competitive and compelling, but we believe the fundamental aesthetic of the John Varvatos brand will resonate with the Russian consumer and that bodes well for our success.”