Ron Dorff already caught the attention of Puma, which invested 4 million euros into the brand through its private equity arm at the end of last year. Now the buzzy Swedish men’s wear brand is investing some of that money into opening its first U.S. store.
Ron Dorff, which was cofounded by Claus Lindorff in 2012 as a men’s swimwear brand, has since expanded into sportswear, loungewear and underwear. Its collection blends Swedish functionality with classic French style. The logo is a pair of black-lacquered eyelets, a nod to the two Os in the brand name. The brand operates five stores in Europe — two in Paris, two in London and one in Berlin — but this marks its first entry into the U.S. retail market for the label, which counts Michael Fassbender, Orlando Bloom and Alexander Skarsgård, among others, as brand ambassadors.
Lindorff said the 4,800-square-foot store at 475 Broome Street is intended to “help attack the U.S. market,” which currently accounts for 35 percent of sales, even though the brand’s presence is exclusively online at this point. In addition to its own e-commerce site, which accounts for 85 percent of sales globally, the Ron Dorff label is offered on the Equinox website in the U.S. as well as a few of its in-club shops in New York, L.A. and Miami. “That went really well,” he said of the launch at Equinox.
“Now we’re going to be focusing on wholesale, online and our own stores and it’s important that everything works together,” he added. “For us, wholesale is a great marketing tool so it’s important to get into the right places.”
The brand is carried at around 75 high-end accounts including resorts in St. Barth, Mykonos and Ibiza, where upscale Americans often vacation, further creating visibility for the brand in the U.S.
In addition to being a sales driver, Lindorff said the New York store will serve as a press showroom and a distribution center from which the brand can ship and handle returns. In the past, all orders were shipped from Paris overnight to New York or 48 hours to L.A., Ron Dorff’s two main markets in the U.S., Lindorff said.
The strength of the New York market was one of the main reasons the brand decided to open its first store there. “U.S. fans of the brand have requested a store for quite some time and as New York has become our number-one city worldwide in terms of online sales — [representing] 12 percent of global sales — opening our first U.S. flagship store here was the obvious choice.”
In fact, New York is even bigger than Paris and London, he said. The brand is sold in 90 countries around the world.
But it’s just the first of three stores the brand plans to open in America in the near term. Lindorff said the plan is to open in L.A. in April, followed by Miami in fall 2022. “We sold out completely at the Equinox in West Hollywood, so we’re going to go there,” he said. The Miami unit will most likely be in the Art District.”
He also plans to open long-term pop-ups in locations where the brand has a strong online presence such as Provincetown, Mass., Dallas and Houston, and if they do well, the brand can search out permanent spaces in those cities.
But for now, it’s New York City that is top of mind. The SoHo store is located in a space that is adjacent to the former home of Isabel Marant that has been vacant for over a year, he said. The unit was originally expected to open right after Labor Day but shipping delays caused the product to be late in arriving, causing the opening to be pushed back, Lindorff said.
The space includes wrought iron pillars in the center and tiles on the floor that are intended to speak to the location’s SoHo heritage. The store will carry the entire range of product, including the swimwear, which still accounts for 45 percent of overall sales in the U.S. Underwear has also become popular, accounting for another 45 percent. Sportswear — which includes shorts, T-shirts, sweatshirts, track pants and jackets — makes up the remainder. On Thursday, the brand will debut its first fragrance with an early-morning event in the new store.
Lindorff was working at an advertising agency in Paris and was frustrated that he couldn’t find classic sportswear like that popular from Lacoste and Champion in the ’80s. So he teamed with Jerome Touron to create Ron Dorff and used a mash-up of their last names to create the name of the brand. Touron exited the business in 2016.