Har­rys of Lon­don Opens N.Y. Flag­ship

WWD Digital Daily - - News - BY JEAN E. PALMIERI

The brand up­graded since be­ing pur­chased by bil­lion­aire com­mer­cial de­vel­oper Charles Co­hen just over one year ago.

NEW YORK — Charles Co­hen is just get­ting started.

It was just over a year ago that the bil­lion­aire com­mer­cial real es­tate de­vel­oper pur­chased Har­rys of Lon­don, a U.K.based footwear and ac­ces­sories la­bel.

And to­day, Co­hen has opened the doors to the brand’s first re­tail store, a bou­tique with 770 square feet of sell­ing space on Park Av­enue and 57th Street. The store is ad­ja­cent to a space that will house a 2,000-square-foot Richard James store, the other Bri­tish men’s wear brand in which Co­hen bought a ma­jor­ity stake last March. That store is ex­pected to open in late Au­gust.

Both brands were per­sonal fa­vorites of Co­hen’s and were search­ing for new own­ers, so the de­vel­oper stepped up and pur­chased them. But he’s hardly been an ab­sen­tee owner. He serves as chair­man for both la­bels and has im­mersed him­self in rein­vent­ing the brands by mod­ern­iz­ing and up­dat­ing them.

“It’s been an ex­cit­ing ad­ven­ture,” Co­hen said. “And it’s gone bet­ter than I ever imag­ined.” In fact, he said he’s just about to fi­nal­ize his third fash­ion ac­qui­si­tion, one that will be “com­ple­men­tary” to Har­rys and Richard James. He de­clined to pro­vide more de­tails, but said this one is not a Bri­tish brand.

At Har­rys, Co­hen parted ways last Oc­to­ber with Steven Newey, chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, and brought in Richard Co­hen as an ad­viser. Richard, who has held senior po­si­tions with Ermenegildo Zegna, Saks Fifth Av­enue, Robert Tal­bott, St. John Knits and Trin­ity Ltd., has been a “big ben­e­fit” to Har­rys, Charles said. The two are not re­lated.

Both men were on hand Tues­day to su­per­vise the fin­ish­ing touches that were be­ing put on the new store. Ni­co­las Ven­dramin, chief mer­chan­diser for the brand, was also there to en­sure that the shoes, belts and hosiery were po­si­tioned prop­erly within the space.

The new store was de­signed by Chris­tian La­houde Stu­dio, a New York-based de­sign firm that has done work for Alexander Wang, Tif­fany & Co., Jimmy Choo and Gucci, among oth­ers. The de­sign was in­spired by Lon­don’s ven­er­a­ble gen­tle­men’s clubs and the ho­tels in May­fair. It fea­tures wood mold­ings, en­graved pan­els in mir­rors and tone-on-tone pan­el­ing on walls. A rose gold trim is used through­out the space to frame spe­cific ar­eas and is en­hanced by in­te­grated lights. The floors are oak smoke fumed wood in a her­ring­bone pat­tern, with an oiled fin­ish. And the space fea­tures Ital­ian gray mar­ble accents.

“We spared no ex­pense,” Charles said, with­out pro­vid­ing a fig­ure on what the con­struc­tion cost. He did say that it had been “a raw space” be­fore La­houde started work. “We’re knocked out by the de­sign aes­thetic. And we will be us­ing him in the other busi­nesses I have. It’s a great in­ter­pre­ta­tion of a brand that is now 17 years old. This is a val­i­da­tion of a brand that needs brick-and-mor­tar to es­tab­lish its im­age in Amer­ica.”

He said he ex­pects the store to at­tract a fol­low­ing in its new home, where it is lo­cated within close prox­im­ity to Caruso, Turn­bull & Asser and other lux­ury brands. “This is a very strong men’s neigh­bor­hood,” Charles said. “This area is go­ing through a real re­nais­sance and that’s great for New York and us.”

Since com­ing on board three years ago, Ven­dramin has up­graded the Har­rys col­lec­tion while re­tain­ing its rep­u­ta­tion as a con­tem­po­rary Bri­tish footwear brand en­gi­neered for comfort. He pointed to the Down­ing model as an ex­am­ple, a penny loafer that com­bines a for­mal up­per with a sporty Vi­bram sole, as well as the col­or­ful Basel col­lec­tion of moc­casins that use kudu skins and are de­signed to be worn with­out socks.

The in­soles of all of the shoes fea­ture Techno­gel, a trade­marked ma­te­rial that was cre­ated by a Ger­man com­pany and fea­tures a bio­com­pat­i­ble ma­te­rial that adapts to the foot to pro­vide cush­ion­ing and sup­port. The gel is black in the dress shoes and or­ange in the sneak­ers, he said.

“We’ve had the Down­ing and the Basel for 10 years and they haven’t aged,” Ven­dramin said. “We just took them as a base to ex­pand.”

Prices range from $295 for slip­pers and $395 for the Down­ing to $695 for boots, he said. “The prices had been higher,” Charles said, “but we wanted to make it af­ford­able lux­ury. We to­tally took it in a dif­fer­ent di­rec­tion, are more fo­cused and have a greater at­ten­tion to qual­ity.”

Right now, there are no plans to move into other cat­e­gories and Har­rys is fo­cus­ing in­stead on be­ing known as a footwear brand. “We’re plant­ing our feet first,” Charles said with a laugh.

He be­lieves Har­rys is “unique among shoe brands for men” be­cause it of­fers in­no­va­tion cou­pled with a “com­mit­ment to comfort. The shoes work for both work and play.”

He ex­pects this mis­sion state­ment to res­onate around the world. He said the com­pany is about to sign a lease for a new re­tail lo­ca­tion in May­fair in Lon­don that will open in around six months. It will re­place a store that was re­cently closed in Burlington Ar­cade. “We needed a street pres­ence near other brands that are com­ple­men­tary to what we do,” Charles said, adding: “We have a global plan, and the New York store is the launch of our global busi­ness.”

Richard said the plan is to bring Har­rys to the Mid­dle East and Far East “soon.” In fact, he en­vi­sions build­ing a brand that op­er­ates around 20 stores glob­ally. “The fu­ture is re­tail, di­rect-to-con­sumer and e-com­merce,” he said. The whole­sale model is very lim­it­ing. Even so, the brand is also car­ried in high-end in­de­pen­dent

Har­rys of Lon­don

in New York.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.