Plein Sport opens its first U.S. store in Soho
Doing things in a small way is not in Philipp Plein's nature. Thus, when the founder and creative director, who calls Lugano, Cannes, Los Angeles, and New York home, arrived in Manhattan to celebrate the opening of the first Plein Sport store (2.0 version), he pre-gamed with a swanky cocktail party at his Upper East Side manse the night before. The juxtaposition of the uptown and downtown events was a fitting picture for the exuberant entrepreneur whose brands have been making serious inroads to categories Plein sees untapped such as highly designed yet moderately priced activewear.
"If you want to wear fashion brands, you have hundreds of options, but if you want to meet me at the gym to work out, there are only a few options. So, I must bring a new option. I am disruptive. I like to disrupt markets; first in watches, now sports which is my next big thing: to change the environment of active sportswear," Plein said in a pre-party interview with FashionNetwork.com. Sounding much like a huckster, he said, "Put on your tigers and run to Soho to get your new gear." Tigers are the name of the collection sneakers, which bear a tiger face inset in the sole. He is also eager to point out that it's a vegan line.
This isn't the first time Plein delved into activewear. Plein Sport initially launched in 2016 with a price point closer to the Philipp Plein collection. For example, sneakers in this new line will retail at approximately $150 versus $1000 for main collection kicks. The new initiative is dubbed 'The Re-Evolution' of Plein Sport.
His distribution will also drastically shift. The Soho location is considered a makeshift location to draw attention to the brand. It was gussied up with clever paint jobs, some graffiti art, and futuristic portable display fixtures by design.
"This Soho store is truly a pop-up. We don't have an architect, just clever use of paint, and we don't want to scare them off because they think it's too expensive," he said of the space geared towards an urban rap hip-hop aesthetic. His continued exploration of the convergence of tech and fashion is seen on the boxes, which include a rechargeable screen showing a commercial film and an automated restocking system planned for future locations. Plein has signed a 10-year lease on the space and predicts he will use it for a flagship store in the future.
While this location is a marquee spot, the additional Plein Sport stores planned will be offered in commercial retail space, aka malls. Next month he will open in Beverly Hills, Madrid, with places such as Rome, Bergamo, Arezzo, Nice, and Poland up next. The worldwide rollout is 300 locations planned over 36 months.
"We want places with high foot traffic. Small locations with about 1000 to 1200 square feet, and half of that is the stockroom. It will be a tight product edit, with limited SKUs of unisex styles. We pay less rent in these places, so it's affordable, and we also save on headcount in a small space," he continued.
He celebrated the standing-room-only night with a performance by rap hip hop legend Jadakiss who another guest referred to as a 'New York legend'—a moniker Plein is aiming towards with this latest project.
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