Issey Miyake boosts European retail footprint with second London store
Issey Miyake has been busy on the retail front in Europe. The Japanese label opened a first store in Milan in October 2017, and also relocated the Zurich shop. In May, a second London store will open at 33 Brooke Street, showcasing the label’s Pleats Please, Homme Plissé and Bao Bao lines. The new store is only a hundred yards or so away from the existing one, which features the Issey Miyake men’s and women's collections.
According to Marc Forestier, Issey Miyake’s new General Manager Europe, the recent openings are a direct consequence of the robust health the label's latest lines are enjoying. Forestier was a lawyer with UK law firm Browne Jacobson, and worked with Issey Miyake and a number of French luxury labels on the UK market. He also previously worked as Sales Director of Joseph and Eskandar.
In the last few seasons, Miyake has been particularly active with its ‘thematic’ stores for the Pleats Please and Homme Plissé lines. The former recently opened its first store in Dubai, while the latter inaugurated in Tokyo its first store worldwide. “These two lines have a cross-generational appeal - with a few local variations - and are totally in synch with our contemporary lifestyle and with the demand for an increasingly sophisticated, atemporal sportswear. The Homme Plissé line is a clear example of this: its machine-washable, wrinkle-free garments are revolutionising menswear,” said Marc Forestier.
Issey Miyake is “investing more than ever on the Homme Plissé line,” and in the coming months this may well lead to the opening of more menswear stores for the label.
Marc Forestier has been based in London for some thirty years and, since he was put in charge of Europe last September, has been very busy boosting the label’s presence in the UK and Europe. “Issey Miyake is growing in terms of lines and audience, and in the next few years we intend to bolster and strengthen its presence in the whole of Europe,” said Forestier.
Italy remains the label’s top European market, ahead of Germany and France, but the UK is growing in importance, after the second London retail opening and also via a more extensive presence in multibrand and department stores - Liberty and Harrods were recently added to the long list of department stores selling Issey Miyake. Among them also Selfridges, whose new event area recently hosted a presentation of the entire Issey Miyake universe, featuring ready-to-wear, accessories and collaborations in fields as diverse as lighting fixtures, eyewear and fragrance.
Besides a widespread presence in France, with two monobrand stores and retail corners at the Galeries Lafayette and Le Printemps department stores in Paris, plus some fifteen multibrand stores outside the capital, “the label is well positioned in the UK, Italy, Germany, Switzerland and in northern Europe, and it's beginning to perform very well in Spain and Portugal,” said Forestier. Russia is another growth opportunity for Issey Miyake, which already has a presence at Moscow’s TsUM department store.
Issey Miyake put brick-and-mortar retail ahead of e-tail ever since its inception, and is working to heighten the customers’ in-store experience. “It’s the only policy in which we believe, since our products call for specialist sales support - who knows for example that we develop our own fabrics - and are worthy of a special purchasing experience.”
In recent seasons, Issey Miyake staged a plethora of events at its stores. Notably, the Milan store featured interactive installations by Japanese artist Masahiko Sato during the Italian city’s recent furniture and design week. “Our aim is different from the simple fact of furnishing our stores with designer chairs. Our idea is to make art accessible, to make it popular in the best sense of the word,” said Forestier.
In an almost discreet fashion, shying away from marketing overexposure, Issey Miyake drives its international expansion from Tokyo (the label’s headquarters, home to the design studio led by creative directors Yoshiyuki Miyamae for womenswear and Yusuke Takahashi for menswear) and from Paris, the label's other cradle, the venue of its catwalk shows and photo-shoots.
Issey Miyake currently operates 300 stores worldwide, 150 of them in its main market, Japan. The business is in good shape, and in Europe its revenue grew from €11.4 million in 2015 to €15 million in 2017 (source: Infogreffe).
Besides clothes, the label is active in fragrances, licensed eyewear and watches, the latter developed in Tokyo. “The impulse to create new products comes to the designer only for emotional or special reasons,” said Marc Forestier.
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