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IKKS chief executive talks debut UK store

By Danielle Wightman-Stone


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London’s South Molton Street, just off Oxford Street, is becoming an unofficial French quarter of fashion retailing, the area already boasts contemporary brands including Maje, Sandro, Gerard Darel, Claudie Pierrot, Comptoir des Cotonniers, and Zadig and Voltaire, and now there’s a new French label making its debut, IKKS, with the opening of its first standalone store in the UK.

The French brand might not be a household name in the UK, but with its annual turnover of more than 350 million euros, and more than 750 points of sale globally, it has big plans for expansion in the UK, and IKKS chief executive officer Pierre-André Cauche talked to FashionUnited about the brand’s debut store, why London, as well as its plans for the future.

“London is a very important market as we want to expand abroad. We are strong in France, Benelux, and Spain, and two years ago we entered Germany and we are aiming to have 10 shops there. We are still discovering London’s attitude but we feel that the city is a strong place to be for fashion and international appeal,” explains Cauche.

The proximity to the other french labels, as well as South Molton Street’s intimate feel, were important for the debut IKKS location, Cauche, added: “When you are in South Molton Street it’s very intimate with smaller shops and I think it is very trendy and it’s becoming a little French district as well.

“We felt it was a good first step for us to enter London, as we are in the heart of Mayfair, close to Selfridges, Browns and Bond Street. It’s a nice first location for IKKS as it corresponds with our brand.”

IKKS debuts on South Molton Street, London

The label initially launched with a children’s line in Paris, and in 1999 it expanded to include womenswear, followed by menswear. However, the new store in London will dedicate the 540 square foot to a curated edit of its versatile womenswear collection that exudes a chic French flair, with a mixture of trend, sophistication, and quality, which Cauche stated has been designed to be “worn each day of the week”.

“When we enter a new territory we always open with the women’s collections, as it is our biggest driver,” added Cauche. “As we have quite a large collection, we’ve selected around 60 percent of the base of the collection to showcase the IKKS spirit, and I think we are showing off the right pieces for the shoppers to discover the brand.

“In Germany, we can enter with bigger shops, offering both women’s and men’s collections. Maybe the second step could be to find a bigger store to offer both the women and men’s lines, with the third step to bring the junior line.”

So can we expect a second store? “I think we will open our second UK store towards the end of the year, and I think it will once again be in London,” said Cauche. “It might be on King’s Road or Marylebone, as they remain in the same spirit of IKKS, intimate and fashionable, and possibly more affordable in terms of the rent.”

The French chief executive isn’t discounting stores outside the capital, adding that Manchester and Birmingham could make great locations, just that London audience understands the “spirit” of the contemporary label.

Wholesale also continues to be an important channel for the company, said Cauche, with the French brand looking to offer the same selective womenswear collection to around 30 to 50 wholesale partners in the UK, “no more than that” Cauche said to keep the brand credible, but he did say that it does make sense in the UK to combine standalone shops with regional outlets to increase presence. Current wholesale partners include Igloo on King’s Road and Alex and Alexa.

IKKS has stores across France, Spain, Belgium, Italy, Luxembourg, and Germany, as well as a strong international presence in China, Russia, the Middle East, and North America.

Images: courtesy of IKKS

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South Molton Street