Saturdays NYC hits Sydney

Saturdays NYC The Bondi Beach retail scene welcomes a newcomer who feels like an old friend – Saturdays NYC.

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US men’s fashion brand, Saturdays NYC, has opened its first Australian store at Sydney’s Bondi Beach – not surprisingly, on a Saturday.

Launched on November 21, the new flagship is the brand’s seventh store internationally. There are two in New York – including the original store in Crosby St, Soho (opened August 2009), and in the West Village, while the four others are in Japan – in Tokyo, Nagoya, Kobe and Osaka.

Described as ‘surf-inspired’, Saturdays NYC designs and produces apparel, footwear, sunglasses, bags and accessories such as wallets, so its latest location on Gould Street – very near to Australia’s most famous beach and in new development The Pacific (the former Swiss-Grand Hotel) – is a natural fit.

The Australian business is a partnership between the US-based owners of Saturdays NYC, local fashion retailer, Incu [see Inside Retail Weekly Issue 2073], and local part owner Quentin Sale.

“[Bondi] was an obvious choice, but to find good sites down there is quite difficult,” Sale told Inside Retail Weekly.

“We’d been looking for a couple of years and on Gould Street – which is the only strip that would suit the brand,” he observed. “They [the sites] tend to be a little pokey and dark, and don’t lend themselves to the Saturdays concept, which is a concept of having a retail space that is about a community vibe – a place for people to go and not only have a look at the clothing but sit and have a coffee, meet some friends, have some time out.

“That’s what they’ve done really successfully in their New York and Japan sites, so we needed to replicate that. And in order to do that we needed a site that lent itself to that, so the site that came up in the new Pacific Bondi complex ticked those boxes.”

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As well as the full range being available in Saturdays stores and online, the Saturdays collection is stocked by retailers in around 30 countries, including Colette, Mr. Porter and Barneys, and here in Australia through Incu, its main local stockist since 2006.

The set-up moved from dealing with Saturdays NYC through Incu, to Saturdays setting up a joint-venture business in Australia. The partnership took over distribution of the brand in July of this year.

“There’s been an ongoing relationship between Incu and Saturdays for many years now; we’ve been working closely with them selling Saturdays through Incu,” Sale said. “And there was a relationship even before then in that one of the co-owners of Saturdays – Morgan Collett – worked for [Swedish fashion house] Acne, so he knew Brian and Vincent [Wu, owners of Incu] from his days working there. Then, when Morgan started up Saturdays, he approached the boys, and it’s grown from there.”

A minimalist aesthetic
Having worked with Incu as well as other high-end fashion retailers such as Sasse & Bide, MJ Bale, Nudie Jeans and Strand Hatters, well-known architect/interior designer Kelvin Ho, of Akin Creative, designed the Bondi store, continuing the same minimal aesthetic established in the Manhattan and Tokyo locations.

“It’s quite minimal, just a focus on really simple, well executed materials that are still quite natural,” Ho told Inside Retail Weekly.

Wood is featured – recycled light-coloured Blackbutt flooring and Blackbutt furniture, as well as custom concrete benches, cement sheeting. Neutral colours are employed – white, grey timbers and matte black steel.

“[It] takes its cues from their other stores and the Blackbutt is a nod to Australian timbers,” Ho continued. “The colours really relate to the brand, because it came out of New York where it’s more of an urban take on surfing, so it doesn’t take on the traditional cues of surfing. It’s still really relaxed and really open with a light feel, but the materials are more modern.

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Like Saturdays NYC’s overseas stores, the Bondi shopfront was designed to be as amenable as possible and an extension of the footpath.

“They have that ‘hang-out’ component to them,” Ho said of the Saturdays NYC’s stores. “So the idea is people go to them – it’s not just a retail space, it’s a bit of a café space as well.”

Now a lifestyle brand based around living and working in downtown Manhattan with a small element of surf culture, Saturdays’ stores also aim to offer a place to unwind. They boast an espresso bar in the front, with the local chapter brewing up Surry Hills’ Artificer beans. Thus the store is open from 0700 every day (except Sunday, from 0800) for the coffee as well as surf crowd.

“It [The coffee/hang-out space] has a really nice northwest aspect, so it gets some great afternoon sun,” Sale observed.

In size, the store is 98sqm and features four-metre high ceilings with large windows looking across the road to an urban street scene of quintessential Bondi bungalows.

“It’s a feeling like you’re in something really new but you’re looking across at old-school Bondi,” Sale said. “So it is just a really nice place to sit and hang out, have a coffee or check out some clothes. There’s a small surf footprint within the store – so there’s surfboards, wetsuits and a selection of surf accessories or hardware.”

So, are more Australian stores on the drawing board?

“[We’ll] see how it goes for now,” Sale suggested. “It’s definitely on our radar, but we’ve only been trading for just over two weeks. So we’re going to assess and maybe have a look at our opportunities in 2016.”

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