The 9-year-old label, which is based in China, moved into its 2,500-sq.-ft. space in Manhattan at the end of July. (Highline United, which was handling the brand’s sales and showroom is no longer working with United Nude.)
“One of the main reasons we [opened our own showroom] is that our collections are getting bigger,” said United Nude co-founder and creative director Rem D. Koolhaas. “Our brand is becoming more mature and it has a clear-cut identity. We always knew that [wholesale customers] would need to see it in its own space.”
He added that United Nude, which already has a New York flagship store in Soho, is also growing its product mix. The label is adding two new lines for spring — United Nude Hybrid and United Nude Ultra. Hybrid combines molded parts with more-traditional footwear materials such as leather, offering an entry-level price point of $110. “You get a very comfortable, affordable and durable kind of shoemaking,” Koolhaas said. “It’s engineered to be a durable product.”
Koolhaas and his team are also focusing on pop-up shops and shop-in-shops for the remainder of 2012. “We have been very successful with shop-in-shops in other places [including Selfridges in London, Galeries Lafayette in Paris and other department stores in Japan], so we think it would work here,” the creative director said. “We are a content-driven brand, so we can do special displays tailor-made for shops. One of the things that [brick-and-mortar] retailers can do that online retailers can’t do is create [an in-person] experience, and that is becoming more and more popular.”
Koolhaas said he is optimistic about United Nude’s prospects in the U.S. “Certain markets are suffering more than others, of course, but in America we are definitely growing,” he said. “There’s a lot of potential for us here. We’re not so big in America at the moment, so there’s a huge opportunity to grow. Ten years ago we were quite an extreme brand for the U.S., but the world has changed a lot and now we are actually fitting in quite well.”
The brand also is adding to its permanent branded store count, as well as gearing up for its 10th anniversary next year. Anniversary projects in the works include producing the label’s iconic Mobius style in 10 new colors for spring ’13, orchestrating a traveling United Nude exhibition and creating a companion iPad publication detailing the company’s history.