What experiences are you bringing to the Harrys of London team?
I was at Berluti for two and a half years, where I was GM for the Middle East. Before that, I was at Loro Piana for 12 years. I also worked at Dunhill and was a ready-to- wear buyer at Hermès. Most of my career has been product-driven, so I understand what is needed in the market. It’s important to know what’s out there. Buyers these days know what they’re buying and exactly what their customers want. We need to be one step ahead all the time and match their needs.
What will be your biggest focus for the brand?
The main strategy is to open more wholesale accounts in the U.S. Currently, [U.S. customers] make up about 20 percent of our business, and it’s growing. The wholesale market plays a big part in the visibility of the product. We’re working with Barneys New York — we have four doors with them. We’re with Neiman Marcus and Brooks Brothers, and by fall ’15, we hope to be with Bergdorf Goodman. And online, we’ve just partnered with Mr. Porter.
What are the brand’s plans for its own stores?
We have our new concept we just rolled out with designer Christian Lahoude. It’s a library effect, where we keep all the shoes in boxes so we can show the full range. We have three freestanding stores in London, two in Kuwait and one in Dubai. The next one is opening in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia, in September. We also plan to roll out in Asia, and I’m looking aggressively in New York, Los Angeles and Miami.
Sneakers were recently added to the line. Is Harrys of London considering other casual categories?
Our sneaker has been the best-seller this season — it sold out in our London stores within the first few months. There are so many sport shoes right now. What makes us different is quality and comfort — our sole is water-resistant. We’ll have sportier styles coming out, but they’re not going to take over the whole range. By 2017, we’re also planning to launch leather goods. We are a shoe brand, and that will always be 90 percent of our business, but there’s room for men’s accessories.
How is business overall this year?
We’re definitely up from last year, even just within the past two months. The e-commerce business is doing really well. Right now, our stores are generating most of the profit, but as our wholesale revenue grows, I’m sure it could become a 50/50 split.