What was born in 2008 as a collective from New York, Los Angeles and Tokyo, has meanwhile grown into the (fashion) brand Kinfolk. Locations include the communal design studio in Brooklyn’s Williamsburg, Kinfolk 90; the culinary and cocktail nightspot in Tokyo, Kinfolk Lounge; the bar and cocktail club that has grown into a multiuse creative space, Kinfolk 94; and, of course, the The Kinfolk Store that has become one of New York City’s notable menswear boutiques. And most recently the latest coup: Kinfolk's first pop-up shop in Hong Kong & Shanghai through local department store Lane Crawford. Beyond promoting its own apparel line, Kinfolk also brought other brands and collections to the space, such as Bleu De Paname, Album, and Powers, traditionally found at The Kinfolk Store. The pop-up store will be open until April 25.
Here, Jey Perie, creative director at Kinfolk, talks about the pop-up experiment in Asia, their menswear store in NY and the comeback of Helly Hansen.
You recently took the first step for a presentation into Greater China with the opening of your pop-up at Lane Crawford. How did the collaboration come about?
Lane Crawford reached out to us through various mutual friends. They wanted to bring a lifestyle component to their retail experience and were very interested by the multi-faceted aspects of our business which includes retail, nightclub and coffee shop.
Will you turn the partnership into a permanent shop to enter the market? What expansion strategy do you have for this region?
We are pretty happy with the outcome of this collaboration, as of now we are hoping to build an ongoing relationship with Lane Crawford in order to create more installations like the one we just launched.
What is important for you in terms of the shop design and assortment for the shop-in-shop at Lane Crawford?
It was important for us to bring all the elements that make The Kinfolk Store a unique shopping experience to the shop-in-shop at Lane Crawford – such as bringing in vintage art books, artworks from both local and international artists, a Kinfolk custom made bicycle and Kinfolk coffee.
How do you try to attract the local customers?
By staying true to who we are. Lane Crawford did a great job at introducing our world to their massive audience.
You also operate a menswear store in NYC. What are the anchor brands there? Which brands have you recently added to the assortment?
We are known for our Japanese brand selection such as Bedwin & The Heartbreakers, Wacko Maria, etc.. Recently we have been doing some more interesting projects and event activations with Stone Island and You Must Create (YMC), two very important brands for us.
What are five products you couldn’t live without right now?
Sadly my phone has a big role in my day-to-day life and it’s hard to live without it in New York. I’m also pretty attached to my jewelry pieces, on a spiritual level. Other than that, I try to stay less attached to materialistic objects.
What are the bestsellers?
Anything unique, out of the ordinary and culturally relevant.
And what are the most promising newcomers this year?
Still early to say. I’m personally more excited to see what the old guard is doing this year, some of the labels that we carry in the store are starting a new chapter so there will be some interesting energy there. A Helly Hansen come back in the US would be interesting.
Which fairs do you visit? Or do you only order at showrooms? Where do you inform yourself about trends?
Both. We have a good relationship with M-5 showroom in NY. MAN is my favorite show currently. Capsule and Liberty are always solid.
Did your shop’s sales increase or decrease over last year? To what do you attribute your gain or loss in sales?
It increased. We are managing our buying better I would say and our neighborhood is transitioning slowly into an alternative shopping destination.
What’s your typical customer?
Brooklyn local, European or Japanese tourist, professionals from all over the country traveling to BK or staying at the hotels near by.
What do you love about the customers and your hood?
Diversity (income, race, generation), always. It’s what makes New York such a special place.
Is there a kind of model shop for you? Some shop (worldwide), which inspires you?
Too many to list here. I would say we are very inspired by the Japanese way of merchandising but we like to keep an edge to our approach to fashion and culture in general.
What is the biggest challenge for retailing right now?
Always staying ahead of the trends and relevant to our customers worldwide.