After nearly a decade, Esprit returns to the UK and US markets with the launch of two new flagships in London and New York as part of a comprehensive multi-year makeover.
Positioned as ‘hubs’, the new sites bring together retail and research under the brand’s Esprit Futura concept, led by new Chief Executive Officer William Pak, who took over the reins of the company on March 1st.
The London store will be a dedicated “customer experience innovation hub” and will focus on exploring unique customer engagement trends as Esprit seeks to strengthen its omnichannel retail reach, while the New York location will be focused on global creative design as a once-iconic label starts with an ambitious rebranding.
Both London and New York will have physical stores where customers can interact with the brand in a variety of ways, including personal clothing, online experiences, immersion in the Esprit universe and other lifestyle games, while the brand seeks to build its overall image to improve.
“Esprit is transforming into a truly global company, with creative minds and processes in key cities that allow consumers to connect with the brand on a multidimensional level. This allows Esprit to adapt to major challenges in fashion and the macro environment to push into the future,” said Pak. “Creating an exciting customer experience with intelligent design and a connection to the brand is an exciting way forward.”
The London location is scheduled to open before the end of 2022, and the New York location is planned for the first quarter of 2023.
The new locations follow Esprit Amsterdam’s tech and denim innovation hub tasked with testing new digital solutions, portfolio management, global operations and infrastructure, and denim research, which opened earlier this month.
As part of the Futura concept, Pak intends to bring digital, technical and design innovations together to “improve the customer experience”. The brand will also work with new designers and start-ups.
Esprit is expanding its reach to the West Coast, also opening a three-month pop-up in Los Angeles, California through the end of December. This retail-only operation coincides with the company’s e-commerce relaunch in the US and Canada, which will go live in October.
The new openings are just part of a group-wide strategy overhaul led by Pak, who stepped into the role of CEO earlier this year and undertook a complete transformation of the C-suite. This was followed by the relocation of the company headquarters from Germany to Hong Kong in 2021.
Pak is aiming for global expansion as the company tries to regain much of the retail presence it’s lost over the past decade. After withdrawing from the US in 2012, a series of closures in the UK, Europe, Australia and New Zealand followed before Esprit finally closed its remaining stores in Asia in 2020.
Known for its colorful clothing and iconic logo, the legacy label had its heyday in the ’80s and ’90s. Pak wants to capitalize on that nostalgia while expanding the Esprit brand by paring down collections and moving towards higher quality offerings that appeal to older consumers, while the gently introduced Esprit Jeans line targets Gen Zs and Alphas with lower entry prices and more casual goods.
Esprit has dipped its toes back into retail waters, experimenting with a pop-up in Hong Kong and a store in Seoul, South Korea, which opened in June.
The retailer rolled out e-commerce across Asia throughout 2022, including South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines. The approach has resulted in profitability after five years in the red for two consecutive half-year periods. with earnings of $1.6 million reported as of August 31st.