After nearly a decade away, Esprit will return to the U.K. and U.S. markets with the launch of two new flagships in London and New York as part of a massive multiyear makeover.
Positioned as “hubs,” the new locations combine both retail and research under the brand’s Esprit Futura concept, spearheaded by new chief executive officer William Pak, who took the reins of the company March 1.
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The London store will be a dedicated “customer experience innovation hub,” and will focus on studying unique customer engagement trends as Esprit seeks to strengthen its omnichannel retail reach, while the New York location will be geared to global creative design as the once-iconic label embarks on an ambitious rebrand.
Both London and New York will have physical stores where customers can interact with the brand in various ways, including in-person apparel, online experiences, immersion into the Esprit universe and other lifestyle plays as the brand seeks to improve its overall image.
“Esprit is in the process of transforming into a truly global company with the creative minds and processes in key cities enabling consumers to be connected to the brand on a multidimensional level. This enables Esprit to adapt to major challenges in fashion and the macro environment in order to propel into the future,” Pak said. “Creating an exciting customer experience with smart design and a connection to the brand is an exciting path forward.”
The London location is scheduled to open before the end of 2022, and the New York location is slated for first quarter 2023.
The new locations follow an Esprit Amsterdam tech and denim innovation hub, tasked with looking at new digital solutions, portfolio management, global operations and infrastructure as well as denim research, which opened earlier this month.
Under the Futura concept, Pak intends to bring digital, tech and design innovation together to “enhance customer experience.” The brand will also collaborate with new designers and start-ups.
Extending its reach to the West Coast, Esprit will also open a three-month pop-up in Los Angeles, California, through the end of December. That purely retail play coincides with the relaunch of the company’s e-commerce in the U.S. and Canada, which will go live in October.
The openings are just one part of a group-wide strategy overhaul spearheaded by Pak, who stepped into the CEO role and engineered an entire C-suite revamp earlier this year. That followed the relocation of the company’s headquarters from Germany to Hong Kong in 2021.
Pak is eyeing global expansion as the company seeks to regain much of the retail footprint it lost over the last decade. After pulling out of the U.S. in 2012, a succession of closures followed in the U.K., Europe, Australia and New Zealand, before Esprit eventually shuttered its remaining stores in Asia in 2020.
The legacy label, known for its colorful clothing and emblematic logo, had its heyday in the ’80s and ’90s. Pak wants to tap into that nostalgia while upscaling the Esprit brand by reducing collections and banking on higher-quality offerings that appeal to older consumers, while the soft-launched Esprit Jeans line is aimed at Gen Zs and Alphas with lower price entry points and more casual wares.
Esprit has been dipping its toes back into the retail waters, experimenting with a pop-up in Hong Kong and a store in Seoul, South Korea, which opened in June.
The retailer has rolled out e-commerce across Asia, including South Korea, Hong Kong, Taiwan, Singapore, Thailand and the Philippines, throughout 2022. The approach has resulted in profitability for two consecutive half-yearly periods after five years in the red, with profits of $1.6 million in results reported Aug. 31.