From Russia With Style
Kira Plastinina, the 16-year-old Russian fashion designer and retail phenom, has dropped anchor in the United States, opening a 3,500-sq.-ft. flagship in Manhattan’s SoHo area. It’s one of 15 U.S. stores the brand expects to open by yearend. Additional locations include Stamford Town Center, Stamford, Conn., and The Beverly Center, Los Angeles. Two more Manhattan stores are in the works, including a prime spot on Fifth Avenue.
“Kira Plastinina has become a must-have teen brand in Russia, and I believe these highly visible retail locations will help us secure a similar position within the U.S. teen market,” said Bob Higgins. The industry veteran, who held management positions at The Wet Seal and Tommy Hilfiger, is serving as president of the company in America, where it operates as KP Fashion Co.
Featuring a mix of trendy apparel and fashion accessories, Kira Plastinina is targeted at style-conscious teens and fashionistas of all ages. The look is fun, spirited and girly-feminine, with a young, Euro-chic sensibility. Price points average about $48.
With its girlish but bold accents and iconic elements, the store is very much in keeping with the personality of the young Plastinina and the fashions on display.
“The store design is irreverent, bold and, ultimately, very pretty, which is really an extension of her approach to fashion,” said Ken Nisch, chairman, JGA. “The clothes are feminine and girly in some respects, but not timid, and everything is very graphic, with unexpected combinations of materials. We tried to bring that same sensibility to the store.”
The space has a young, modern look. Contemporary elements, such as a zebra-striped carpet and plasma screens, are mixed with ones that subtly reference Plastinina’s Russian roots.
“It speaks to the Russian taste for sparkle, opulence and grandness, to Russia’s imperial heritage,” Nisch explained. “For example, the frames of the fitting-room mirrors are backlit and gilded.”
The sense of opulence also is conveyed through the use of over-scale furniture pieces, glass finials on the fixtures, high base molding and overscale wallpaper.
The store is organized around collections (five), which change multiple times through the year. Each collection offers multiple mix-and-match possibilities.
“It’s a series of shops, with curved wall elements used to divide the different collections,” Nisch said.
Signature features include a pink palette, which is evident throughout the space, from the hot-pink walls and carpet to the occasional pink mannequin form. Another signature component: a pink-vinyl, round seating element, called the “poof.”
“It was inspired by candy, which Kira loves,” Nisch said.
The young designer’s sweet tooth is such that all 15 stores opening this year will feature a small Dylan’s Candy Bar outpost. Similar to the SoHo store, the candy offerings will be showcased in a floor-to-ceiling display with bright-pink shelving.
Patterns, inspired by imperial and traditional prints, figure prominently throughout the space and are often applied in unexpected ways. Contrasts and a sense of the unexpected also characterize the space. An all-white photo booth (the images can be uploaded to a Web site), for instance, features hot-pink velvet walls on the interior.
The glossy nature of the highly reflective floor is contrasted by the more matte and subtle finishes on the tables and surface counters.
The fixtures are modern and streamlined, and designed for maximum flexibility. The system features a polished stainless-steel finish on metal with a high-gloss painted base.
“Everything is bright chrome, which has more of a modern Euro feel to it,” Nisch said. “It’s more of a younger sensibility.”
The cashwrap is a traditionally shaped form with motifs that add a bit of whimsy through internal illumination. Representative aspects of the wallpaper pattern are reversed out in laser-cut panels behind the cashwrap.
The fitting rooms are not only larger than a standard apparel store but grander, as well, with gilded mirrors and seating benches. Special lighting ensures that shoppers look their best.
“The mirrors are rear-illuminated to give a nice wash, with a supplemental overhead lighting,” said Kathi McWilliams, creative director, JGA. “The edge lighting takes the shadows out.”
While a few elements of the SoHo store are site-specific, such as a column clad in mirrors, and will not be replicated in Kira Plastinina mall locations, the overall look will remain the same. Going forward, the company plans to expand aggressively.
“Their ultimate goal is to be a meaningful player in North America,” Nisch said.