Inside British import L.K. Bennett's new Columbus Circle store.
One of Kate Middleton’s favorite brands, London based L.K. Bennett, has its sights set on building a presence in the U.S. The brand, which launched in 1990, has opened up stores in Atlanta, Houston, Chicago and Hackensack, New Jersey over the last year. Its latest store, in New York City’s Columbus Circle mall, opened last month.
“It was the right time, and the right opportunity because of the Columbus Circle space,” Tony DiMasso, US President of L.K. Bennett told us. “We’ve always had our eyes on New York.” DiMasso said the company has been looking for a New York store space for over a year. The Columbus Circle store is 2,100 square feet, one of the brands largest stores to date, with feminine décor including a powder pink backdrop and beige woodwork.
Current Spring 2012 offerings in the store include aqua suede strappy sandals, floaty chiffon dresses and candy colored clutches -- trendy, but not too trendy. Prices of the line go up to $1,000 for a coat, prices DiMasso describe as "affordable luxury." As for the brands pricing strategy in the U.S., DiMasso said prices are consistent with those in the U.K., taking into account the exchange rate, freight costs and duty.
After New York, the company plans to dive into new markets across the U.S. and open as many as ten stores over the next year. DiMasso said he has traveled throughout Florida and California scouting possible retail locations.
As for the impact that Kate Middleton has had on sales for the company, DiMasso said, “Obviously we are flattered. She has been an amazing ambassador for the brand. But we don’t disclose information about our customers."
Despite the coy response, Kate Middleton has played a key role in word-of-mouth marketing for the brand, though it has yet to be seen what kind of an impact she will have on US sales and growth. Shoe designer Stuart Weitzman told us he hasn't seen a boost because of his association with Middleton, while British import Reiss has been outspoken about the impact of the "Middleton Effect" on its bottom line. The Duchess is often spotted wearing L.K. Bennett's round-toe nude pumps or the label's wedge espadrilles.