Japanese denim brand Evisu has been something of a cult hit for years.
Address 2 Newburgh Street, London W1F
Opened October 26, 2012
Brand foundation and base 1991, Osaka
The sight of someone sporting a pair of the signature baggy jeans with the distinctive squiggle across the back pocket was a sign that this person understood what fashion was all about. And being a Japanese denim brand, as soon as the words ‘Japan’ and ‘denim’ are put in close proximity, the inference is of a high-quality product, with a correspondingly ambitious price.
Until recently, the only standalone Evisu store in Europe was a small unit in the Boxpark pop-up mall in London’s Shoreditch. Glance at the website and this is still the only one listed, but now there is another, in central London.
The new store has been open for a couple of weeks, and although it is on Newburgh Street, a road rather less travelled than the parallel Carnaby Street, its offer was being thoroughly combed over on the day of Drapers’ visit.
01 - VISUAL MERCHANDISING
Think Japanese, and some form of minimalism usually springs to mind. It is therefore a mild surprise to find that the previously black exterior of this shop has been painted a pillarbox red and a caricature face has been applied to the glass as a gold decal. Glance through the window, and this is indeed an exercise in making a relatively spare interior worth giving more than the usual once-over. Displays are ranged around the perimeter, with jeans and the store’s other commodity – T-shirts – folded and housed in plain wooden pigeonholes. The rest of the interior is about propping, with vintage sewing machines, lanterns and a leather-bound visitors’ book adding to the considered ambience.
02 - CONCEPT
ar in the form of framed Japanese art and ephemera. The store has three distinct areas – the space just inside the door, a lower area at the back and a smaller room that is almost a discrete entity. Walls are white, apart from the small room lined with red wallpaper. Simple and uncluttered, the interior leaves the shopper free to contemplate the offer without having to worry about navigation.
03 - SERVICE
A young Japanese man, modishly kitted out from head to foot in Evisu, was on hand immediately. Apologising for his use of English, he then proceeded to give a very clear account of the merchandise and how the shop was still being fine-tuned. From time to time, he darted away to see to the stream of potential Evisu shoppers entering the store. Helpful and well informed in equal measure, you felt his enthusiasm for the product as well as a desire not to be too pushy when it came to selling.
04 - PRODUCT
Evisu is best known for its baggy jeans, and these were in evidence throughout the store. With prices starting at £130 and heading up to £300, this is investment dressing for the well-heeled denim shopper. Pride of place in the range goes to the curiously named Daicock jean (“Dai” means big in Japanese, apparently) range, which takes the Evisu squiggle and continues it down the length of each leg. T-shirts start at £50 and finish at £81. These are nice enough, but do seem expensive, even for die-hard devotees.
05 - COMPETITION
The area around Carnaby Street is probably the most fiercely competitive in London for jeans sellers. This is an area where there is a brand for every taste and even for those without much taste, and where success or failure is a straightforward matter of brand equity. Evisu certainly has its niche – all you have to do is head down Hoxton way and the back pocket squiggle is one of the hallmarks of the area’s design-led mob. Which means that as this is the first time Evisu has opened a central London store, it should be assured of its place in the denim pantheon.
06 - VERDICT - Here for the long(er) term
Evisu has been around for ages, but in Europe only through the medium of other retailers’ stores. Now it has two outlets on the continent, and both are in London. It remains to be seen whether the modest Boxpark store will remain when the mall’s five-year tenure comes up for renewal. The larger Newburgh Street flagship seems likely to stay the course, however, even if it is in an area where new brands seem to appear on an almost daily basis. The combination of distinctive styling and a good-looking shop should prove a winner.