Kit and Ace opens Martin Place flagship
International retailers continue to snap up real estate in Sydney’s CBD, with Canadian fashion retailer, Kit and Ace, moving in next door to COS at 5 Martin Place late last week.
The 360sqm store is the brand’s seventh Australian store, which will be followed by an eighth store opening in the redeveloped Pacific Fair on the Gold Coast next month.
The Vancouver-based brand was started by the family behind LuluLemon Athletica in mid-2014, and today has nearly 60 locations across North America, Australia, the United Kingdom and Japan.
JJ Wilson, co-founder and head of brand at Kit and Ace, told Inside Retail Weekly that opening the Australian flagship is an important milestone for the brand.
“The concept of Kit and Ace was born while we were living as a family in Bondi, Sydney,” Wilson said.
“We were inspired by the easy yet constant movement of the Australian lifestyle, and decided to use our knowledge and expertise to create clothing that supported a full-contact day. We have seven other locations throughout Australia, but opening our first flagship in Sydney brings everything full-circle for us.”
The flagship is located within the heritage-listed old Commonwealth Bank building, meaning the shopfitters had a number of restrictions to adhere to. The entire shopfit is free-standing, as nothing was allowed to be permanently attached to the original structure, and the central chandelier has been designed using light fittings found in the basement of the building.
“We wanted to retain the historic architecture of the space, while making sure the space reflected Kit and Ace’s west coast aesthetic,” Wilson said.
The store is light and airy, with hints of copper and the brand’s signature blue visible throughout the space.
“We maintained the heritage floors and column details of the building, and layered in locally designed and produced furniture. The final product – a sleek interior with a large fitting area, and a signature area we call ‘the space’ that mirrors a living space of our brand muses.”
The store also features a technical atelier – a workshop for up-and-coming local designers that is part tailor shop, and part design-lab.
Educating on technical cashmere
At the heart of Kit and Ace is its product offering – technical cashmere and the concept of ‘technical luxury’, which it has had to educate Australian customers about before being in a position to sell t-shirts with a $100 price tag.
“The word ‘cashmere’ immediately makes you think of winter clothing and warm sweaters, so we had educate Australian customers about our product,” Wilson said.
“We launched a campaign to explain why our technical cashmere t-shirts were a great addition to your summer wardrobe. Technical cashmere takes the best of cashmere – its softness and lustrous quality – and adds technical attributes to create a lightweight fabric designed for movement that can take on the Australian heat.”
The Australian Kit and Ace team have also been busy engaging with local artists and creatives, hosting events such as its Supper Club dinners to establish the brand in each neighbourhood where a store opens.
“We have a great team on the ground in Australia that hosts regular events to engage our guests and build real connections, including our most recent global campaign, the Carry-on – a series of hotel pop-ups around the world,” Wilson said.
Kit and Ace hosted a pop-up at The Olsen Art Series in Melbourne earlier this month, and at The Old Clare Hotel in Sydney last week. The hotel pop-ups were designed to promote the benefits of the brand’s travel-friendly apparel.
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