Samantha Thavasa To Open 1st U.S. Store in The Big Apple

Sunday, November 5, 2006 by Wendy Lam


Here comes another one, Samantha Thavasa has won the hearts of many Japanese girls in Japan and many celebrities in Hollywood. Since 2002, Nicky Hilton have been designing handbags for Samantha Thavasa and I’m sure many of you guys seen her and Paris rockin’ the bags. Now they are set to open their 1st U.S. boutique in the Fashion Capital of the World – The Big Apple.

In Japan, Samantha Thavasa is in many fashion magazines, has some 130 homes and keeps company with the likes of Beyoncé Knowles, Nicky Hilton, Victoria Beckham, Maria Sharapova, Penélope Cruz and Tinsley Mortimer.

In America, however, Samantha Thavasa is relatively unknown. But that may soon change.

Samantha Thavasa isn’t a celebrity, socialite or designer, but an accessories firm named after no one in particular that has built up a following for its feminine styles, multiple shopping emporiums and recruitment in Asia of celebrities as promotional models and handbag designers. The brand is opening its first boutique here at 965 Madison Avenue on Nov. 11, following a party the night before. The opening is an initial step in what founder Kazumasa Terada said is his plan to grow the reputation of the label that is on target to reach sales of $125 million this year outside of its birthplace in Japan. – Jennifer Hirshlag, WWD

Read the full story after the jump…


There are ambitions to unveil additional stores in Los Angeles in 2007, Hawaii and Shanghai in 2008 and London in 2009, as well as build up its small wholesale distribution network here and in Europe. Industry sources estimate the new door alone could increase sales for the label by about $1.5 million in 2007.

“Madison Avenue in New York is the epicenter of world fashion,” said Terada, chief executive officer and president of Samantha Thavasa Japan Ltd. “Virtually every major global fashion and accessories company has a presence there.”

Terada founded Samantha Thavasa with his own funding in 1994. He came up with the name for the label because he said he loved the way the two words fit and sounded together. He launched it with one handbag collection and a store in Tokyo’s trendy Shibuya district.

Today, the firm is traded on the Tokyo Stock Exchange, being posted in December 2005 shortly after it went public on its Market of High-Growth & Emerging Stocks. It also has a three-story flagship in Tokyo at the Omotesando intersection that crowns off its 130 retail doors and includes a celebrity lounge and nine collections under the Samantha Thavasa umbrella. Those collections, all of which are manufactured in Japan, include the original Samantha Thavasa handbag line retailing from $200 to $600, Samantha Thavasa Petit Choice small leather goods and wallets that sell from $50 to $150, and Samantha Thavasa Tiara that sells jewelry priced from $300 to thousands of dollars.

There are also its celebrity collections. In 2002, Terada made a decision to approach various public figures as a means of reaching a broader consumer base, beginning with the Hilton sisters. Nicky Hilton went on to create the Nicky Hilton for Samantha Thavasa handbag line, which still retails in its stores from $200 to $500. Knowles and Cruz have also designed collections that are carried only in Japan. Terada approached Mortimer in 2005 and her Tinsley Mortimer for Samantha Thavasa collection will bow Friday.

“I had a dream awhile back to do this doggie bag line, but the timing just wasn’t right,” said Mortimer. “But then my picture kept randomly popping up in a variety of Japanese magazines and Samantha Thavasa approached me to work with them. They indicated I was a good fit for the brand, as well as a different angle in marketing their product. For my line, they pretty much gave me free reign to design what I wanted and what I consider fashionable, which was an amazing responsibility and a dream come true.”

Mortimer, who cited Fendi, Chloé, Marc Jacobs and Nancy Gonzalez among her favorite handbag designers, and Alfred Hitchcock and old James Bond movies as her inspirations, said she sought to make her own collection have high style at affordable price points. She said the bags that open at $200 and climb up to $700 are classic with custom-designed hardware, like a Tinsley Mortimer “TM” logo closure, big zipper pulls and locks that accent pockets. Materials include leathers embossed with croc patterns and satins, the latter of which is prominently featured in clutches bearing the “TM” logo in Swarovski crystals.

“I designed bags that fit well into my lifestyle and my friends’ lifestyles,” said Mortimer, who has already been carrying some styles to events around town like New York Fashion Week. “It’s been exciting to work with a company that has such incredible resources at my disposal, as well as an amazing design team, and they are great at what they do.”

Mortimer, who will appear at the party Friday along with 10 lookalikes modeling her own designs and those from the other collections, will retail her line beside five other Samantha Thavasa lines in the Madison location. Those include Samantha Thavasa, Samantha Thavasa New York, Samantha Thavasa Deluxe, Samantha Thavasa Petit Choice and Nicky Hilton for Samantha Thavasa. The lines will be merchandised side by side in the 1,250-square-foot space created by interior designer Yoshimitsu Morita that features detailing like blue and pink crystal accents on shelves and chandeliers and white marble flooring.

“From the beginning, the primary goal of Samantha Thavasa has been to offer the joy of discovering highly original and new designs, as well as reliable and excellent quality,” said Terada. “What sets our brand apart is our ability to tell various stories through a broad range of product. We don’t aim to retain one type of customer, we have customers of all ages and styles.”

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