| TOKYO, March 22
TOKYO, March 22 Given Kate Spade Saturday's bold
designs, bright colours and creative flair, it was probably only
fitting that the new lifestyle brand opened its first flagship
store in fashion-obsessed Tokyo.
After all, the sister label of Kate Spade New York began
developing the brand with Japanese consumers in mind more than
three years ago, envisaging functional designs that would strike
a chord with on-the-go urbanites and expand the original brand's
DNA into a more casual realm.
Kate Spade Saturday opened its first store in Tokyo's trendy
Harajuku district earlier this month and another in Osaka last
week, and plans to have a total of five Japan stores open by
June. Following the Japan launch, it also debuted in the United
States via an online store and is eyeing a push into other
international markets later this year.
"Because this brand's concept originated in Japan and we
really wanted to make the brand global, we felt Tokyo was the
perfect city to launch the brand," Ayako Yanagisawa, president
of Kate Spade Japan, told Reuters in an interview at the
company's offices in Harajuku.
"I think Tokyo is a very interesting city for the fashion
industry to try out a new brand. The market is mature enough to
receive, and digest, and understand new creativity. There is
also a wide age range of people who like fashion in this city,"
"It can be a real showcase for the Asian market."
Tokyo has served as an overseas launch point in recent years
for several brands, including designers Rebecca Minkoff and
Tracy Reese. Both the Rebecca Minkoff and Tracy Reese brands
showed at the Tokyo Runway fashion show Wednesday held in
conjunction with Japan Fashion Week.
Kate Spade New York, owned by Fifth & Pacific Companies Inc,
is known for the splashy colours and bold prints of its
designer handbags, clothing and accessories. It competes with
brands like Coach and Michael Kors in the attainable luxury
Kate Spade Saturday skews slightly younger, more casual, and
less expensive than the New York label.
Yanagisawa said both the Japanese and U.S. sides of the
company were involved in the development of the Saturday brand
from the onset, and the design of several products reflects
Japanese consumers' love for functionality and detail.
Its Half-Circle Bag, which goes for 19,845 yen ($210)
online, can be worn over the shoulder or around the waist, and
the strap can even be worn as a belt. Its Square Tote, at 17,325
yen ($180), has two side pockets that can be used to hold
folding umbrellas - a must-have for Japanese urban life - or
just as easily a bottle of wine to take to a party.
Japan is Kate Spade's biggest market outside the United
States and the company aims to increase the number of its
Japanese stores - including New York, Saturday and its Jack
Spade men's brand - to between 85 and 105 in 2016, from 54 in
"The Japanese retail market still has room to grow,"
Yanagisawa said, noting that so-called fashion buildings, often
built adjacent to or above train stations, were a big draw for
women in their 20s and 30s even as traditional department store
sales drop off.
Japan's young trendsetters are starting to take notice.
"Everyone has a Kate Spade iPhone case," said Kyoko Oyamada,
a 21-year-old university student in Tokyo sporting a black
leather Kate Spade handbag. "I thought they were cute so I went
to check out the bags myself and found one I wanted."