Versus Versace Quietly Enters the American Market with a New York City Flagship

Its first U.S. location opened without fanfare during London Fashion Week.
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Maria Bobila
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Its first U.S. location opened without fanfare during London Fashion Week.
The women's section of Versus Versace in New York City. Photo: Versus Versace

The women's section of Versus Versace in New York City. Photo: Versus Versace

On Saturday during London Fashion Week, Versus Versace presented its spring 2016 collection by Anthony Vaccarello — his second as the official creative director of the brand. At the same time, in New York City's Soho, customers and passersby watched the fashion show from the Italian label's first U.S. flagship store. The special event was live-streamed on flat-screen televisions among two-way mirrors and brass hardware, a design concept by Donatella Versace in collaboration with the English architecture firm Carmody & Groarke. Promptly after the runway show, select looks from that same collection were available for purchase on the sales floor.

For a brand known for sex appeal and unabashed glamour, Versus Versace is stealthily introducing brick-and-mortar locations in America. (The Italian label plans to open a second location in downtown Los Angeles next year.) Aside from the runway show viewing, there was no pre-planned, press-heavy party to celebrate Versus's New York City location, which officially opened last week. In fact, it's been a somewhat quiet reveal for the flagship, as opposed to the runway show-turned-after-party that took place in London. This immediacy comes from Versus Versace's main pillar as a digital brand to reflect the always-connected lifestyle of its prospective clients.

Versus already has a solid customer base overseas, boasting 22 stores worldwide, including a two-story location in Tokyo and recent openings in both Paris and London. In America, however, the clientele regularly associates Versus with Versace, which is technically true — but not entirely. And don't even think about calling Versus a diffusion line. Take it from Donatella, who said in an email to Fashionista: "Versus Versace is not a second line, it's a very separate brand with its own identity and attitude. It has its own language, its own look and its own global community. Versus Versace is about rebellion, individuality, defiance and free thinking." (The price point is also significantly lower.) With a freestanding, stateside store, Versus will be able to drive that message further while developing a voice in the retail market as well. Appealing collections by an emerging talent like Vaccarello will surely help, too.

In addition to educating consumers, Versus's growth in the U.S. is also a result of Versace's minority investment from Blackstone last year. Since then, the label has developed with a Donatella-approved creative director, a digital-first business model and a more-than-doubled revenue from 2014. (According to WWD, Versace CEO Gian Giacomo Ferraris expects sales to double again this year.) With Versus's success so far, the Italian fashion house is gaining steady traction towards an IPO in the coming years.