It's been a busy year for French fur brand Yves Salomon. In addition to reopening a 1,300-square-foot shop-in-shop at Harrods in July and a new location in Casablanca in September, the brand has finally found a home on Madison Avenue in New York City. The 800-square-foot boutique between 66th and 67th Streets opened at the beginning of December and has been two years in the making, said Thomas Salomon — whose Russian great-grandfather started selling fur before emigrating to Paris in 1920, and whose father Yves is currently president of the brand.
During a walk through of the store last week, Salomon explained that the brand is choosing where to expand based on where it already has a strong wholesale business, as it does in New York at Saks Fifth Avenue, Bergdorf Goodman and Barneys. The label opened its first American boutique in Aspen in 2011. "I would say, for the products we do, there's not a lot of competition," said Salomon, adding that there are no plans to decrease the size of wholesale accounts because of the new store. "[In Paris] we have three stores and we never had any problems from overlapping one business to another. But we really wanted to open the store [in New York] because of the fact that a lot of people in the States know the brand through the parka."
Yves Salomon's fur-lined and trimmed cotton canvas army parka was introduced six years ago, and has been the brand's best seller in the U.S. for the past three years. Spotted on everyone from Alexa Chung to ASAP Rocky, it comes in many variations including one with a multicolored interior that has already sold out at the new Madison Avenue location. "It's water repellent... and it's sporty," said Salomon. "So basically it's a new way to wear fur. It's cool and chic and at the same time, it's trendy and relaxed."
Prices for the parka range from around $1,600 to $4,000 for women. This is certainly an investment for some, but in the world of fur where a single piece could easily cost between $20,000 and $50,000, it's a more accessible price range that the brand is experimenting with beyond parkas. "When you do a collection, you have to think about something that you'll be able to wear for a long period, even though in the we do a lot of pieces that you can just wear for the season, like the $2,000 pieces," said Salomon. He pointed out a bright pink style displayed prominently in the store. "That coat is not that expensive, it's around $6,000, so it's not $20,000 and pink," he said. "[At] $6,000, $5,000, $4,000, I think we can play around with the color and the shape and make it really fun. And the parka is the same."
Salomon said that by combining different furs with different kinds of fabrics, like cashmere and knits, the brand can produce fur coats at a lower price. "And those are also super-popular because people here, they only think of the fur as an investment and we try to twist this."
Yves Salomon's new store isn't just a way to advertise the breadth of its collections — men's, women's and children's, which launched in fall 2014. It also gives the brand more flexibility when the weather is unseasonably warm, as it has been this year. "[The weather] is going to affect my business next year for sure, 100 percent... it's going to affect the wholesale business," said Salomon. "Everyone has a lot of stock and this period of time in January, everyone was sold out and they were crying for stock. That's why they bought so much." Salomon recalled a similarly warm winter four years ago, and said the cold winters since were great for business. "Maybe in January it's going to be so cold and everyone is going to start to really sell, and [department stores] are going to sell on sale and the margin is not going to be good."
But without the same amount of pressure to move stock because of incoming spring collections, Salomon can adapt more creatively to a 60-degree December. "For the store, I need to do a certain number so whatever I need to do, I need to do. If it's warm, not warm, we have to play around." Suddenly a fur vest is looking a lot more sensible.