A three-building Fred Segal center opened its doors in Tokyo's Daikanyama neighborhood Friday, marking the first international outpost for a retail brand nearly synonymous with California cool, and the most ambitious effort to expand the Fred Segal footprint since worldwide rights to the name were purchased in May 2012 by Sandow, a New York City-based media company.
On Monday, Fred Segal Chief Executive Paul Blum, en route from New York City to Tokyo for the center's opening, used a Los Angeles layover to meet with fashion industry press to share details about the project, which he described as a long, thin cluster of buildings built atop a shuttered rail line.
"It's like this island in the middle of Tokyo that's very international," Blum said. "It's eerily similar to L.A. in terms of the lifestyle, there are a lot of media people, international people, people who are running large international fashion companies."
While Fred Segal Daikanyama may be catering to a similar demographic, Blum said customers shouldn't expect a cookie-cutter retail experience that simply clones the existing Melrose or Santa Monica centers (which were not part of the Sandow deal).
"We did a lot of things that would be in Fred Segal L.A. and we did some things that are very Japanese-specific," he said. "We're kind of blending a Japanese aesthetic with an American one. It's very different from what's [at the SLS hotel] in Las Vegas, and very different than what you see in L.A. What I've learned nine months in, is that Fred Segal is not a chain. It's not something that's ever going to be the same wherever it is. It doesn't work. ... It has to be relevant for the people who live there. It's a neighborhood store, it's not a global international chain."
Clad in vertical cedar slats, the center's three buildings are part of a pedestrian shopping complex called Log Road, anchored on one end by a Tartine Bakery and by a Kirin Beer Hall on the other. The building closest to Tartine houses Fred Segal Man with a brand list at launch that includes Levi's, Vans and Adidas as well as Todd Snyder, Simon Miller and Haider Ackermann.
The center building is home to Fred Segal Woman with a merchandise mix at opening that includes Frame Denim, Isabel Marant Etoile, Proenza Schouler and Lanvin. Blum said the second floor of this building will also be home to a treatment salon though he declined to specify exactly what kind of treatments would be offered, noting that the permit process hadn't yet been finalized.
The center will offer some merchandise exclusives, collaborations with brands such as Oliver Peoples, Toms, Moleskine and Trickers, many of which incorporated the red, white and blue color scheme of the original Fred Segal signage. It will also sell a range of Fred Segal branded souvenir products, including coffee, tote bags, candy jars and coffee mugs.
The third building is the Mart at Fred Segal, which Blum described as a "mini food hall" that will cycle through different food concepts and vendors (with a heavy emphasis on U.S. West Coast cuisine) in much the same way the merchandise mix is constantly adjusted at the other two stores. "We're starting with Blue Star Donuts out of Portland [Ore.], which is our first kind of showcase food. We think the Japanese are going to go crazy for it -- Blue Star is one of the hottest and most interesting donut [makers] in the world."
And, in a nod to L.A.'s food truck scene, an antique Citroen has been converted into a red and white Fred Segal food truck that will be parked in front of the Mart.
There's another nod to Fred Segal's L.A. origins that has taken root -- literally -- at Fred Segal Daikanyama. "Yes, there's a wall covered with ivy," Blum said. "We actually planted it seven or eight months ago."
Fred Segal Daikanyama, 13 Daikanyama, Shibuya-ku, Tokyo.