Toteme brings its refined Swedish style to SoHo – WWD
NEW YORK — Totême, the Swedish contemporary fashion brand created eight years ago, has just opened its first American store in the SoHo district of Manhattan.
The 3,400-square-foot store opens Thursday at 49 Mercer Street and is housed in an 1870s cast-iron column building with tall windows and a loft-style ambiance typical of the area’s architecture. It’s presented in moderation for a gallery-worthy sense of space and shoppability, and furnished with quirky fabrics and furniture designed by Josef Frank of interior design firm Svenskt Tenn. Alongside the Totême collections is an exhibition (for display only) of Svenskt Tenn. signature pewter objects.
“SoHo is so special. We wanted to keep that feeling of space and character and we also wanted to reflect our signature codes of the Swedish brand and heritage. Everything here is designed by us or they are Swedish design classics,” said Karl Lindman, co-founder and brand manager of Totême, referring to the interior of the store.
From a fashion perspective, “We definitely have a very Scandinavian, soft and warm minimalist approach,” said Elin Kling, co-founder and creative director of Totême and wife of Lindman. “Our customers come to Totême because we have a strong design point of view. She can come to Totême and renew her wardrobe. The look is trans-seasonal. It’s about building a wardrobe over time and being able to wear styles from four or five years ago that still work, Kling said.
“It’s a utilitarian approach to dressing. It has to have a purpose,” Lindman added.
Asked about Totême’s audience, Lindman replied, “We don’t like to put it in a target group, but I would say our average client is a young professional, with an average age of 35.”
Although based in Stockholm and Swedish in design and typeface, the company was founded in New York where Lindman and Kling had arrived years before for jobs in publishing, communications and advertising. “We started the online business and wholesale, but the goal was always to have a physical space in New York one day,” Lindman said.
Of the company’s $70 million in retail sales last year, the majority is generated through e-commerce with customers around the world, particularly China, Japan, Korea and the United States, as well than Sweden and other European countries. Lindman said the business was profitable, with a profit margin of 28-29% last year. “We never shouted our name,” Lindman said. “The business grew organically, friend to friend, word of mouth. We have communities in cities that are drawn to our collections and our aesthetics.
Besides the SoHo store, there is a freestanding store and a department store boutique in Stockholm, and a store in Shanghai, where a second freestanding unit is scheduled to open in September. Wholesale accounts include Bergdorf Goodman, Saks Fifth Avenue, Nordstrom, and Kirna Zabête.
“For North America, SoHo is the first stop. We have more stores planned,” said Totême managing director Johanna Andersson. She is a former executive of McKinsey & Co. where she co-led the Scandinavian apparel, fashion and luxury goods business.
“We have a good customer base in California, so I think Los Angeles is definitely a market where we see potential,” Andersson said. “We already have a significant online business there. San Francisco is also a possibility. And we may also see another store in New York at some point.
From the Stockholm workshop, the Totême design team creates women’s ready-to-wear, shoes, bags and accessories, produced mainly in Italy, Portugal and China. For the fall, a small line of leather bags is launched, and soon the company’s first application will be launched.
“Our collections are highly edited,” Kling said. “We try to limit the number of skus. Maintaining this authenticity is very important and we want to be able to sell the full price. »
“It’s contemporary, but still with a twist,” Lindman said. “Our client is looking for styles that have always existed, but we add our twist to them. We certainly go our own way. For example, what would a perfect Totême trench look like? The trench coat has always existed, but the way we cut it becomes ‘our’ trench coat.
He said the company had found its “sweet spot” on the fashion spectrum. “She’s a young professional who loves fashion but doesn’t live for fashion. She wants advice, a sense of curation. She comes to Totême to find inspiration on how to dress for everyday life.
Although neither Lindman nor Kling had experience running a fashion business before starting Totême, Kling worked in fashion communications and publishing, and Lindman’s experience is in management. artistic and luxury brand, and he is a former design director at Interview Magazine.
“We realized that we couldn’t do everything. We had to meet people, talk to them, convince them to help us and work with us before we had a team of designers,” Lindman said. There is now a design team, led by Kling.
They decided to call their company Totême because, as Lindman said, “it conveys the idea of community, connecting people and designing with purpose.”