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July 29 2014

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Reiss, On The Rise

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The first U.S. Reiss shop opened in Soho in 2005, so it probably comes as a surprise to most statesiders that the London-based chain is celebrating its 40th anniversary this year. It’s turning out to be a very happy birthday for the brand: As well as continuing its expansion in the United States, Reiss recently opened its first stores in Russia, is set to launch an e-commerce site and its first major ad campaign, and will debut a Reiss shop-in-shop at the Bloomingdale’s flagship on 59th Street later this year. And then there’s Kate. Princess-to-be Kate Middleton has emerged as the accidental face of Reiss, making regular appearances in pieces by the brand. (The Reiss dress she famously wore in her official engagement photo, left, was shipped back into stores worldwide, and quickly sold out.)

“It started out as a menswear store,” founder David Reiss explained as he prepared to hop a plane to New York for this evening’s birthday reception. “My father had a very traditional menswear shop in London, that did tailoring and so on, and when he passed away in 1971 I took over the space.” First came manufactured menswear, then womenswear in the late nineties, eventually leading to the British Retailer of the Year trophy at the British Style Awards in 2003. More developments are on the horizon—a perfume, coming this autumn, and the introduction of a more luxurious line of “anniversary edition” limited pieces—but the focus, according to Reiss, won’t change. “I’m often asked, who do you admire most in fashion?” he says. “And I always say, Ralph Lauren and Giorgio Armani. I have a ton of respect for the fact that those brands are not particularly swayed by trends; they’re committed to a particular vision and they don’t veer from that. I’ve worked to do the same for Reiss.”

Seems to be working, if Miss Middleton is any indication. “We’ve tended to be pretty understated about our A-list fans,” Reiss says. “Kate’s been a loyal customer—she’s got a white coat [of ours] that’s three years old, and she wears it constantly. All the attention on her and on the fact that she loves Reiss has made us think, well, maybe we could brag a little more than we do.”

Photo: Mario Testino

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