Victorinox, a brand best known for the pocket knives it's been making for the Swiss Army since 1891, is slated to open its first West Coast store at Los Angeles' Beverly Center on Saturday.
The interior of the 2,333-square-foot space, based on a store design the company debuted earlier this year in Germany, includes geometrically cut oak wood walls, steel fixtures and the shade of red familiar to anyone who has laid eyes on a Swiss Army knife.
In addition to the brand's full range of Swiss Army knives, the boutique will stock its lines of household cutlery, timepieces, luggage, fragrances and apparel -- the latter of which currently includes the fall-winter 2011 menswear collection as well as pieces from its limited-edition Remade in Switzerland capsule collection done in collaboration with U.K. designer Christopher Raeburn.
(During a recent preview of the collection, my Image section compatriot, Melissa Magsaysay, tried on the Remade in Switzerland recruit's cap -- which I'd envisioned as more guy-appropriate -- and she carried it off with aplomb.)
The company has flagship stores in Geneva; Düsseldorf, Germany; and London, with additional stores in Tokyo; Hong Kong; Shanghai; Paris; Basel, Switzerland; and New York City -- home to the brand's only other U.S. boutique.
And Victorinox is planning to expand more than just its retail footprint next year -- it's ramping up efforts in several categories including home cutlery and its womenswear program. Although women's apparel has been part of the merchandise mix since 2007, the brand DNA has traditionally appealed to the military-meets-mountaineer man with patterns based on camouflage and topographical maps of Swiss mountain peaks and an enthusiasm for packing apparel with the kind of technical functionality found in its pocket knives -- think water-repellent fabrics, hidden pockets and drawstrings in outerwear pieces, embroidered grommets under the arms of button-front shirts and various incarnations of the company's cross and shield emblem scattered throughout.
While the expanded spring-summer 2012 women's collection does have some of those references -- including some cheery blue-and-white camouflage patterned shorts and a military-inspired shirt dress, the predominant color palette of navy blue and red combined with the pops of coast yellow, bottle green and float orange of the spring season's "Urban Traveler Summit to Sea" theme (for both the men's and women's collections) made it feel like a slightly (knife) edgier upscale cousin to Nautica.
Only time will tell if a company best known for accessorizing the Swiss Army can successfully carve out a bigger slice of the apparel business. But, with a new West Coast presence at the Beverly Center opening this weekend, and an expanded women's collection on the horizon for spring 2012, one thing is certain: The knives are out.
Victorinox Swiss Army on the Beverly Center's sixth floor will be located between the J. Lindeberg and Godiva Chocolatier stores, and is slated to open its doors to the public on Saturday.
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Photos: Looks from the Victorinox spring -summer 2012 men's (ranging in price from $55 to $395) and women's collection ($45 to $295), will be part of the merchandise mix at brand's first West Coast store at the Beverly Center. Credit: Victorinox