Retailer of the Week
11 Jul. 2012
CHAD VO, OWNER OF BEHAVIOUR, NEW YORK CITY, USATo mark the start of the spring 2013 menswear market kickoff in New York later this month, we thought it would be appropriate to feature the owner of one of Manhattan’s most directional multilabel menswear shops as Retailer of the Week. Here, Chad Vo, owner of Behaviour (www.behaviournewyork.com), which operates its original outpost on 19th Street between Seventh and Eighth Avenues, a year-old spinoff store a block and a half west on Ninth Avenue and 20th Street, plus an online shop, discusses the stores’ unique brand mix, how tourism boosts his sales and why Korea is his go-to fashion hotspot of the moment. He also shares his thoughts on the spring 2013 men’s trends he has seen thus far. Interview by Christopher Blomquist
Behaviour's store owner Chad Vo
Seven years ago I opened the first Behaviour on 19th Street. I wanted to create a multilabel, Europeanlike shop that you would find somewhere like Amsterdam or the Marais in Paris where it is more of a men’s boutique. I think at this moment if you go to any store you either have to go to like a Hugo Boss for a brand or if you want a boutique environment you have to go to a department store like Bergdorf [Goodman] or Saks to get multilabels. But what I found was missing was that they only carry the big brands. I wanted to bring over the smaller Italian and French brands. That is why I opened the shop.
What are your bestselling brands?
Right now there is a brand called Messagerie from Italy that does really well for us. The price point is really good and it is all Italian cuts and slim-fitting. It’s all about fabric and construction; they are really good at doing that. And then there is a Korean brand called Wooyoungmi that we always do well with also. We’ve created a decent fan base and so far we are the only ones in the United States to have it. We are bringing in four Korean designers in this coming season just because the prices are good–not great, but good–and it’s comparable to the Italian and French in the construction. The fabric is superb so it’s up there. And you can tell. At every single showroom I went to in Paris and Milan everyone had a Korean designer represented in their showroom.
best selling items at Behaviour: shorts and trousers
What specific items are selling best?
For spring 2013 I definitely am concentrating on a more item-driven buy. Shorts and trousers are pretty much a major, major trend because now people are really embracing colors and also it gets so hot in the summertime in New York now that people are not wearing jeans anymore but they definitely are buying cotton-based bottoms. So we are definitely pushing khaki pants and colored chino pants in lightweight cotton stretch. Stretch is actually one of the main things that we are doing because guys now are loving the stretch in their pants.
Is there a difference between the stock you carry in the two Behaviour stores? I know the Ninth Avenue one was somewhat more designer-driven when you opened it last year.
It was designer-driven but it got a little too dark in here and we definitely discovered that the neighborhood on the West Side is much more conservative and older. We also have a lot more tourists so we are trying to make it more colorful this coming season. And we are basing it more on “buy now, wear now” kind of ideas so it’s not going to be so dark and serious anymore. It’s going to be the opposite. It’s going to be really happy, colorful and cheerful. And I think we have to pick brands with a lower price point because it’s really for tourists who don’t want to spend a lot of money.
How do you attract these tourists into the shop?
We don’t advertise at all. Luckily, because it’s Ninth Avenue and there are so many people coming from the hotels [in Chelsea and in and around the nearby Meatpacking District], they just walk by and see us. We have bright lights so they are always curious to see what is in here.
Behaviour wants to offer smaller Italian and French brands
What has been the biggest challenge you’ve faced as in independent retailer in your seven years in business?
For me, it has been that I have been bringing in brands that don’t have the budget to advertise in America. Literally, I have been bringing in brands where America was not even in their conscious. Everything about the way it was done was done for Italy, France or the European market so they don’t have any name presence in America. So people come in here and ask, “What brand is this?” They don’t know what it is but they try it on and they say, “Wow!” Once we get them used to it, they love it. Now they are coming in and asking for the brands that we introduced to them four or five years ago.
How do you attract new customers? Is it strictly word-of-mouth?
It is merely word-of-mouth and each year we just get more and more. Guys in the neighborhood start telling their friends. And it’s our customer service. Once they start coming in and we start helping them they realize that they are not just buying one item. They are literally buying their wardrobe. Guys are coming in at the beginning of the season and they are buying all their work pants and all their pants. We are pretty knowledgeable so we are helping them pick out their outfits for each season from colors to fit and everything.
Do you have a typical customer?
We definitely range because we have different looks. We have the funky customers but our main customer is actually in his thirties, forties or fifties, he’s a New Yorker, the clothes have to fit well and the fabric has to be beautiful. It’s almost that they want an updated classic that somehow has a sexier fit. So they like the preppy clean look but they definitely want it much more fitted and sexier.
best selling brand: Messagerie from Italy
When I was in Paris and Milan I wasn’t sure because this season was pretty colorful. The biggest trend I saw was definitely floral prints, which for me was a little shocking because I don’t know how many guys would want to wear that. But hopefully by next season they will get used to the print and they’ll like it. The other one was geometric prints. And ethnic prints are big so we are buying a lot of bottoms with prints because I think that is easier to wear. And more color–even more than this season.
Any color specifically?
We’re going to have this almost salmon orange color. We saw that in a lot of showrooms and a lot of collections. Yellow is still a big color and green still.
Do you shop domestically at all?
I do. For spring I will look more for things like T-shirts and tank tops. Simple stuff. I’m going to do the ENK show and Capsule this summer and some local showrooms in New York.
Speaking of, you should tell everyone who is attending those shows later this month to come visit Behaviour while they are in town…
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