Wardrobe: Wheeler Dealer

<< Back to Robb Report, December 2003

The newest store in Chicago furrier Hana K’s rapidly growing signature chain is not only the smallest, it is also the most unconventional. The tiny boutique is sandwiched between a gold neoclassical pillar and an elaborate staircase railing on the mezzanine of Chicago’s Bentley Gold Coast auto dealership. Although the setting is unusual, in this particular auto showroom, Hana K is not out of place. It shares the space with prestige jewelry, watch, and leather brands, including Franck Muller, Zenith, Hublot, Fred, Montblanc, Jacob & Co., Jorg Hysek, and Jean Marcel.

This is not the start of a new retailing trend, says Hana K Marketing Director Mladen Djankovich. It is simply one of many opportunities the 25-year-old company is exploring to broaden the reach of its opulent furs and raincoats. "Hana K is always going to have its more conservative shearlings and furs, but we are doing a lot more with trendier, sexier raincoats and men’s cashmeres, and we needed a different kind of outlet to show them," he explains.

Djankovich says the dealership, with its clubby atmosphere complete with a cocktail lounge and house music, certainly attracts a clientele—the young urban male—that differs dramatically from its typical mature female customers. Hana K is also planning new 2,000-square-foot stores in Boston, Las Vegas, Seattle, San Francisco, and Philadelphia as part of its aggressive expansion plans.

"At first glance, coats and cars don’t seem to be the perfect fit, and in a traditional dealership this marriage would have never been a success," adds Hana K owner Pierre Lang, whose company offers $9,500 women’s reversible mink jackets and $3,500 fur-lined men’s parkas in the dealership. "But clearly the luxury shopping experience can be improved by creating a single place where customers can go to indulge their every whim—from test-driving the new Bentley Continental GT Coupe to buying a one-of-a-kind watch to having their measurements taken for a custom rabbit-lined microfiber raincoat."

The shop not only provides Hana K with direct access to a new audience of men who buy gifts for women, it also introduces those men to what the collection can offer them. This winter, the company introduced men’s shearling jackets (priced from $1,500 to $2,500) and casual cashmere knits to its mix. "We took typical American silhouettes—the jean shirt, the fleece sweatshirt, the classic work jacket—and we cut them out of very soft, very lightweight sueded and leather shearlings," says Lang. In cashmere, Hana K moved away from classic plain-weave solid jackets and sweaters, creating novel herringbone and heathered yarn weaves.

Lang says this infusion of menswear coupled with the minishop within the dealership has proved a bonanza for the brand. "A man will go into Bentley and buy himself a car," he explains. "Then, if he’s feeling a little bit guilty about it, he’ll walk upstairs and buy his wife a nice fur coat." Likewise, he adds, "A couple who walks into one of our stores looking to buy the woman a fur coat might just end up buying one for him as well."

Hana K, 847.242.1211, www.hanak.com;
Bentley Gold Coast, 312.280.4848, www.bentleygoldcoast.com

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