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Sunday April 27, 2008

Reiss arrives

Another British brand arrives to bring newness and excitement to their customers.

The men’s range by Reiss offers casual styling while the women’s range also has occasion wear.

TUCKED away in a corner in Pavilion KL is British brand Reiss, brainchild of David Reiss.

Reiss (pronounced “reece”) started as a menswear company in 1975, with the women’s range launched 25 years later in 2000.

From running a small gentleman’s outfitters store tucked away in a corner at Bishopgate, London, in the early 1970s, Reiss has taken the legacy left by his father and turned the brand into a high street staple in his home country.

And, of course, what is considered high street a few continents away usually becomes semi-high-end when it reaches our shores, thanks to our relatively weaker currency. The price for both men’s and women’s lines start from RM200 for basic tops and shirts.

Dresses range from a few hundred ringgit to over a thousand. A quick browse through the store puts Reiss roughly in the same league as Karen Millen, BCBG and DKNY, in terms of design and pricing.

A feminine silhouette from Reiss

Like all brand owners proud of their heritage, Reiss claims there are no direct competitors to his brand. He simply thinks of everyone as a competitor.

“The retail and fashion industry is a challenging environment, with customers constantly demanding more,” says Reiss.

Reiss offers the customer a total look, whether for work, weekend or special occasions. A team of 20 designs the clothes, and Reiss has the final word on all collections.

Although Reiss is first and foremost a retailer, (the brand was named Fashion Retailer of the Year in 2003 at the British Style Awards), he emphasises that one cannot be a good retailer without being a good designer as “product is paramount ... most of the time should be spent on (the design) of the product.”

Reiss’s look for the women’s range is predominantly feminine, with flirty dresses, flattering blouses and form-fitting skirts. For Spring/ Summer 2008, black and white dominate, with washes of pink and canary yellow.

The accessories range is quite extensive, offering bags, clutches, shoes and small leather goods. Prices start from RM59.

Their men’s range offers shirts, suits and t-shirts with sportswear and utility influences. Pants are relaxed and casual.

“Our goal is to give our customers beautifully designed clothes, a contemporary and refined collection at affordable luxury prices,” says Reiss.

“Customers now know the trends months ahead of the clothes hitting the stores, thanks to media like the World Wide Web and fashion magazines. They have much more fashion knowledge. Retail has to be reactive to that change. That’s how we stay relevant and continue to capture our audience.”

Last year has been the year of the great entry – the entry of all brands, that is – to our shores. There were brands that we had been wishing for, brands that no one had ever heard of, and brands that might have passed its heyday, but they were all coming.

Casual offerings from the women’s range

This might just be the year of reckoning, the year when all the brands compete for the customers’ ringgit. At the end of 2008, we may see who manages to break even, or even make a profit and retain their plum positions in the malls.


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