Chip off the old block: Kit and Ace to open in London’s fashion central Shoreditch

 

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The Independent Online

Kit and Ace, a Canadian fashion chain backed by the Lululemon founder Chip Wilson, is opening its first flagship UK store as it embarks on global expansion.

The retailer was founded last year by Chip’s wife Shannon and his son JJ and specialises in a “technical” cashmere range that can be put into a washer and dryer without risk of shrinking. 

The Independent understands that a lease has just been agreed for Kit and Ace to open a shop on Redchurch Street in Shoreditch. It has recently been testing a pop-up shop in the capital.

The company will join a host of trendy retailers that have recently opened on the same street, such as Sweaty Betty, Nudie Jeans and Le Labo.

One source said: “This is a fantastic spot for Kit and Ace. Shoreditch is suddenly a place where fashion brands want to be as they realise it is an area where cool people shop who have money.”

The high-end leisurewear company had planned to expand overseas in 2016, but it now wants to open 50 shops this year in response to customer demand.

The roll-out will be supported by Mr Wilson, whose upmarket chain of yoga stores Lululemon Athletica had to recall a line of “see-through” yoga pants in 2013. He sold an $845m (£542m) stake in Lululemon to private equity last year and is an adviser to the new brand.

The “Athleisure” concept – a mix of sportswear and casual wear– is growing in the UK, with customers wanting to combine healthy lifestyles with clothes that have style and functionality.

Shannon Wilson, who designed some of Lululemon’s fabrics, also designed Kit and Ace’s new cashmere fabric, Qemir.

Kit and Ace currently has around 20 stores, mostly in North America,  and is expected to spend as much as $300m on its expansion. In March, JJ Wilson said it wanted to have 10 UK and Australian stores by 2019. 

Kit and Ace declined to comment.

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