x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 20 January 2018

LK Bennett's fashion arrives in the UAE

The chairman of the UK clothing and accessories store favoured by royalty talks about the store opening in Dubai's Mirdif City Centre mall.

The new LK Bennet shop at Mirdif City Centre mall in Dubai. Additional shops are planned for Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE. Pawan Singh / The National
The new LK Bennet shop at Mirdif City Centre mall in Dubai. Additional shops are planned for Abu Dhabi and the rest of the UAE. Pawan Singh / The National

Nestled snugly in the upper level of Mirdif City Centre mall, LK Bennett's first Middle East boutique is like a little piece of London's Brompton Road in Dubai. Instantly recognisable from its silver-trimmed glass facade to its cream-cum-mink interior, the shop had its official opening on Tuesday evening.

"We have a lot of customers in the UK who are Emirati so we know that our products appeal here," says Robert Bensoussan, the chairman of LK Bennett. "We also have a lot of customers buying our bags and the clothing, so we believe there is a good client-base, plus we have a fantastic relationship of price to quality and that's what counts."

Since it was founded by Linda Bennett in London in 1990 and following the introduction of womenswear collections eight years later, the label attracted a string of high-profile fans, most notably the Duchess of Cambridge.

"It's true the duchess has helped with our image, as she's been wearing some of the products we sell extremely well," says Bensoussan. "We're very happy she's a fan and wish that we'll also have some celebrity [fans] within the region soon."

Kate Middleton's much-favoured raffia platformed wedge, Maddox, is available in-store in coral, black, turquoise and nude, as is her wardrobe staple, Sledge, for Dh1,045. Set to fly off the shelves equally as fast is the new Selina pump (in rose or tan/black crocodile) with its tubular bow embellishment, adding a modern twist to the classic design.

This season's highly wearable clothing line includes floaty, bias-cut silk dresses in elegant cream and black, with structured cocktail dresses in vibrant magenta and ruby red - retailing for around Dh1,400. Harking back to its roots and fondness for traditional tailoring, winter essentials such as tweed jackets and pencil skirts can also be found on the racks of LK Bennett in Dubai.

"Everything is designed in London yet our team is very cosmopolitan, with designers in England, France, Italy, etc. The manufacturing of shoes is mainly done in Spain and Italy, and clothing is mostly in Europe and China," says Bensoussan.

Lest we forget the accessories, LK Bennett's collection this season is bang-on trend with generously sized slouch bags in metallic shades, which sit alongside bubblegum-pink designs and classic black creations with silver detailing. Not to be overlooked either are sparkly minaudières weighted with crystals and iridescent beads.

For fans of the brand, the arrival of the store is not a moment too soon and ladies in the capital won't have to wait long, either, says Bensoussan, who, together with Phoenix Equity Partners, which bought the company back in 2008.

"Dubai seemed natural for our first store in the Middle East as it is a hub," he says. "More stores in Dubai are on the cards and so is Abu Dhabi. With our partners [Jashanmal Group], we plan to open many more - at least three or four more. In the whole region, we'll have between six to eight stores hopefully in the next three years." As for whether a menswear line is on the cards, Tony Jashanmal, the executive director of franchise partner Jashanmal Group, says the brand's focus remains exclusively female for now.

"We're just concentrating on the ladies for now and handbags have been selling very well [in Dubai]."

The key to the label's success will be whether it continues to hit the middle-range market with its affordable lines of shoes and clothes. Jashanmal says they know exactly who to target and how.

"We are wait-listed in other stores and LK Bennett is not targeting super-high luxury fashion. We're not trying to be next to Hermès or Dior or Louis Vuitton. So in Mirdif, in our opinion, it comes at the upper end of what [the mall] represents."