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Independent Spotlight: Theresa

Inside Munich's high-end mecca.

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Interior of Theresa

Photo By Courtesy Photo

NEW YORK — Even in the toughest of times, opportunity can still knock.

Although 22-year-old Munich-based luxury retailer Theresa has lately seen consumers spending less in its 16,000-sq.-ft. shop, its Website has experienced 50 to 60 percent growth per year since its launch in 2006, said owner Christoph Botschen, who runs the business with his wife, Susanne.

“People are ready to shop online and spend more money online,” he said. “We’re treating it very seriously, and the business is taking off internationally.”

The Website, which includes footwear from designers including Christian Louboutin, Miu Miu, Ugg and Marni, and apparel from brands such as Marc Jacobs, YSL, Anna Sui, 3.1 Philip Lim and Juicy Couture, is operated entirely in-house and features a gift-guide area, a “Shop the Shows” section highlighting pieces straight from the runway and a trend-scouting feature that educates consumers on how to match pieces together.

Though the Botschens also own a small men’s store in Munich, Theresa Men’s Fashion, which stocks high-end apparel and footwear from brands including Balenciaga, YSL and Lanvin, their Website caters only to the women’s market.

Half the sales from the site come from German-speaking markets — mainly Germany, Austria and parts of Switzerland — while the other half comes from customers abroad, including Americans.

“Strangely enough, we don’t do much advertising or marketing in the U.S., but we continue to grow there,” he said, noting that luxury labels, such as Halston, Lanvin and Prada, tend to sell better internationally than in Germany.

At both the online and brick-and-mortar women’s store, shoes have been a sweet spot during tough times. When Theresa opened in 1987, it stocked a small footwear offering to complement the clothing, but having the space and chance to expand, the retailer has continued to add luxe lines.

Now footwear styles from Balmain and Christian Louboutin are selling briskly, while ready-to-wear apparel and handbags have taken a hit.

“Shoes are still okay. They’re at the same level [of sales] they were at last year,” Botschen said, adding that the average price of a pair of shoes ranges from 350 to 450 euros, or roughly $500 to $630 at current exchange.

To fuel sales within the tougher apparel category, the retailer will be making some changes, adding more bridge collections as a response to consumer spending habits.

“We have to react,” said Botschen. “We cut our budget for this spring and again for the upcoming fall, and we’re planning to change the assortment for spring ’10. We will still carry designer lines — that is what we’re known for — but we’re looking more and more for good prices. People are more aware of prices than they used to be three-quarters of a year ago and they’re getting more and more into the bridge collections.”

Theresa also will aim to buy closer to season to avoid early discounting on merchandise in the store.

“We started a sale [in the beginning of June] because we got new merchandise for winter in May, which is insane for us,” Botschen said. “We’re trying to go back to the way it used to be, starting a new season at the end of June, which still is early, but it’s not overwhelming.”

Unlike apparel, the shoe mix is not undergoing a major revamp. “In shoes, we’re more sophisticated, more high-end,” Botschen said, noting that Celine is the newest brand to join the footwear assortment.

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