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Miguel Fluxá knows that being a global brand sometimes means following the local example. So when Camper debuted its second New York location in June, the Spanish brand chose a 1,200-sq.-ft. space, even though most Camper stores top out at about half that size.
“In the U.S., homes are bigger, shops are bigger, everything is bigger,” said Fluxá, scion of the Fluxá family, which founded Camper in Majorca, Spain, in 1975. Fluxá, one of the heads of the brand, knows the U.S. well. In 1999, he spent six months studying at New York University’s Stern School of Business during the buildout of Camper’s first New York — and U.S. — store, which opened in Soho in 2000.
But expanding the U.S. business doesn’t mean diluting the brand’s signature quirky looks — or its unconventional business decisions. This summer, the company bowed its second Casa Camper hotel, in Berlin (the first is in Barcelona), and earlier this month opened a second edition of the in-residence restaurant, Dos Palillos. Fortunately, as Fluxá pointed out, “We are a family-owned company. We like to do things our way.”
FN: Why are you seeking to expand in the U.S.?
MF: The U.S. is not an easy country for a European brand like Camper, but it’s an important market. The brand is quite well known in some areas — maybe not to everyone — but a lot of people know the brand. So we are looking to expand both in distribution and in [our own] shops. We don’t have so many stores right now in the U.S., but [expanding the number of accounts is something we’re looking to do]. The East and West Coasts will be the very first places. After that, I would say cities that are a bit international and established.
FN: What other markets are you looking at in terms of expansion?
MF: We are still expanding in Europe, so the U.K., Germany, France, Italy and Northern Europe are quite important to us. And the first market for us outside Spain was Japan, in the beginning of the 1990s. We have been quite strong in Japan since then, and all of Asia is growing — it’s one of our key regions.
FN: Has the world economy altered the way you do business?
MF: Long term, it doesn’t affect what I do, and it’s not going to affect our brand. We are continuing to produce, and we’re going to create new lines. But in the short term, you are more careful of everything, for sure.
FN: What made you decide to move into hotels?
MF: I know [it’s untraditional], that’s why we did it. I’m not saying [going into licensed goods such as perfumes or watches] is right or wrong, but at the very least, you have to be careful of the brand. Licensing is not something we want to do.
FN: Will we see any more Casa Campers in the future — maybe in New York?
MF: We have to see how Berlin works first.