a.y.k, which began almost 20 years ago, boasts 120 stores in Hong Kong and other cities in Southeast Asia. It also has franchises in Dubai, Australia and Canada.
The brand offers comfortable designs with an urban sophistication at affordable prices. South African franchise owner Liora Katz chats to us about this new retail offering.
What is the retail concept behind a.y.k?
a.y.k is one of the four brands housed under the umbrella company of Another Group. The retail concept is to bring couture designs to the public at an affordable price. Our store in Hyde Park Corner in Johannesburg offers our clients two of the four brands, with a.y.k. being our main offering. The other brand is called K2 and we will be adding a small section for a male clientele with a label called Indu Homme in the next year or so.
Why did you decide to open an a.y.k franchise in South Africa?
I joined my husband on a business trip in Hong Kong and always find it quite hard to find unique, boutique, tailored and well-made clothing at prices that are reasonable. I came across a.y.k and managed to walk out of one store with at least 10 items! I was so impressed with the brand that I contacted head office and over a two year-period we had finalised the South African franchise.
What kind of items can customers find in store?
This season offers items with an Asian inspiration – tailored garments with an interesting detail and design that creates a look different to the norm. The clothing allows an expression of self and individuality.
a.y.k offers a limited number of items per style. Why?
A purchase at a.y.k means that you will not have to worry about seeing anyone in the same outfit as you. As we bring in all four seasons of a.y.k’s collections, we have the opportunity to be very selective while offering a limited number of items per style, overall we bring in a larger number of styles across all seasons.
How have people reacted to the brand since it opened in Hyde Park Corner?
We have been open for just over two weeks and the response has been more than we could have asked for!
How would you define SA style and why and how do you think a.y.k will appeal to South Africans?
South Africans are very educated on fashion and appreciate international trends. a.y.k offers South African females edgy, urban sophistication with a look for winter that encompasses Japanese trends similar to Yohji Yamamoto, Issey Miyake and Matsuda yet with craftsmanship and design for daily comfort.
What tips would you give to business people looking to bring international franchises to SA?
I believe that understanding the culture and country where the franchise originates is key to the success. If you believe in the franchise be persistent!