In a world increasingly full of Shopbops, Scoops, and cookie cutter shopping, there is a gem of a store located in a quiet corner of Soho that dares to be different – Kisan. Tsumori Chisato, Servane Gaxotte, Sophie Theallet, Vanessa Bruno, and Golden Goose are just some of the global designers that can be discovered at the 1,300 square foot shop on the corner of Greene Street. After traveling the world as television producers for twenty years, owners Thorun Anspach and Olivier Bremond poured their cultural experiences, passion for craftsmanship and shopping into realizing their dream of opening a store. In 2008 the Kisan concept was born and the store doors opened. Today, the couple continues to seamlessly showcase emerging, hard to find and established talent into a shopping kaleidoscope that offers a distinct point of view accented with the their signature Parisian sensibility.
What is your television business background?
We had a successful company in France called Marathon. We were producing dramas, documentaries and animation. We were selling our programs worldwide. But after 20 years, we were ready to do something different.
How did your experiences traveling the world for television lead to creating your retail store?
We were big shoppers and enjoyed finding interesting things in Tokyo, Berlin, New York or Stockholm. We were always dreaming of gathering all our finds in one place.
What were some of the most exotic locations you have visited?
The most exotic city was probably Tokyo. Everything was so different from everything we knew.
Where do you go on buying trips for the store besides the major cities?
All the main brands are represented in Paris or New York. So that’s mostly where we place our orders.
What is each of your roles at Kisan? For example, does one of you handle buying and the other logistics or do you share responsibilities?
We do things together.
Your Parisian sensibility is evident the minute a shopper steps into the door. How did you create this and make it look so effortless?
We simply choose what we find beautiful and work with designers who love what they do.
You have so many hard to find designers in your store. How do you discover these talents?
Word of mouth, trends we hear about, speaking with designers and artists.
Please describe the Kisan girl/woman and her signature look?
The Kisan girl/woman has taste and a personal style, she likes elegance but also wants to be comfortable.
How do you decide a designer is right for Kisan?
We have to fall in love with the work of the designer. It also has to fit with the other brands we have and should not overlap with styles we already carry.
What are some of your spring must-haves?
The dresses by Sophie Theallet are breathtaking pieces, the “woven” leather basket-bags by Dragon are irresistible, some of Tsumori Chisato creations are collector’s pieces.
How much of your business happens on the e-commerce store vs. the Soho store?
E-commerce is about 10% of our business, but more and more people look at the website before coming to the store.
What is it that you love most about Paris? New York?
In Paris, we love the diversity of proposals, the creativity and personality of the stores, the antiques, the bookstores, the cafes, the way people can enjoy life (even if they always complain). In New York, we love the constant freshness, the excitement, the friendly behavior and the attraction for the city, which is quite unique. The two cities are really opposites. This is why we love them both.
How do you compare the way the women in each city dress?
In New York, women either dress casually or extremely dressy, pulled together from head to toe. The French woman enjoys to dress up and be elegant but in an understated way. What is called effortless, stylish chic. French women like to look “naturelle” and even if they put time and energy in getting dressed, it should not show.