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Lifestyle

R.M.Williams Opens First Flagship in New York, Whitewall Hosts Panel

By Eliza Jordan

September 15, 2016

Unveiled on September 3rd was R.M.Williams’ first flagship in the U.S. and newest store in New York—a warm welcome to the bustling streets of SoHo at 152 Spring Street. The iconic Australian brand, most famously known for its authentic and sturdy Outback-worthy boots, originated in 1932 by Reginald Murray Williams to recognize the need for a product that could endure the harsh Australian climates. Two years later, in the Adelaide’s Chronicle newspaper, the brand published their first ad for the “Elastic Side Boots”—and the brand was born.

Since those earlier days, R.M.Williams has since released dozens of boots, belts, attire, and other accessories, even producing a boot that was worn by Bill Clinton during his inauguration to become the 42nd president of the United States in 1993. Today, with a global expansion at the forefront, the brand has been merging art and luxury much more closely, and for the new store, we’re seeing this reign true throughout the interior. For the new SoHo flagship, the brand has wrangled in Sydney-based artist Mika Utzon Popov to develop a unique, tangible interior with more than just an Australian aesthetic or mood. The multitalented artist—a draftsman, printmaker, painter, illustrator, and sculptor—has an immense emotional sensibility, and communicates that through his creations, with interests in architecture (his grandfather, Jørn Utzon, was the architect for the Sydney Opera House) and natural design concepts.

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“I am inspired by so many things, but light above all is what I see most. Natural light moving across and through our world, creating spaces which inform our experience of place and time,” said Popov.

In partnership with experiential retail design agency e2, the store’s natural environment is cohesive with all six of Popov’s creations, with concrete and leather wall installations drawing guests into the store. When first entering the space, guests can notice the left wall’s reservation for product display, and the right wall’s original artwork entitled Landscapes, made from three and a half tons of poured concrete. There is also a concrete base for the window’s display, and as guests continue through the space, they can find a large leather backdrop in the center of the store, stitched in Australia to mimic an aerial view of dried riverbeds near Queensland. With Popov’s creations, those visiting R.M.Williams’ first flagship are able to gain a sense of the Australian landscape, and its natural materials that make up the country’s environment.

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“We are wanting to share our unique craftsmanship and Australian heritage with the world, and New York with its spirit of creativity, entrepreneurship, and adventure is the perfect environment for our iconic brand,” said R.M.Williams CEO Raju Vuppalapati. “This type of environment is one in which R.M.Williams will thrive, with purpose-built product to last a lifetime of adventure.”

To add to the recent opening, Whitewall magazine hosted a two-night panel discussion on Monday and Tuesday evening this week with Popov and art advisor, Viola Raikhel-Bolot (R.M.Williams global art advisor). At the intimate invitation-only event, guests perused the store’s multifaceted offerings, and enjoyed wine, conversation, and light bites from The Fat Radish. There, we discussed Popov’s many inspirations and creative endeavors, his travels, and the work within the store, and even saw a short film produced by his wife. After a night of indulgences, guests said their goodbyes, but only until they return to have their feet scanned on the store’s 8-camera 3-D scanner—a rare perk for anyone looking for the perfect fit. At R.M.Williams, a one-stop shop for art, inspiration, luxury, and customization is possible, and it’s possible in the new Outback of SoHo.

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Adelaide’s ChronicleAustraliaAustralian artistBill Clintone2Elastic Side BootsEliza JordanflagshipJorn UtzonKaty DonoghueMika PopovMika Utzon PopovNew YorkQueenslandR.M.WilliamsRaju VuppalapatiSoHoSydneySydney Opera HouseThe Fat RadishViola Raikhel-BolotWhitewallwhitewall magazine

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