Vitkac Unveiled: Arkadiusz Likus's Stylish Revolution in the Heart of Warsaw
Article by Gili Biegun
In the pulsating heart of Warsaw, Arkadiusz Likus' visionary empire finds its fashionable beat, with Vitkac standing tall as a testament to his foray into luxury retail. Likus, a trailblazer in Poland's fashion scene, has transformed Vitkac into a cultural icon, seamlessly blending sophistication with contemporary allure.
Pronounced "Vik Kas," Vitkac isn't just a store; it's a vibe. Likus curated a lineup of over 180 global brands, a number that swelled to nearly 400 by 2023, echoing the global echelons of style from Louis Vuitton to Balenciaga.
But Likus didn't stop at the shelves; he crafted an experience. Picture rooftop restaurants with panoramic views, gaming rooms, and even skate ramps. It's a retail haven that transcends boundaries, seamlessly integrating online and offline vibes.
This isn't just about fashion; it's about Likus rewriting the narrative of Warsaw's style. From the fall of communism to opening his first luxury venture in 2004, Likus champions Vitkac as a dynamic force shaping Poland's fashion future.
And now, Arkadiusz Likus etches his name in fashion history as the first Pole in The BoF 500 Class of 2023. The Business of Fashion's prestigious index recognizes Likus's individual brilliance and VITKAC's significant impact on Poland's fashion scene, marking a historic moment for the country in the global fashion arena.
Could you share the story behind the inception of Vitkac?
My journey with Vitkac traces back to the late 1980s in communist Poland. A pivotal moment in my life was a trip to West Berlin, where the contrast to my upbringing was profound. The KaDeWe department store there left a lasting impression on me, inspiring a dream to establish a similar store in Poland. This dream, nurtured over a quarter of a century, eventually became true with Vitkac.
Vitkac carries a unique name. Could you share the significance of naming it after your favorite artist, Witkiewicz, and how his experimental and avant-garde spirit influences the identity of VITKAC?
Witkacy was the most colourful persona living in the period between the two World Wars a short time of Polands independence after 123 years of not being present on maps of Europe. His multifaceted talent as a painter, writer, philosopher, and photographer deeply resonated with me. Given the fact, that he lived in Warsaw on the same street where VITKAC stands, naming the store in a spin of his name was my way of paying homage to his experimental spirit and aligning it with VITKAC's identity.
Can you elaborate on the concept behind Vitkac and how it has evolved over the years, particularly in terms of creating a distinctive experience for clients?
VITKAC presents a distinctive concept in the retail landscape, combining the scale of a department store with the curated experience of a concept store. Our approach is multifaceted - we are not just a physical store, but also an online presence, embracing tri-channel distribution. This synergy has positioned us as a cultural icon in Poland, resonating with diverse audiences, from being featured in rap songs to providing weekend kindergarten services for our customers. The store offers a rich tapestry of experiences, housing celebrated brands like Louis Vuitton and Gucci, alongside engaging attractions such as a gaming room with arcade and PlayStation games, and even a physical skate ramp. This evolution of VITKAC over the years reflects our commitment to creating a unique and comprehensive experience for our clientele.
Vitkac retails over 180 global brands. How do you choose these brands, and how has the focus on the client experience evolved over the last five years?
Now boasting over 200 brands, our selection process has evolved from my personal choices to a team-driven approach, focusing on emerging designers. The shopping experience at VITKAC has significantly evolved since 2011. Initially a luxury-only store, we now encompass a broader range of premium, lifestyle, and sportswear brands. This diversity allows us to curate unique experiences for different customer segments while also blending these worlds to reflect contemporary trends.
The building, designed by Stefan Kurylowicz, is a significant part of Vitkac. Could you share the architectural vision behind the store?
The architectural design by Mr. Kurylowicz is a cornerstone of VITKAC's identity. The building's form, respecting the pre-World War II street layout, features a simple interior structure. This deliberate design facilitates a seamless shopping experience, allowing customers to navigate and explore with ease.
Poland's luxury retail landscape has seen growth, but challenges exist. How do you see the future of luxury retail in Poland, and what role do you envision Vitkac playing in this evolving landscape?
Despite recent challenges like the pandemic, war in Ukraine, and economic shifts, VITKAC has expanded, opening a second store in Krakow. I am optimistic about the future of luxury retail in Poland and believe VITKAC will be pivotal in shaping this sector. Our commitment to evolving consumer needs and trends places us at the forefront of this dynamic industry.