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NEW YORK — The ubiquity of cashmere sweaters, available everywhere from Saks Fifth Avenue to Sears, has done little to dampen Doron Yona’s enthusiasm for the soft, luxurious fiber.
This month, Yona opened Anik Basic, a 1,000-square-foot sweater-only shop at 271 Amsterdam Avenue, near 72nd Street, on Manhattan’s Upper West Side. Yona’s idea is to provide a wide selection of colors and styles at reasonable prices and open stores around Manhattan and beyond. Most of the basic cashmere sweater styles are priced at less than $100.
"I’m trying to find locations that don’t have such high rents," Yona said. "In these smaller Anik Basic stores I’m creating basic novelty sweaters that are affordable. I’m not going to lower the quality. Instead of buying cashmere [sweaters] from other people, I’m going to do it myself."
Yona predicted that Anik Basic will do sales of at least $1,500 a square foot in the first year.
In addition to the Basic store, the sweater collection, called Malika, is being sold at the three Anik contemporary units owned by Yona and his brother Moshe. The Anik stores are located at 1122 Madison Avenue and 1355 Third Avenue in Manhattan, and in Englewood, N.J.
"We were one of the first fashion tenants to open a store on Third Avenue above 72nd Street in 1987," Yona said, noting that the stretch is now populated by boutiques such as Big Drop and Forreal. "We’re also selling the sweater collection at other locations in the U.S. It’s very low-key wholesaling."
Yona plans to have five Anik Basic units in operation in 2008. "We want to cut our expenses and give the consumer the opportunity to shop for cashmere at better prices," he said. "After opening six or seven stores we’re going to find investors and go worldwide."
Malika, the private label sweater collection, is designed by the Yonas. Anik Basic offers more than 100 different styles. A basic group of sweaters — crewnecks, V-necks and turtlenecks — is available in 30 colors and 20 styles. The top price is $300 to $400 for a cashmere sweater coat.
Malika’s sweaters are made in China and Italy. Yona tweaks some thin-gauge traditional styles, giving them an edgier look with exposed seams.
The Anik Basic store has chocolate brown walls and white furniture. Oversize dressing rooms with enormous chandeliers have flat-screen TVs, a candy dish filled with treats and a water decanter and cup for maximum comfort. Service is low-key but attentive.
"We’re looking to open stores in San Francisco and Seattle and two more locations in New Jersey,” Yona said. The brothers, who are Israeli, operate three units in Israel.
The company plans to launch a Web site for Anik Basic next fall.
Anik Basic’s Amsterdam Avenue address may seem an unusual choice, but Lisa Rosenthal, a broker at Ripco Real Estate, said, "It’s a bustling residential area. It’s hip, young and vibrant” and rents "are higher on Columbus Avenue and Broadway."