Swarovski-encrusted hoodies, studded T-shirts and embellished jeans are Lounge's stock-in-trade, attracting some of its most loyal customers. Still, the 16,000-square-foot store at 593 Broadway in SoHo offers much more than flashy clothes.
Lounge has a clubby feel with dark walls and scuffed wood floors. A full-time DJ plays world and electronic house music while shoppers sift through the 500 labels Lounge carries.
The store, which occupies a full block between Houston and Mercer Streets, appeals to rocker chicks, downtown hipsters and uptown trust-fund babies looking for something to wear on Saturday night.
Consumers are greeted by a wall of rock 'n' roll memorabilia, with a photo of the famed Frank Sinatra "Rat Pack'' signed by every member, costing $4,000, and a guitar signed by Paul McCartney, $9,500, marked down from $12,500.
At the back of the store, the Casablanca Tea House serves Moroccan cuisine, staying open until 4 a.m. The restaurant, which has brass lanterns, etched brass tables and billowing white fabric, was recently the scene of a Kanye West-Jay-Z party.
Most of Lounge's lower level is given over to shoes and handbags, everything from Marc Jacobs to Dirk Bikkenberg at prices from $129 to $1,700. Beyond a white curtain at the back is the Studio A hair salon.
"We're known for our embellished pieces," said owner Jack Menashe. "Nothing sells more than the studs and rhinestones. Rappers, musicians, rock stars, all come here for the bling."
Lounge's women's buyer, Tina Setia, goes to Los Angeles for market weeks and shops on the Lower East Side for unusual labels. "It has to be fashion-forward and made well," she said. "It has to follow the current trend. There has to have something special about it."
Price seems to be no object for Lounge's customers. The store carries $38 T-shirts, $5,000 coats and lots in between.
Buddhist Punk is one of the biggest sellers. Other labels include Dolce & Gabbana, D&G, Heatherette, Betsey Johnson, Junk Food, Sky, J Brand, Rojas and Miss Sixty, which has its own boutique and is one of several leased businesses in the store."We're gradually becoming more of a department store," Menashe said. "We're looking for more concessions. We may add a cosmetics counter. We think the growth potential is incredible. Lounge will do $10 million in sales in 2006."
Menashe wants to open a larger version of Lounge in Midtown. He declined to specify a location, saying, "It's in a very special building. The store would be like Lounge but more high end. It would have a restaurant and hair salon," operated by a marquis restaurateur and stylist.
Three-year-old Lounge recently added a vintage clothing department, displayed in a wood-paneled area with the ambiance of a rec room. In addition to retro finds such as a hot-pink minidress and a black ruffle-front dress, there are leather jackets and jeans. Having vintage has brought in a downtown crowd, Menashe said.
Lounge cultivates a celebrity clientele. "After one of his shows, [rapper] Jim Jones said, ‘I want to give a call out to Lounge,'" Menashe said. Paula Abdul recently spent several hours at the store eating and shopping her way through $60,000, he added.
The store's success is based on its ability to stay ahead of the curve, Menashe said. "We constantly have to change," he added. "I see people copying Lounge all the time. We always have to think of the next thing."
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