By  on January 2, 2008

NEW YORK — After a five-year run on Broadway as the GMM of streetwear emporium Michael K. in Soho, Susan Boyle has taken to a quieter life in an outer borough. The longtime streetwear buyer earlier this month opened her own boutique, called Rime, at 157 Smith Street in the hip Brooklyn neighborhood of Boerum Hill.

In a seemingly natural progression from Michael K., Boyle’s new shop caters to a grown-up street kid, with a mix of sophisticated streetwear, contemporary men’s apparel and a smattering of upscale designer goods.

Boyle described the contents of her boutique as “streetwear couture. ... I’m trying to do a store that’s not mainstream America,” she explained.

Rime’s brand selection certainly reflects that sentiment. Underground labels such as Kith and Lion & Rooster sit alongside streetwear favorites like Alife and Penfield. The classically masculine Fiberops shares floor space with the fashionably flamboyant Parajumpers. Even luxury staples, like Tom Ford sunglasses, have a home at Boyle’s new store. A small selection of footwear—including updated versions of classic Dr. Martens and a collection of limited-edition sneakers—lines one of Rime’s walls.

The common thread throughout Rime, Boyle said, is that “everything is clean and sophisticated. It really represents the maturation of the streetwear market.”

To complement her merchandise, Boyle looked to establish an equally “clean and sophisticated” decor for Rime. Shoes sit atop sugarcane and birch-wood cabinetry, and the apparel is housed on unobtrusive, movable metal fixtures. The 800-square-foot store is grounded with clean, white epoxy floors. And adding credence to the wintery name of the store—Rime literally means “frost on trees”—the windows are lined with snow-covered branches and a big-screen TV plays a faux burning fireplace.

The majority of the shop caters to men, while about 40 percent of the buy—and significantly less of the sales floor—is devoted to women’s wear. “I really wanted a men’s-ier feel,” she said, and therefore padded the windows and front fixtures of Rime with guys’ gear. “There are tons of upscale women’s boutiques around here, but nothing comparable in men’s. The neighborhood was hungry for this.”

Rime is the newest addition to a largely independent retail–rich Boerum Hill, which was exactly what initially attracted Boyle to the area—compounded, of course, by cheaper rents than she could have found in Manhattan or even in Williamsburg.

But Boyle isn’t the only one noticing the exciting retail vibe in the neighborhood. Liz Claiborne’s denim giant Lucky Brand Jeans opened an outpost on Smith Street this summer, and Boyle has heard rumors that a Banana Republic may soon pop up nearby as well. “It would be sad if it becomes a neighborhood of chain stores,” she conceded.

Still, Boyle said, Boerum Hill is a far cry from the chain-laden streets of Soho, and the hustle and bustle of Michael K.’s on Broadway. “I get to hang out and talk to people all day long. I get to see people around the neighborhood wearing clothes I sold them.” To sum it up, she said, “I find myself smiling a lot more.”

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