By  on April 16, 2007

High-end U.S. loungewear brand Skin is putting its hippie-chic style on the retail map.

In mid-February, the brand marked the soft opening of its first signature store, a 500-square-foot unit overlooking the Hudson River in Piermont, N.Y.

"I wanted to open the boutique to be able to show the concept as a whole and to have more control over brand image," said designer and founder Susan Beischel. "As a one-woman show, it's [also] close to my home and it makes it more efficient for me to be able to manage the business."

The store, designed by Sekou Cooke, features curved, lit wall panels muffled in white grass cloth and dressing rooms with floor-to-ceiling silver beaded curtains.

Beischel is scouting a location on the West Coast, as well as a second East Coast store.

"I have my own plans on how I want to build the brand; I prefer more intimate environments," said Beischel, who launched Skin in May 2004 after spotting a gap in the innerwear market for more sophisticated cotton loungewear while working as a buyer for Jil Sander and designer boutique Ultimo.

Her modern loungewear pieces are manufactured in Peru using natural textiles and dyes that are developed on-site. Pima cotton and organic cotton, cashmere and baby alpaca knits are typical fabrics.

For fall, Beischel has added fur pieces, such as slippers and a shrug that come with certificates of natural death.

"I wanted to develop a fur bra, but it kept looking a bit too Flintstones," quipped Beischel, who has added leggings, stockings and ribbed knits with silver thread into the equation.

Henri Bendel, Barney's New York, Catriona Mackechnie, Patricia Field and Fred Segal are among stores that have placed orders, she said, declining to reveal sales figures.

Beischel said 60 percent of Skin's business comes from clothing boutiques, 20 percent from lingerie stores and 20 percent from spas and resorts like The Parrot Cay in the Turks and Caicos Islands.

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