NEW YORK — Tse believes its new 2,500-square-foot SoHo flagship here will position the brand to appeal to a younger consumer and absorb some of the trend-driven neighborhood's energy.
When Tse launched in 1989, its concept was to break away from cashmere's traditional stodgy image. Tse, which is nearing selection of a new designer, is not alone in that goal anymore as brands from J. Crew to Vince put a contemporary spin on the fiber. The space at 120 Wooster Street replaces Tse's longtime location uptown at 827 Madison Avenue, which closed in August 2006.
"We realized when we had the Madison Avenue location that we had a strong customer base downtown," said Augustine Tse, chairman and chief executive officer, who estimated first-year sales of $3 million for the new flagship. "When we decided to relocate, SoHo felt like a natural fit."
However, the biggest factor to influence the brand will be the designer. In January, Tse said it was not renewing the contract of Tess Giberson, who was hired in September 2005. "We are very close to selecting a new designer," Tse said. "We hope to have an announcement soon."
The flagship is a departure from the design of the Madison Avenue unit. Janson Goldstein designed the SoHo store to feel open, airy and light, using plank wood floors, blond wood display tables and curvilinear stucco partitions. The original exposed brick walls and skylights remain. Fitting rooms feature cashmere curtains.
For spring, transparent knitwear pieces — sleeveless tops and long-sleeve cardigans made from nylon mesh with a floating cashmere trim and brightly colored pockets — will be sold exclusively at the SoHo store.
A transparent sleeveless top is priced at $400, a clear sleeveless top with cashmere stripes, $500, and a clear cardigan, $700.
"Accessories is a category that we would like to support moving forward," Tse said. "The main focus is to build Tse, Tse Men and tsesay. As the Tse brand categories grow, there is definitely the possibility for further expansion [in Manhattan]. Our uptown clientele is still extremely important to us and we have not ruled out another location on Madison Avenue."A March 11 event to celebrate the flagship's opening will be hosted by Julianne Moore, and will benefit Friends Seminary, a private school on East 16th Street.
"Bart and I and some other parents are working to endow a scholarship fund for Friends Seminary," said Moore, referring to her husband, Bart Freundlich. "We love the school and want to give as many children as possible the opportunity to attend. Tse has been very generous to the school, and as a parent, I am very appreciative."
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