NEW YORK — The vintage clothing craze just isn’t getting old.
And for the owners of vintage mecca What Comes Around Goes Around, Seth Weisser and Gerard Maione, that means expanding their business in order to showcase more of their extensive vintage wares. The pair is opening another retail store today at 351 West Broadway, adjacent to their existing location.
With the new space, the owners have opted to go more upscale, featuring high-end vintage pieces, including a cashmere houndstooth Hermès suit, a Vivienne Westwood Mud dress from the early Eighties and a cheetah-print ponyskin Azzedine Alaïa jacket from 1985.
“Once we felt our [first] store was at a certain place and it had a certain identity — the best jeans, the best leathers, the best T-shirts and the whole rock ’n’ roll vibe — we figured we’re set here, we’re in a good place and we have a fantastic staff,” said Maione. “We felt that to go for a higher-end women’s fashion salon would be the next phase for us.”
With that luxury lifestyle philosophy in mind, the company also is launching a private label line called Circa, designed by Karen Boyle Maione, its creative director. The collection largely will feature pieces created from vintage fabrics, yet in modern silhouettes, like tuxedo jackets and inverted kick pleat skirts. Weisser projects first year sales for the collection at $250,000 to $350,000.
Given the new store’s more luxe merchandise, Weisser and Maione have radically changed their design aesthetic for the new space. In opposition to the dark wood and western feel of their original store, the new 1,200-square-foot boutique offers a sleek, more plush environ for customers to shop in. Design features include polished oak floors, pale celery walls with olive accents, a recessed ceiling and Art Deco-inspired furniture by interior decorator Vince Lattuca. Antique pieces, like a turn-of-the-century French armoire, and brass fixtures give the modern space a richer feel.
“It’s such a drastic difference in appearance between the two stores that people will be captivated,” said Boyle Maione. “When we redid the first store three years ago, what was driving the business was the denim and the T-shirts. So, we just went totally rock ’n’ roll in there, which was cool, but I pulled out all the [high-end] women’s stuff because it didn’t fit in.“People were like, ‘Where’s the Courrèges and where’s the Pucci?’ But now, I’m glad we waited for the new store because it’s a different customer, a different lifestyle.”
Selling expensive vintage pieces in humbler digs wasn’t an option for Maione. “We’re selling garments at price points which range from $200 to $20,000 for a hand-painted Hermès bag from the Thirties,” said Maione. “Our core is a thousand, two thousand, three thousand dollars, so we have to have the right presentation, the right ambience and the customer service. We want to do it the right way.”
Instead of the obvious Mod or punk-inspired pieces, What Comes Around Goes Around has a more nuanced offering, according to Maione. In addition, its product mix isn’t just designer driven. It’s about the fashion validity and look of each piece, regardless of its origin.
The company, which has been in business for 10 years, consists of the retail stores, along with a showroom where designers, fashion editors and stylists consistently mine the extensive vintage archives for inspiration and editorial shoots.
“So much of [fashion] is about label-driven things,” said Maione. “There are so many companies knocking off all realms of vintage, not even just jeans, but tweed blazers, cord trenches and charging crazy prices. We offer these categories that aren’t as high priced as designer garments,but that are on the same level — if not better quality than the new designer pieces out there.”
The retailer strikes a balance between the affordable and the expensive by offering product mixes like tweed, Chanel-inspired jackets and authentic Chanel jackets.
“We’ve always tried to offer an alternative to high fashion without the price points,” said Weisser. “As we’ve continued to expand with collectibles and unique objects we’ve made sure that we are still catering to different types of customers — at all levels.”
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