Having started their Haus Alkire label by opening their own store in TriBeCa, Julie and Jason Alkire will be using the knowledge they’ve gleaned from working with shoppers directly to open a pop-up store in Houston next month.
The husband-and-wife team spoke about how their business is changing during Thursday’s open house at the CFDA Fashion Incubator.
The Houston shop will be in a residential high-rise building with retail on the ground floor. A number of professional athletes live in the building, as does a friend of the company founders. With a number of loyal clients in Texas including Lynn Wyatt, the husband-and-wife team have done several trunk shows in the state in boutiques and will visit select clients’ homes for fittings.
Another part of their expansion plan is more accessible opening price points. Dresses now start at $795, “with a sturdy cotton group that still speaks their language,” as opposed to focusing solely on the $1,395 range, Julie Alkire said. That has made the collection more approachable to a wider range of wholesale accounts. In order to offer that broader price range, they needed to be able to depend on significant production runs to make that worthwhile, she said.
There is also a greater emphasis on the changing weather patterns in the U.S. and on-the-move customers’ increased interest in lighter-weight fabrics. A brocade jacket, for example, isn’t as “dense, fused and heavy” as the norm, she said. “We really focused technically on the weight of fabrics, so that it’s light and you can just throw it in your bag. Even the pebbled georgette is gritty, but it’s light for having two layers,” she said, showing the sleeve of the ethereal robe she was wearing.
The company founders also spoke of how their CFDA mentors, Susan Sokol and Jayne Harkness, “have been amazing. They both come from that development merchandise background,” Julie Alkire said. “The Incubator has allowed us to offer our ideas and get feedback with this built-in network. We were executing every week. It just kind of keeps you on your toes.”
As the TriBeCa neighborhood where the company has a store becomes increasingly popular, Haus Alkire already has two built-in resources for shoppers — jury-duty-serving ones exploring the neighborhood and mothers doing the post-kindergarten pickup at La Petite Ecole, the store’s next-door-neighbor. “It’s been a great neighborhood for us, and we got there early — almost eight years ago,” he said.