NEW YORK — It seems fitting that the future of fashion might be found in New York’s oldest neighborhood.
Developer Howard Hughes Corp. in mid-June will dedicate a Seaport District building at the corner of Fulton and Front Streets to Seaport Studios, a 5,000-square-foot space on two levels as a showcase for a series of emerging designers.
Howard Hughes’ master plan for the Seaport District includes open space, a proposed residential tower, a rooftop venue, a retail environment with premier fashion brands at Pier 17, restaurants and a food hall in the Fulton Market building and an iPic Cinema. All that’s still a year or two away, so Howard Hughes is giving shoppers a taste of its unconventional approach to retail with Seaport Studios.
The interiors of Seaport Studios will be a nod to the area’s history of maritime trading, with boat-building materials and nautical ropes used as props. Envisioned as a mix of fashion, art, food and beverage, Seaport Studios will feature no less than two and no more than five up-and-coming designers and artists at one time, with designers rotating every two to three months, said Phillip St. Pierre, senior general manager of the Seaport District for Howard Hughes. “We want to keep it interesting with constant changeovers,” he added.
Scott Studenberg and John Targon of Baja East, who last year were chosen as one of WWD’s Ten of Tomorrow 2015 honorees in a program sponsored by Howard Hughes, are the first emerging designers to be revealed as part of the program. Subsequent designers will be named in May.
Whether Seaport Studios becomes a permanent part of the Seaport District will be evaluated, said St. Pierre, adding, “Seaport Studios is an amazing concept. I’m not aware of anyone doing it. It may be something to do for the long term.”
Emerging brands may be able to graduate to a permanent store, said Lincoln Palsgrove, director of marketing at Howard Hughes. “If we find the right brand and they’re in the right point in their life cycle and business to be able to handle taking on their own space, we’ll be very open to having that conversation,” he said.
“We’re trying to remove the barriers for young designers and pave their path straight to retail,” Palsgrove said. “Howard Hughes as a landlord knows the challenges. We see value in making critical investments in the fashion industry and playing a role in setting a course for a new designer’s future.”