Paul Stuart is showing its younger side.
This story first appeared in the March 19, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The Madison Avenue specialty store has installed a shop to the right of its main entrance devoted to its Phineas Cole label. Phineas Cole, introduced in late 2007, was the first new brand offered by the 71-year-old company. The slim, modern collection of suits, sportswear, shirts and ties is targeted to well-groomed men in their 30s and represents a departure for the retailer, which is known for its more traditional offerings.
The 650-square-foot shop — in the area formerly devoted to men’s shoes, which have been moved to the left side of the floor — features leather parquet floors, herringbone wallpaper and models with papier-mâché faces that were inspired by the company’s old ads. The area also features another first for the company — windows to the outside. On those windows is painted the slogan: “Wit is the Voice of Style,” and the name Phineas Cole, which is based on the fictitious “errant nephew” of Paul Stuart.
“The line has been growing over the past one-and-a-half years,” said Sandy Neiman, marketing director. “The decision to open the shop was made because of the economy, not despite the economy. It’s the right thing to do. People who stop investing in their business in this environment will be in trouble.”
Neiman said that although the merchandise in the shop is “sportswear and furnishings intensive,” the boutique was designed to “showcase Phineas on the first floor” and to draw people into the store. “It raises all the boats,” he said, noting the impact on the business since the shop opened last week has been positive. The Phineas Cole area on the second floor in the tailored-clothing department remains, he said, but the new presentation will “move the business beyond tailored pieces.”
He declined to provide a volume figure for the collection.
Although Phineas remains a small percentage of Paul Stuart’s total business, Neiman believes the line “has legs — it’s got velocity. Phineas has quietly developed a cult following, and we hope this shop will expand that cult.”
Prices remain the same, with suits retailing for $1,384 to $2,384, dress shirts for $228 to $275, and neckwear for $125 to $165.