LOS ANGELES — Blue Bee Men has good reason to gloat. Next month, the Santa Barbara, Calif., specialty store will join a handful of upscale U.S. boutiques boasting a Ralph Lauren Black Label shop-in-shop. Historically, the line has been sold only in Ralph Lauren flagship locations and upper-crust department stores, although other upscale specialty retailers, such as Stanley Korshak in Dallas, have also installed shops.
At 500 square feet, the shop will feature RRL and Polo apparel in addition to Black Label slim-silhouette suits, leather bags, woven shirts, ties and sweaters, said Marty Bebout, who co-owns seven Blue Bee boutiques in Santa Barbara’s State Street shopping district with partner John Doucette.
“We’re really proud of this addition. It’s so perfect for our customers to combine RRL premium denim with incredible [Black Label] designer suitings,” said Bebout, whose customer base is split between tourists and locals.
According to Bebout, finalizing the in-store shop was a compromise of sorts with Ralph Lauren representatives, who wanted Blue Bee Men to carry Polo in addition to its existing RRL product mix of denim, premium T-shirts and canvas bags with distressed leather handles, among other items. “RRL was a home run for us from the beginning, but we couldn’t justify selling something as common as Polo,” Bebout said. “We’re a boutique and we wanted to offer clothing that is more special. But we pushed for Black Label, and agreed to carry Polo as well.”
Combining rustic and modern decor, the shop is separated into three sections, one for each line, united by flooring made of salvaged barn boards. Modern light fixtures will set the Black Label area apart, while antique shelving, armoires and vintage flea-market finds will surround classic Polo shirts and $700 RRL cashmere sweaters in the other sections.