Rag & Bone is doubling its retail presence in Greenwich Village in a move that affirms its commitment to men’s wear, even as women’s has become its growth engine.
This story first appeared in the December 11, 2008 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
The contemporary label opened its first store, a dual-gender boutique, at 104 Christopher Street three months ago. Last weekend, the store was converted to women’s only, and a twin space for men opened two doors down. An unaffiliated English tailor’s shop separates the two locations, but a common antique frontage creates the impression of continuity.
“Our first one opened Labor Day and it’s done tremendously well,” said David Neville, who coowns and codesigns Rag & Bone with Marcus Wainwright. “We’re obviously extremely aware of everything going on [in the economy.] We’re lucky to be small enough to be able to keep expanding in this way and staying on target.”
He cited the strength of the last four collections for the performance of the store and of the company.
“The clothes have been our most recognizably Rag & Bone. For women we do shrunken blazers, double-breasted blazers, leggings. There’s a whole look — a Rag & Bone aesthetic — which is the reason for the success,” he said.
Rag & Bone began in men’s wear, marrying English tailoring with classic American workwear. Now the business is 70 percent women’s, but the designers didn’t want men to be underserved by the dual-gender store, where inventory skewed to 60 percent women’s. So they jumped on the vacant space, which shared many of the same characteristics as the existing store, including its size of 1,600 square feet.
“We wanted a better opportunity to showcase our men’s because we’re really proud of it. And we thought if we had two, we could accentuate the masculine and feminine. The original store is a little more pretty, more delicate,” said Neville. That store has an ornate tin ceiling, chandelier and wooden floors, while the new men’s unit has exposed beams, slate floors and a spiral staircase with a brass banister. Both have black lacquered frontage, exposed brick walls, pipes and iron joists.
“The most important thing is to showcase our men’s and women’s in their own environments that are more tailored to guys and to ladies. That’s what we do with the clothes, too. A lot of the women’s wear is inspired by men’s wear, but tailored to the women’s form,” Neville said.
Rag & Bone was the first fashion outpost to land on Christopher Street, among boutiques catering to a gay clientele. It has enjoyed plenty of tourist traffic and spillover from the designer brands clustered on Bleecker Street, Neville said.
“We’re lucky to have stumbled on these spaces because they’re real gems,” he said, describing them as warm, authentic, historic and aspirational.
Next year the stores will carry shoes, which Rag & Bone launched for spring. They already carry boots designed in collaboration with Grenson Shoes of Northamptonshire, England. Rag & Bone’s reputation rests partly on its support of long-standing American factories and English craftsmen.