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Otte, an independent multilabel retailer with five stores in Manhattan, is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a pop-up shop — the brand’s first.
This story first appeared in the April 23, 2014 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
Otte Pop is located in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, founder Kay Lee’s old stomping ground.
That’s where the Otte brand began when Lee in 1999 opened her first store on Bedford Avenue and North Fifth Street. When her 10-year lease ended in Brooklyn in 2009, Lee closed the store and opened another one in TriBeCa.
Lee never quite got the Williamsburg bug out of her system. She looks for real estate in the neighborhood every chance she gets. “I always want to check out the Brooklyn stores,” she said. One day, when she was visiting a vintage store, she walked to the subway on Bedford Avenue between North Sixth and North Seventh Streets, and saw a sign for a 500-square-foot store for rent at No. 193.
Lee contacted the store owner, who wanted a “ridiculous rent — $250 per square foot. I didn’t know what to do about it,” she said. Lee asked the landlord if he would consider renting her the space on a short-term basis, and he agreed.
“Spring has been very challenging for us,” Lee said. “We have had such a long winter. We projected much more inventory than last year.”
Lee knows she has to tempt the young hipsters and artists in the neighborhood who are different than her Manhattan customers, many of whom are tourists. “I know the crowd,” she said. “I want there to be a discount. We’ll start with 30 percent off for the first spring delivery.”
Otte New York, a private label collection of classic silhouettes made locally, is designed by Lee. “We basically overcut Otte New York,” she said. “Now, we have an inventory situation.” The Otte label will be offered at 40 percent off.
Other brands sold at Otte include A.L.C., MSGM, Sea, Carven, Organic by John Patrick, Vanessa Bruno and IRO.
Otte Pop will be less polished than other Otte stores, in keeping with its ephemeral nature. “I’m really into hanging terrariums,” Lee said. “I’m gathering some cement blocks for a display in the window. The store will have a very organic feeling. Nothing is polished white” or high gloss. Natural plywood will provide a backdrop for the shoe display.