NEW YORK — Alternative has opened its first East Coast store, a 1,200-square-foot unit at 281 Lafayette Street in SoHo.
The company operates three stores in California, including one recently opened in San Francisco’s Hayes Valley.
“We thoughtfully and deliberately choose locations,” said Evan Toporek, chief executive officer. “We’re not going to be a mall-based brand, to put it bluntly.”
Alternative is known for the comfort and simplicity of its clothes and the company’s commitment to sustainability.
“Our calling card is really fabric innovation,” Toporek said. “We’re a fabric company that makes clothing. We spend a tremendous amount of time on research and development. About 70 percent of our line is made through sustainable manufacturing processes. We use organic cotton, recycled polyester and low-impact dies. We don’t expect customers to pay more for it.
“Our roots are as a knit-based T-shirt brand,” Toporek said. “We’ve come a long way from that. We’ve extended to dresses, knit bottoms and expanded our fleece business.”
The store also sells third-party brands such as Apolis, Verameat and Current/Elliott.
Alternative’s first active collection, Move, will launch in the fall. The fashion-forward line is made from eco-jersey, eco-gauze, eco-Lycra jersey and eco-plated French terry.
The SoHo store will carry Alternative’s Made in Peru collection, which features six proprietary fabrics sourced from a single organic yarn. There’s a Made in Peru capsule of naturally dyed Ts that were produced in partnership with Eontintes, a Peruvian family business.
Toporek said the next thing on the company’s agenda is to bolster its Web site. “We’ll invest heavily in our digital platform,” he said. “We’re working to tell our story and turn our Web site into that story-telling engine.”
Besides the U.S., Alternative wholesales its collection in Canada, Europe and Japan, and is entering the U.K. in September.
Alternative last month dropped the word “Apparel” from its name to signal the evolution of the brand. A new executive team was appointed that includes president and chief merchandising officer Erik Joule, who was previously vice president of global merchandising and design at Levi’s; design and creative director Orondava Mumford, who was men’s global design director at Levi’s; vice president of marketing Dawn de la Fuente, who previously worked at Incase, and Scott Roslyn, vice president of retail direct, who was a senior strategist at Redscout.
“There’s an elevation of the brand we’re working on,” Toporek said. “We’re moving to higher price points, more fashion and higher levels of distribution.”