The handbag company Gigi traces its roots to 1969 when Bennett Glazer, a book designer and typographer by trade, founded Graphic Image to manufacture leather date books and planners. If books seem quaint in the age of the Internet and iPad, it’s easy to imagine that some of Graphic Image’s core products have been rendered obsolete.
“We wanted to take our knowledge of leathers and sewing and get into the fashion world,” Thomas Glazer said. Gigi New York bowed in 2011, selling handbags, clutches and travel accessories with the same timeless aesthetic that Bennet Glazer brought to Graphic Image products.
While Gigi has been a wholesale brand, available at retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Neiman Marcus, it will launch on Sept. 1 a 2,200-square-foot pop-up shop at 875 Washington Street. The pop-up shop, which will occupy the former Scoop Men’s location, will operate for one month.
While Bennett’s children Glazer and Carol O’Connell continue to create leather albums and frames for Harrods, Tiffany & Co. and Brooks Brothers at the family’s Long Island factory, they had the foresight to see changes coming. “Even if our products were still in favor, our retail partners were struggling all over,” said Tom, president of Gigi New York. “We knew the tide was shifting, even before it hit. While technology was suggesting to some that our products had become outdated, it was simultaneously introducing a new way for us to talk to our customer.”
“Starting from a bookbinding vision, we have grown to create a timeless, classic brand,” said Glazer. “We wanted to open a pop-up shop to create a showcase for the brand since we have been so e-commerce-focused. As a New York-based brand, what better place to gain exposure than in Manhattan. We had a seasonal store in Southampton in the past. It is our future plan to open a freestanding store.”
Gigi New York prices range from $175 for the Chelsea cross-body, which comes in eight colors and a perforated leather style, to $750 for the Henley duffel in black or tan pebble grain leather. The Hailey cross-body comes in four shades of python-embossed leather for $225; the Colette hobo in three shades of French goat skin, $425, and the Abbey backpack in black or tan pebble grain leather, $475.