Appeared In
Special Issue
WWD Year In Fashion issue 12/11/2007

NEW YORK — Helmut Lang was eager to stake a claim in the Meatpacking District.

Lang’s owner, Link Theory Co. Ltd., is still looking for the optimum location, but that’s not keeping the brand from the neighborhood. Lang has opened a 2,000-square-foot temporary store at 819 Washington Street, signing a two-year lease with the option to stay longer.

“Right now I have the space on Washington Street,” said Andrew Rosen, president and co-chief executive officer of Link Theory Holdings U.S. “I’m not saying that’s going to be the only space I’ll have in the Meatpacking District. It was the only space I could get right away and I wanted to open right away because I have stores in San Francisco and Los Angeles and I wanted a store in New York.”

Rosen said of the new store, “I’m happy with the way it came out. I’m happy with the business. It’s going to be next to Standard Hotel when it [the hotel] opens next year, and when the High Line [park] opens in the fall, it’s right there. It’s a great spot.”

The cult brand opened its first U.S. retail stores in California in September, on Melrose Avenue in Los Angeles and on Maiden Lane in San Francisco.

However, it has been an uphill climb to establish its retail presence in Manhattan. The designer started his business in 1986 and quickly became one of the leading practitioners of minimalist, edgy, cool design. Prada Group bought 51 percent of Lang’s business in 1999, promising to develop the label worldwide. However, friction with Prada chairman and ceo Patrizio Bertelli led Lang to resign in January 2005 as creative director.

In 2004, Lang and his fragrance licensee, P&G, terminated their six-year association and his first freestanding perfumery door closed on Greene Street here.

Link Theory, which bought Lang from Prada in March 2006, hired Habitual founders Michael and Nicole Colovosas as design directors two months later.

Darrel Romanoff, who owns 819 Washington Street, said the Meatpacking District seems busier since Friday’s opening of the Apple store at 401 East 14th Street. Romanoff is redeveloping two buildings in the neighborhood, 833 Washington Street, with 10,000 square feet of space, and 402 West 13th Street, with 20,000 square feet available.

This story first appeared in the December 11, 2007 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

Romanoff, whose grandfather operated a wholesale meat business in the Washington Street building he’s redeveloping, said rents in the Meatpacking District average $250 to $300 a square foot. “Apple spiked the rents a little bit [after it signed its lease],” he said.