The popular preppy-skewed brand will open a flagship on Rivington Street on the Lower East Side on Friday. The 1,250-square-foot store location marks a lot of history for the brand, which opened its first pop-up on the street in 2017, shortly after it launched, according to cofounder and creative director Jack Carlson.
“We had only been around a few months and were online only,” he said. “But the day we opened, there was a line of people outside. It was great to see the reception.”
Soon after, Carlson took a space on Grand Street that started as a pop-up but became permanent in 2019 when Rowing Blazers signed a two-year lease. That location also housed the company’s offices.
But like many other retailers, the pandemic caused him to reexamine the store’s future. “We were closed for the majority of 2020,” he said, and although the space was able to reopen that fall, when the lease was up for renewal in February 2021, Carlson decided not to renew.
“We wanted to take our time and look for a new space,” he said. He explored NoLIta, the West Village and other locations on the Lower East Side before settling on the location at 8 Rivington Street.
The new store is approximately the same size as the Grand Street location but has a different aesthetic. Carlson said that while the former store was “a big box,” this store has different rooms and is “a little more grown up and sophisticated. That makes sense as we’ve grown as a brand. It has a slightly different feel, but the same spirit.”
He retained the wood fixtures and paneling that had been in the space and then refinished it and put in new lighting. It also incorporates some major sports-related artworks from Julian Pace, Jonas Wood, Donald Robinson and others. “The old store had a lot of art, prints and knick-knacks I had collected,” he said. “This is more understated, but still inspired by sport, color and history.”
In addition to the Rowing Blazers flagship brand, the new store also sells product from the other brands Carlson has worked on of late including Warm & Wonderful, Gyles & George and Arthur Ashe, his most recent project that launched at the end of August. The Rivington Street store also features an entire room dedicated to vintage product, which Carlson said is “very important to me.”
Carlson was a coxswain on the U.S. national rowing team and has a Ph.D. in archaeology from Oxford University (a center of rowing worldwide). He’s also the author of “A Humorous Guide to Heraldry” and “Rowing Blazers,” a coffee-table tome about the “authentic striped, piped, trimmed and badged” jackets worn by oarsman around the world. He drew on that knowledge for the Rowing Blazers collection.
Looking ahead, Carlson said there are no immediate plans to open additional stores, but it is something he’s considering.
“It would be great to have a few more stores, but we’re taking it one step at a time,” he said. “We don’t see ourselves in every town in America, but we have a great following in London, Paris, Tokyo and Seoul and we’ve done events in those cities with pop-ups, so I could see us opening stores outside of New York down the road. But there are no plans right now.”
The Rivington store is having an event on Thursday and will open to the public on Friday.