NEW YORK — Hermès is taking the jitney to East Hampton, N.Y.

This story first appeared in the April 2, 2009 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.

The French luxury brand will take up temporary residence in a 2,000-square-foot space at 63 Main Street from May 20 to Sept. 20. It will be Hermès’ first seasonal store.

While retailers such as Gucci, Coach, J. Crew, Eli Tahari, Polo Ralph Lauren and Tiffany have opened in the Hamptons, Hermès remained on the sidelines, shipping products direct to customers in East Hampton, Southampton and Bridgehampton. “We send a tremendous amount of merchandise out to the Hamptons pre-summer season and during the summer season,” said Robert Chavez, chief executive officer of Hermès USA.

While Chavez is convinced Hermès has a strong following in the resort communities, he’s not ready to make a permanent commitment. “The store will only be open for the four peak summer months,” he said. “We want to do at least two or three summer seasons to get a read on what the potential is. If it’s very strong, we’d look to do something on a more permanent basis.”

Chavez conceded traffic continues to be down in stores, but added, “Our team is very proactive. We’re doing a lot of extra work. We’re holding on.”

Hermès’ beach store will offer summer-type products such as pareos, bathing suits, summer-oriented ready-to-wear, beach towels and tablewear. “We’ll offer our cashmere shawls, which are perfect for summer evenings, less formal jewelry, porcelain and items that can be used as hostess gifts. There will be brighter colors in our scarf collection.”

The design of the East Hampton store will be a departure from typical Hermès units. The store will be primarily white with sisal flooring. “We know that the potential is great,” Chavez added. “We want to make this very casual and relaxed. People go to the Hamptons to get away from all the formality.”

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