ALAN’S WIDE-OPEN SPACE
Byline: Karen Parr
NEW YORK — Steven Alan once dubbed it “the tiniest showroom in New York.”
That is changing.
The 225-square-foot showroom opened in May 1996 in a small space above the Steven Alan retail store at 60 Wooster Street.
It offered clothes by a select coterie of edgy young designers, including Rebecca Danenberg and Pixie Yates. Now the group is moving to a 1,400-square-foot space at 118 Mercer Street.
“This is a big stretch for me. It’s kind of a gamble,” Alan said.
Several lines will be in on the move, ranging from streetwear to young contemporary. In addition to Danenberg and Yates, they include Milk Fed, Built by Wendy, Bernadette Corporation, Spooky and Cake.
Alan also reps Herve Chapelier bags, Crushed Spheres jewelry, Ashley Pierce underwear and T-shirts, and St. James T-shirts.
A visit from the Japanese corporation Isetan was what finally forced Alan out of his previous space.
“Isetan came with about eight or nine buyers,” he said. “They were standing, and then some other buyers came up. It was kind of funny — everyone laughed about it — but I felt it couldn’t continue.”
The showroom is expected to be in full swing by next Tuesday, in time for the Rebecca Danenberg show that is scheduled to take place there then.
In addition, Alan is coordinating a day for viewing all the lines at the end of this month, as an official opening for the showroom.
Because of the expanded space, Alan expects to do about 30 percent more volume this year than his original estimate of $750,000 to $1.2 million. If he’s right, first-year business would come to between $975,000 and upward of $1.5 million.
In the old showroom space, Alan will have men’s wear, including the debut of a line he designs, which will carry his name.
Alan said the new showroom will draw enough retailers to keep his team from the trade shows.
“We were doing a lot of the trade shows, and I don’t really like doing them,” he said. “This will enable us to save money by not doing the trade shows; then we can help [the designers] with promotional materials.”
He plans to do biography-style videos about the designers featured at the showroom, and send them to stores.
“I want to be like a laboratory for designers to come here and work with the buyers, to foster the development of their collection,” Alan said.
The stores that carry some of the lines right now range from small boutiques in New York, like TG-170 and Dressing Room, to others across the country and in Japan. Barneys New York carries both Rebecca Danenberg and Pixie Yates.
Alan feels the lines represented at Steven Alan, which retail from $35 to $800, represent a niche that is needed in the stores right now.
“I think it’s going to become more prevalent to incorporate smaller designers,” Alan said. “Because to an extent, I think people are bored with the mass marketed designers and they like having something special that’s not everywhere.”