SHOWROOM WITH A VIEW
Byline: Janet Ozzard
NEW YORK — “When I started 10 years ago, the idea of a sales rep was somebody with gray industrial carpet, fluorescent lights and those gray metal grids for hanging clothes,” said Michael Atchison, owner of a designer and bridge showroom under his name.
That’s not the case with Atchison’s new digs, a 3,000-square-foot space at 498 Seventh Avenue, with a south-facing view that stretches from the Hudson River to the Empire State Building. He moved in four months ago from a smaller office at 202 West 40th Street. Atchison shares the space with Randall Rutledge, president of a public relations firm bearing his name, and their two French pugs, India and Olive.
“The idea was to present entire collections and to work with young designers,” said Atchison, who has represented such established names as Donald Deal, Eric Gaskins, Eva Chun, Myrene de Premonville and Sylvia Heisel.
And unlike some reps whose feelings are hurt when their clients set off on their own, Atchison said he’s pleased to see successful labels leave the nest.
“It’s great,” he said. “It means they’re successful, and I’ve done my job.”
Currently, Atchison’s stable includes San Francisco-based designer Wynn and his secondary line Wink, as well the Melinda Eng, Angel Yanez, Michael Morales and Shawn Ray Fons labels. Wholesale prices range from $25 on Wink pieces up to $2,000 for an evening gown from some resources.
His space on the 24th floor used to house one of Kenneth Cole’s licensed lines. When Atchison and Rutledge signed the lease in the spring, many of the distinctive architectural details — dentile moldings, pediments over the doors, elegant columns — were either missing or in bad shape.
“What wasn’t here, we replaced,” said Atchison. The two put the pedal to the medal and moved in just after fall fashion week, ready to meet retailers. Now the showroom is painted white, with gauze floor-to-ceiling curtains and sisal area rugs.
“We know what our niche is: young, fashionable, Park Avenue day-into-evening,” said Atchison. “We’ve tried more sportswear, we’ve tried missy, but we know our focus.”
Atchison said the showroom will do about $5 million in wholesale volume this year.