MARC ON MERCER: SO SLEEK

Byline: Sharon Edelson

NEW YORK — Less than a month after opening the first Marc Jacobs boutique at 163 Mercer Street in SoHo, Jacobs’s partner, Robert Duffy, is talking about additional units.
“Our first customer was Julia Roberts,” said Duffy, standing outside the 2,500-square-foot space. “I thought it was a good luck charm.”
Duffy declined to say what Roberts purchased, but he did say the store rang up $20,000 on opening day and is on its way to doing an estimated $2.5 million in first-year sales.
Duffy, who says he believes in fate and talismans, first laid eyes on the landmark building five years ago.
“I said to my real estate agent, ‘If that building ever becomes available, call me.”‘
The store is housed in a building that was once a garage. Jacobs kept the original garage door, but cut a small entry door into it.
Inside, the store has a streamlined design without the minimalist hard edges. The room is softened by cream-colored walls, a dark mahogany floor and creamy leather sofa and chairs designed by Christian Liaigre.
Small lights arranged on the ceiling in a grid pattern look like constellations reflected in a massive 12-foot-by-7-foot mirror.
Jacobs’s collection — pared down to orange, taupe, black, gray, bone and blue — provides the only jolt of color. The clothes hang on single rolling racks on opposite walls. Sweaters are neatly folded on two long tables, barely off the floor.
“The salespeople will get good exercise,” Duffy said, referring to the low tables.
So far, a black pump with a pointy toe has been dubbed “the pump of the season” by a salesman.
“It’s phenomenal,” said Duffy. “We’ve almost sold out of it.”
Cashmere sweaters have been moving briskly, at $600 to $1,200, he said, adding, “We sold out of the first order of fishnet and waffle sweaters in certain colors.”
A cashmere and mink coat, which Jacobs calls “cashmink,” is also generating a lot of interest.
“In the last few days, people have been picking up on heavier items,” Duffy said.
The cashmink is $3,000; wool coats are $1,900; jackets, $1,100, and skirts, $350 to $700.
“There doesn’t seem to be that much price resistance,” Duffy said.
“The reason we opened downtown is that we sell to Bergdorf Goodman, Barneys New York, Saks Fifth Avenue and Bloomingdale’s,” Duffy said. “We have so many customers downtown. People used to ring our showroom bell on Spring Street.”
“Marc and I took the lease on the space over a year ago, but it was stalled over the negotiations with Louis Vuitton,” Duffy said.
When Jacobs signed on to develop a ready-to-wear collection for that house, Vuitton made a one-third investment in his company.
Duffy explained that Louis Vuitton did not invest in the SoHo store, but will back Jacobs’s subsequent retail ventures.
“We would contribute on an as-needed basis,” said a Vuitton spokesman. “We provide them with financing. Marc Jacobs would create and run the points of sale.”
“I’m looking at other spaces,” Duffy said. “I have my eye on a space near Union Square in San Francisco and a space in London. We sell to Harvey Nichols and A la Mode in London and have a customer base in London. San Francisco is another place we retail very well.”
On Wednesday, he and Jacobs are throwing a party to celebrate the opening. Duffy rented a parking garage next door, which will be painted and decorated to replicate the store, down to the last details, including furniture.
“In the store, the couches are leather. Here, they will be Naugahyde,” he said. “I want everybody to have a good time, but we don’t want people trashing the store.”

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