TSE’S CASUAL TAKE ON CASHMERE MAKES DEBUT ON MADISON AVE.

Byline: Alice Welsh

NEW YORK — After two days in its newest location, Tse Cashmere — which opened its first New York store Friday — reported that superfine wool sweaters with an average price of $215 and cashmere handknit sweaters with an average price of $500 have been its bestsellers.
The store, a 3,000-square-foot, two-story operation, is at 827 Madison Ave., at East 69th Street and is the fifth retail unit of the knit and sportswear manufacturer.
According to Megan Morris, director of retail sales for all Tse stores, some $80,000 in business was recorded on Friday and Saturday. The store did not open until 1 p.m. on Friday.
Twenty of the wool sweaters were sold and 10 of the cashmere handknits, which were in pale yellow and pink, were moved.
Other bestsellers were the topper cashmere coat that was featured in Tse’s fall ads, at $1,600; cashmere and Lycra spandex turtleneck catsuits at $900, and handknit cashmere and tibre yarn sweaters with an average price of $600. Thirty orders were taken for a cashmere teddy bear at $150, said Morris.
The store is three times the size of any of Tse’s four other units and houses the company’s women’s, men’s, children’s and home collections. It offers a more extensive range of merchandise than the other stores, especially in woven apparel and home products.
There are floor-to-ceiling windows, allowing full interior viewing from the street, and two entrances, both on 69th Street.
Designed by 1100 Architects, the store includes two tones of finished steel on the inside: a slight rust patina around the windows and shades of black for the display pieces and shelf supports.
The first floor is precast concrete tinted with ocher, and the upstairs floor, stairs and rear two-story wall are pale oak.
Beechwood is used for the shelves. A tortoise-shaped light fixture contains 63 pieces of amber glass.
“When you walk in, you won’t say, ‘Oh, I’m in a cashmere store,”‘ said Rebecca Shafer, Tse’s creative director. “It’s very open and contains much more than just cashmere sweaters. The merchandise will be very accessible, most of it hung or on open shelves — not a lot of nooks and crannies like traditional cashmere stores. We’ve taken the precious feeling out of cashmere and treated it very much like sportswear.”
Although Tse made its name with cashmere, it now uses other yarns such as silk, cotton and superfine merino wool. The company is also expanding its Italian-produced men’s and women’s woven collections, which now account for almost one-third of Tse’s line.
Shafer is projecting a first-year volume of $6 million.
The store is open from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m., Monday through Saturday, with extended hours during the holiday season.
Body and bath products from Santa Maria Novella, an apothecary in Florence; linen sheets from Italy; wax objects designed by artist David Ryan, and cashmere teddy bears are also part of the mix.
Retail prices for the women’s cashmere collection range from $175 for a classic sweater to $2,000 for a coat; bath products are $8 to $30, and the wax objects range from $400 for a small box to $500 for a medium-size vase.
Tse is negotiating with artisan Ted Mueling to do a fragrance bottle and jewelry and is developing a Tse fragrance with Jean La Porte. Cashmere layettes for infants and travel products are also in development.
Expansion plans include freestanding stores in Chicago by mid-1995 and in Paris, Germany and Switzerland in 1996. Tse has offices in London, Dusseldorf and Biella, Italy. Production is primarily in China, Hong Kong and Italy.
The company’s other freestanding stores are in San Francisco, Palo Alto and Costa Mesa, Calif., and Lake Forest, Ill. It also has 75 in-store shops.

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