A MIXED TRIO GROWS IN RETAILING
Byline: Wendy Hessen / Marc Karimzadeh
NEW YORK — Sure, there’s plenty of talk that the economy is slowing, but that hasn’t deterred three accessories firms from expanding their retail businesses.
Though they serve different clientele, Fred Leighton and Fragments have developed specialty jewelry businesses, and both see this year as prime time to extend their reach, even if it is just next door. Lana Marks, known for her colorful range of exotic skin handbags and leather goods, has taken the route of many European accessories firms and is developing her own stores rather than depend on specialty stores. Here’s what the trio is up to:
While the Wall Street area’s residential community has been growing in recent years, there has been a dearth of places to shop, especially for the kind of hip jewelry found for the last seven years at SoHo-based Fragments.
With the opening of the company’s second store — an 800-square-foot shop at 53 Stone Street, a tiny strip nestled between South William and Pearl Streets and crossing Hanover Square in the Financial District — there is now a place for all those young financial wizards to spend some of their capital gains.
Situated just a block from the Goldman Sachs headquarters, the new Fragments offers an assortment similar to that in the SoHo space: fine jewelry from designers including Mallary Marks, Studio Waterfall, Christopher Phelan, Hillary Beane, Gurhan and Nominations, offset by an accessories assortment such as handbags by Michele Vaughn, Paige Roberts, Johnny Farah and Nancy Bacich according to Candace Caswell, who oversees retail operations for the firm.
Caswell said the Stone Street shop is also planning to devote significant space to the wedding market.
“The bridal part of the business has become more important in SoHo and we think it will do really well here, where many young Wall Street executives don’t have contemporary choices in this neighborhood,” she said.
Dating back to the mid-1600s, Stone Street is often described as one of the oldest paved streets in New York. The sidewalks and street were recently repaved with bluestone and Deer Isle granite blocks, respectively, and lamp posts that resemble period gas lights have been installed.
The Stone Street neighborhood — designated a landmark in 1996 — is a family affair of sorts for Fragments co-owner Janet Goldman. Her husband, developer Tony Goldman, has played a significant part in the two-block area’s revitalization. By May, along with their son, Joey, Tony Goldman plans to open Joey & Tony’s, an Italian grill with room to seat more than 200, some of which will spill out onto the sidewalk. Gold’s, a champagne bar with light food fare will open on nearby South William Street.
The Fragments store has a similar feel as the SoHo unit, with lots of exposed brick, large windows, with a bit more steel than what now can be called the uptown store, Caswell said.
The company launched its first consumer advertising campaign on Jan. 22. Ads will run every Monday in the Wall Street Journal, according to Janet Goldman.
Created and photographed in-house, the campaign pairs Wall Street jargon with an image of the jewelry. The first ad featured stackable Nomination bracelets with the caption, “Introducing our stack exchange.”
Laden With Leighton
Fred Leighton, the jeweler known for its overflowing inventory of fine vintage and estate jewelry, will soon have twice the amount of space to display all those gems.
Leighton is taking over the space next door to its 25-year-old boutique at 773 Madison Avenue in Manhattan. That 1,100-square-foot space was a Baby Guess shop, but has been vacant for about a year.
Leighton has also hired designer Adam Tihany — known for his work on New York’s Le Cirque restaurant — to create a new interior for the combined spaces, whose entrance at the corner of East 66th Street will remain.
“We will likely close the store for four to six weeks late this summer and then reopen in September,” said Mara Leighton, vice president, who is Fred Leighton’s daughter. When asked if the jewelry will finally get a chance to spread out in the new space, she quipped, “No, my father will just buy more.”
Alligators on Worth Avenue
Accessories designer Lana Marks opened her third store in Palm Beach, Fla., last month. The 1,500-square foot unit at 238 Worth Avenue — previously a Mondi store — features signature handbags, belts, small leather goods and a new suit collection.
“[Palm Beach] is enormously international,” Marks said. “For me, having a store here has an emotional connotation. New York is the flagship, but I will always have a soft spot for Palm Beach.”
Though born and bred in South Africa, the company has been based in Palm Beach since its inception in 1987. Though she had been selling the line to clients through the showroom, she said the company was missing out on the Palm Beach tourist business. This, she said, encouraged her to open a freestanding store.
The new store, which Marks designed with Palm Beach architect Peter Russo, features a color palette of cream, black and gold to complement her variety of colored alligator, ostrich and lizard handbags, which account for about 80 percent of her business. Local artisans hand-carved stone shelves, which are finished with gold leaf. Gold and black vitrines are set into panels of beech wood. The belts are displayed at eye-level on round, yellow gold silk columns.
Marks said pastel colors and particularly her pink alligator handbags are currently favored by her Palm Beach clientele, especially in clutches, top-handled styles and totes.
Besides Marks’s 1,000-square-foot Madison Avenue flagship and a 2,000-square-foot unit on Aspen’s South Galena Street, she said the collection is distributed to about 40 specialty stores around the country. A fourth store is slated to open at 465 Rodeo Drive in Beverly Hills by May, and Marks said she is closing in on a space in The Forum Shops at Caesar’s Palace in Las Vegas. Bal Harbour, Fla. and Houston are other potential locations, she said.