MAD ABOUT MADISON
RETAILERS MARK AND EMILY GOLDSTEIN BRING THE SECRETS OF THEIR SUCCESSFUL STORES TO MALIBU AND MELROSE WEST.
Byline: Rose Apodaca Jones
It seems as though Mark and Emily Goldstein can’t be stopped.
Less than a year after reconfiguring the successful retail formula of Madison into the Melrose West designer showcase Emma Gold, the efficacious pair have opened their fourth store — and third Madison — this past summer in Malibu’s Country Mart.
“This is it for a while,” promised Mark Goldstein with a laugh. “We didn’t need to open any more stores to live a good life. But the Melrose [location] reared its head, then Malibu and, well…”
And, well, the Goldsteins know a good thing when they see it.
They opened the first Madison on Melrose east of Fairfax in 1989 with a partner, introducing Robert Clergerie and Patrick Cox and making shoe fiends of Angelenos. Other Madisons followed: A Beverly Hills store opened in 1990, and a Brentwood location followed two years later.
The Brentwood Madison offered an expanded model of the original concept, keeping local celebrity suburbanites such as Michelle Pfeiffer and Kim Basinger in Gucci, Miu Miu and Costume National.
After the partnership dissolved in 1995, the couple introduced the expanded Madison model to Robertson Boulevard, filling a 1,500-square-foot space with carefully curated designer women’s and men’s wear and, of course, shoes. (Their partner assumed control of the Beverly Hills Madison, while the Goldsteins maintained ownership in Brentwood; the Melrose unit was closed as a result of the changing scene along the avenue east of Fairfax.)
Footwear, in fact, is how the pair got their footing in retail — and how they met. As college students in the early Eighties, the two paid the bills working in a Westwood shoe store. She was studying economics at nearby UCLA, he focused on real estate at USC. As post-grads bored with their chosen fields, the Goldsteins returned to their love of fashion. “I would do anything for a favorite pair of shoes when I was growing up,” he remembered. “I always knew what I wanted.”
Life was good, with Emily overseeing the bookkeeping and computerization of the two stores and Mark handling much of the buying and creative end.
Fast forward to 1996, when word came that a Miu Miu flagship was opening on Melrose, west of Fairfax. As news of the fashion renaissance on this stretch of Melrose spread, Goldstein found a 3,725-square-foot building nearby and purchased it, initially as a rental property. But as the buzz grew deafening, it became clear that opening a store of their own could mean higher returns than leasing it out.
“I felt it was Robertson repeating itself,” said Goldstein, noting the rise of the trendy boutique-studded boulevard. So, to avoid overexposure of the Madison name, the new store was called Emma Gold — a play on “Emily” and “Goldstein.”
It also reflects a tweaking of the Madison concept, which over the years has inspired newer competitors in the area.
For Emma Gold, Goldstein worked with his contractor to design a minimalist space filled with solid walnut fixtures, sanded ceiling beams and smooth concrete floors and, in the back, wood walls poured over with concrete. White inlaid ceiling panels float over black insulation. Japanese benches designed by Mike Lee and a rock garden provide a Zenlike modernism.
Goldstein opened Emma Gold’s doors last November with Ann Demeulemeester, Alessandro Dell’Acqua, Michel Perry shoes and Matilde cashmere. In early July, vintage couture from Keni Valenti’s coveted collection was added, as well as Valenti’s own vintage-inspired ready-to-wear.
As a safeguard against an economic slowdown, the Goldsteins are also considering a vertical approach at Emma Gold, by introducing a full signature line that can eventually be wholesaled outside their fledgling empire. Limited private label apparel and shoes, mostly produced in Italy, are already sold through their stores.
“We wouldn’t do anything that would conflict with any of our vendors,” Goldstein emphasized. I want to be prepared, play it smart. If it’s your own schtick, no one can take it away from you.”
The new Madison Malibu will also stock Demeulemeester and Perry, as well as take an interior design cue from Emma Gold. The 1,330-square-foot leased “beach shack” has a lower ceiling, but Goldstein’s signature raw modern minimalism is as evident as his razor-sharp buying.
“It’s far enough from the other Madison stores that it’s not saturation,” Goldstein noted. “We have a big customer base out there already, and I really like the feeling of the Country Mart.”
In Madison tradition, the Malibu edition will introduce Chloe, Earl and Sold to the locals — the entertainment-industry women who shop there, often with a stop at the Coffee Bean and Tea Leaf next door for a pick-me-up.
“To me, Malibu is the home of rock ‘n’ roll,” said Goldstein, “so there will be more of a sexy, rock ‘n’ roll vibe at that Madison.”
Customers shouldn’t expect to find replica stock at all four stores, either. “We’re not putting everything in every store. There are so many designer lines out now, we’re mixing it up a little so everyone could find a new experience in every store.”