Beth Buccini is bringing Kirna Zabête beyond New York City with two stores. A seasonal outpost of the women’s designer retailer is opening Friday in East Hampton, N.Y., and a permanent store will open in November in Bryn Mawr, Pa., on Philadelphia’s Main Line.
Kirna Zabête has been a retail fixture in New York’s SoHo neighborhood since Buccini and her friend and longtime partner Sarah Easley first opened the original store on Greene Street in 1999, moving to a larger space on Broome Street in 2013. After 17 years running the business together, in January Buccini bought out Easley’s equity stake.
“Sarah and I were trying to figure out what we were going to do with the business,” said Buccini. “It was my goal to move forward and open more stores and really grow the e-commerce business. That’s exactly what I’ve been doing for the past six months.”
The East Hampton seasonal store has come together rather quickly. Buccini scouted the space and signed the lease on what was formerly Gail Rothwell’s store at 66 Newtown Lane over Memorial Day weekend. Buccini owns a home in nearby Amagansett and knows the shopping patterns of the local customer after holding several one-day pop-ups in summers past. “They were hugely successful,” she said of the pop-ups. “I found that women really had a hunger to shop when they’re out there the entire summer. They’re looking for cute clothes to wear out that night and also trying to get organized for fall.”
In a little more than a month after signing the lease for the store, which will be open through Sept. 15, Buccini worked with interior designer Michelle Bergeron to tweak the space, painting it with the signature Kirna Zabête red of the SoHo store while creating something “cheerful and beachy and happy.” As for securing merchandise for an entirely new store on such short notice, Buccini said she had her bases covered between immediate orders and fall merchandise before she signed the lease.
“The fall merchandise has been pouring in and our customer is really [in the Hamptons] in the summer,” she said. “We do a significantly large buy because we also do e-commerce. It’s all of the same inventory — we’ll still keep the New York store fully in tact.”
Lines Kirna Zabête will carry in East Hampton include Céline, Alaïa, Gucci, Fendi, Vetements, Rosie Assoulin and Off-White, as well as beachier fare like Lisa Marie Fernandez and Marysia.
The Bryn Mawr store is a bigger, more strategic commitment. Buccini moved her family to the Main Line area five years ago. “I’ve been observing the fashion and I found women are hungry for new ideas and excited about fashion and they’re really underserved,” she said. “I really went deep into the demographics in the area. There are so many universities and private schools all around, and really the only game in town is the mall.”
Soon after Buccini bought out Easley’s stake, she began scouting locations in the Main Line. The store will open in Bryn Mawr Village, a new development catering toward a high-end clientele, at 915 West Lancaster Avenue, Suite 170. Kirna Zabête took a 3,200-square-foot space in a former garage. Its neighbors include La Colombe coffee shop and an Italian wine bar, Tredici, owned by Philadelphia restauranteur Greg Dodge. Buccini said the store’s competition will be Neiman Marcus in King of Prussia, and Saks Fifth Avenue in Bala Cynwyd.
Interior designer Steven Gambrel, who also designed Kirna Zabête’s New York stores, will design the Bryn Mawr location. “It’s going to be very similar to what the New York store looks like but a little bit lighter and softer,” said Buccini. She plans to open the store with resort collections from brands including Céline, Chloé, Stella McCartney, Rosie Assoulin, Proenza Schouler, Gianvito Rossi and Aquazzura, as well as a casual element represented by Golden Goose, Off-White, Piamita and R13.
Buccini declined to discuss sales figures but said Kirna Zabête’s e-commerce has grown dramatically and the store is up 12 percent overall for the year. Buccini is Kirna Zabête’s sole owner and has not taken on any investment for the two new stores. “I feel like it’s really a time for specialty stores,” she said. “Women want something unique and interesting and personal. In a world where everything has gotten so mass, I’m hoping we’re catering to this customer and reaching her in markets where there’s untapped potential.”