Frances Valentine is getting more comfortable in its Madison Avenue pop-up store.
What was supposed to be a three-month holiday run has turned into a six-month stay at 793 Madison Avenue. The partially preppy, stylish accessories label has extended its lease through April. During a preview of the Frances Valentine pre-fall collection, chief executive officer Elyce Arons spoke about shoppers’ reaction to the 850-square-foot space and the shifting retail landscape.
“With so many storefronts closing up there, we were a little nervous about going in anywhere. But the community around the store has embraced us and said, ‘We’re so happy you’re here’ because it’s such a bright spot on the corner and the product is so colorful. And the tourists have come. They’re read about it and they’re searching us out,” she said.
With two window banks, the East 67th Street corner shop offers shots of colors to passersby. Red patent bags retailing from $295 to $385 have been bestsellers, and light blue ones have been even stronger, according to Arons. Shoppers are also interested in green and yellow items, she said. Racing stripe bags made out of boarskin leather and green and pink Nantucket plaid bags are also doing well, Arons said. In-store shoppers are also buying jewelry and shoes, though the latter has been edited down.
Some shoppers are seeking out the company’s first retail outpost, due to its cofounder Kate Spade, who took her life last year. Having received numerous e-mails and handwritten notes about Spade, Frances Valentine executives placed a book in the uptown store for shoppers to pen notes to her family or to share memories about their first Kate Spade-designed bags. Arons said, “People kept coming in and wanting to connect with Katy. That was a way for them to do that.”
Although Frances Valentine offers a sparse amount of clothing, a vintage Love, Katy sweater has nearly sold out, Arons said. The label’s $245 caftans “are really starting to fly out,” as people get ready for their winter vacations and spring breaks, she added. A $245 costume jewelry necklace that was inspired by one made in India that Spade gave to Arons as a gift has also sold out. Those sales were spurred on after Arons wore one a few weeks ago for a “Today” show appearance with “Marvelous Mrs. Maisel” actress Rachel Brosnahan, who is Spade’s niece and the brand’s ambassador. And Frances Valentine may open other pop-up shops, since they are good way for customers to try on shoes or hold and feel a bag before they buy it, Arons said. “For any company right now, it’s kind of scary to commit to full-on retail for a long period of time. I think it will level out at some point, but it’s a whole new economy now.”