When designers and friends Amanda Lurie and Gina Esposito surveyed New York’s retail scene, they saw few independent stores to shop and even fewer places for the independent brands they loved to sell their goods.
Esposito has designed her label of minimalist swim and activewear, Nu Swim, since 2015. Lurie launched COA, short for Coming of Age — a line of handbags, and increasingly shoes, clothes and other small accessories — in 2019. Both are indie hits, beloved by stylists, gallerists and other creative types. But as the odds of surviving by selling to small stores dwindled, Lurie and Esposito saw having a store of their own as an appealing workaround.
So into business together they went. Today their boutique Tangerine opens in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, giving a platform for each of their individual brands as well as many others that they know and love. Located on a sunny corner at 616 Lorimer Street, Tangerine was designed with a certain level of nonchalance, envisioned as a neighborhood hangout to peruse between running errands, more or less playing to the way that many urbanites live their lives today.
By catching Brooklynites where they live, rather than areas where people deliberately go to shop, Esposito hopes Tangerine will become part of people’s routine. “It’s so much more local here — this is where people go for a walk or do laundry — they are really living and hanging out. It’s such a comfortable environment to be in and not like going to a trendy area where you’d usually go to shop,” said Esposito, who like Lurie, lives close by to Tangerine. Prior, the space was their local wine store — which has since moved across the street.
Lurie added that she set out to create a space that “people feel comfortable in, not a store where people are afraid to touch things or hang out. Our counter has stools where we can make you an espresso. There are magazines to read, we will have a New York Times subscription and benches outside for people to sit and read. We want to do events with different artists and just showcase different brands.”
While the gallery-like space’s shelves are flush with Nu Swim’s signature bikinis and COA’s silk taffeta gingham bags, they also feature some of New York’s most promising up-and-coming labels. There are leather link totes from SC103, which have become something of an underground “It” bag, hand-knit sweater vests by Rachel Witus, hair clips and hand-painted tights by Emily Dawn Long and silk pants from Tigra Tigra.
But Tangerine is not only a fashion boutique. The store has an assortment of vintage books curated by archivist Camille Brown; there is glassware by Ichendorf and ceramics by Soft Edge Studio and Laura Chautin; there’s select pantry goods as well, including artisanal vinegars by Tart — known for its unique recipes made from rose petals, celery or kombu.
The back of the store has been partitioned to become Esposito’s studio space, and so Tangerine will be open from Thursday through Sunday with appointments readily available on the days in-between. Both she and Lurie are aiming to get an e-commerce component up-and-running by the holiday times. Which plays back to the store’s name, which Lurie said was chosen because “We felt inclined toward a fruit or vegetable and tangerine is a fruit that gives you an influx of summer feeling in the winter. That idea kind of just stuck.”