Stuart Newmark, the longtime general manager of the now-shuttered men’s retailer Carroll & Co., has created a new customization concept within existing retailer Avedon in Beverly Hills with the help of senior buyer and partner in the business Nancy Herrera.
Newmark, who served as general manager of Carroll & Co. for more than 30 years, teamed with Avedon owners Reza Shekarchian and Yasmine Farmanara on a lounge concept called Bespoke at Avedon. The deal merges his buying prowess with that of Shekarchian to merchandise the men’s store.
Carroll & Co. began a store closing sale late last year, shuttering its doors for good after the Carroll family received an offer they couldn’t refuse on the building the retailer occupied. Carroll & Co. had long been a mainstay in Beverly Hills, once frequented by high-profile A-listers such as Frank Sinatra, Cary Grant and Jack Lemmon.
Newmark, still seeing a demand for customization and luxury men’s brands, spotted a hole in the market with Carroll & Co.’s closure.
“It’s still viable. We had a huge custom business, which is also a big part of what I’m doing here, along with carrying inventory similar to what we did there,” said Newmark, who was hired in 1989 by Carroll & Co. founder Dick Carroll.
Carroll & Co., at the time of Newmark’s hiring, had a section within its store geared toward the younger consumer. The business was stagnant at the time, but Newmark said he revived it and a year later was named the store’s general manager.
The timing of Carroll & Co.’s closure worked with the shifts taking place at Avedon, which has been in business for more than 30 years. Avedon’s owners, at the time, decided to phase out its women’s business to focus solely on men’s wear in the 3,000-square-foot space.
Newmark has seen plenty over the decades, making him adept at navigating the trends and the shifting business landscape.
Custom is now where the growth is, he noted. While men still wear suits, the ones coming to buy are those who don’t mind waiting four to six weeks for something custom. Sport coats are less structured and softer, giving off a more casual look.
There’s also the competition from a number of digitally native brands looking to offer suits to a younger consumer at a fraction of the price.
“It eats into the pie in the sense that it makes it a little bit harder to get new customers,” Newmark said. “A younger guy who is more prone to go online, who is more prone to research these things, who is not ready to spend $1,000 and up on a suit, they’ll either go to Men’s Wearhouse or they’ll look online. So, in that sense, it does affect business, whether it’s start-ups or whether it’s an online business. I’m amazed how many there are and I don’t know how they survive. A lot of them have a lot of money behind them and, God bless them, but it’s a different cup of tea here totally.”
Consolidation in the industry will persist, Newmark said, noting how in the past there used to be a dozen independent men’s stores in Beverly Hills. Even as the segment contracts, Newmark and Avedon are banking that one-on-one, personalized service will continue to win people over.
“We offer all the services that are important in order for people to appreciate what you do and that’s who we are,” he said. “I learned that over the years from Dick Carroll primarily. He taught me a lot of the principles of the business, one of which is to know when to stop. In other words, to know when to say to a customer, ‘That’s not right. You don’t need that.’ This business is about developing relationships so people have confidence in what you do.”