NEW YORK — With help from Debi Greenberg, the former owner of Louis Boston, Denise Williamson is adding retail to her arsenal.
Since 1998, Williamson has provided brands including Public School, Visvim and Rag & Bone with public relations, marketing and retail distribution services through her Williamson agency. Now she’s expanding on that effort with 180, a 5,000-square-foot space in TriBeCa here that includes the Williamson offices along with a street-facing floor that will be used for retail pop-ups, presentations, installations and events. The airy building, which features a skylight in the back and 16-foot ceilings, is located at 180 Duane Street. It used to be home to a cheese and dairy distributor.
“We want to do more for the brands we believe in,” said Williamson, who used to be headquartered in SoHo. “Now we can have a direct relationship with customers and gather feedback, which I feel is still very important these days.”
According to Williamson, Greenberg will not be based in New York and won’t be involved on a day-to-day basis, but she will provide insight about working with luxury consumers, brand curation and growth.
“I still believe that personal interactions with customers remains the most important aspect of success in fashion and in any business. That is why we created 180,” Greenberg said.
Greenberg’s grandfather Saul Pearlstein opened Louis in 1929 with her great-uncle as a high-end men’s store. Greenberg’s father, Murray Pearlstein, started to run the store in 1950 — men’s wear designer Joseph Abboud worked under Murray as a sales associate — and in 2003 Greenberg took the reins. Much like her father, who brought in brands including Giorgio Armani before they became luxury staples, Greenberg has helped introduce lines including Marni, Dries Van Noten and Jacquemus to the North American market.
But at the start of last year Greenberg decided to close the 86-year-old Boston institution, which she moved from its Back Bay location to Fan Pier, a developing waterfront neighborhood, in 2010. The developer wanted to build on the shop and offered Greenberg a new space, but she didn’t want to commit to a long-term lease and opted for retirement.
Williamson said the 180 space won’t be limited to her own clients and she believes it will allow brands to test design direction and display their collections the way they want, which they can’t always do when working within retailers’ budgets.
So far the shop has been used for a Visvim installation and Japanese label Kolor’s first presentation in North America. Williamson said she can provide a trained sales staff, or brands can use their own.
“I think consumers do want to have an experience and see new and exciting things,” Williamson said. “For us, what’s important is finding those great brands worldwide and telling their story.”