The pandemic has led to another retail casualty.
Rowing Blazers, the buzzy preppy-inspired brand, has made the decision to shutter its New York City flagship on Grand Street after a successful three-year run.
Jack Carlson, the founder and creative director of the brand, said the lease is coming to an end this month and he decided not to renew.
“We started this as a short-term pop-up in June of 2018,” he said. “We expected to be there three months and get out in September. But we liked being there and went onto a month-by-month arrangement. Then in February of 2019, we signed a two-year lease and that’s coming to an end.”
He said he “went back-and-forth with the landlord and internally, and with everything going on with COVID-19, it doesn’t make sense to keep the store.”
Rowing Blazers sent out an email Wednesday afternoon to customers and followers that read: Goodbye Grand Street, but stressed: “Rowing Blazers as a brand is not going anywhere and doing better than ever. Our online store and our L.A. Embassy at Fred Segal on Sunset are open for business as usual. We have plans for pop-ups and a new home when life starts to return to normal.”
Carlson reiterated that in a telephone interview. “The store was a place where people hung out and we had great parties and events. Having people wait outside, be let in and then get pressured to leave so others can come in is not the vibe we want to have.”
In addition, Carlson said over the past year, Rowing Blazers’ online business has “exploded.” In a story on Morning Brew that revealed the ranking of the year’s 15 fastest-growing direct-to-consumers by web traffic from SimilarWeb, Rowing Blazers ranked eighth with growth of 346 percent. Peloton was 15th. And in the company’s list of 100 Fastest Growing Online Brands, Rowing Blazers ranked fourth in the apparel category.
“As a result of our e-commerce growing so much, we basically pulled out of wholesale and it makes sense for us to focus our efforts there,” Carlson said.
“So it’s sad, because I really loved that store, but we will open a new brick-and-mortar presence in New York at some point — it might be later this year or next year — and we’re also planning a couple of pop-ups, including one in London.” But until life returns to normal, those plans are “on standby,” he said.
Carlson, an author and the former coxswain on the American rowing team that represented the U.S. at three world championships, created Rowing Blazers in 2017. The brand, which has become popular with celebrities such as Timothée Chalamet, Dwyane Wade and Russell Westbrook, drew on his experience researching blazers for the world’s leading rowing clubs and collegiate teams. In the past three years the company has also made its mark with a bevy of limited-edition capsules and collaborations with everyone from Lands’ End and Sperry to J. Crew, United Arrows, Fila and Beams. And in October, the brand expanded into women’s wear with a collection inspired by Princess Diana.