Avant-garde retailer Comme des Garçons is hoping its relentlessly hip customers navigate through some squares when it opens in mainstream Murray Hill in December 2013.
The company announced that it signed a long-term lease at 160 Lexington Avenue, which will house Dover Street Market, a 21,700-square foot, seven-story retail extravaganza stocking Comme des Garçons–and like-minded labels it selects–that is modeled after the original DSM in London’s Mayfair district. (There’s another branch in Tokyo’s upscale Ginza area.)
Newmark Grubb Knight Frank announced in February 2010 that Howard J. Kesseler, Barry Berkowitz and Jordan Gosin were representing the building, the former site of Touro College.
Lexington Avenue in the 30s is well off the map of forward-thinking New York shoppers, as Comme des Garçons designer Rei Kawakubo and her husband/business partner Adrianne Joffe acknowledged when they revealed the new space. “[We wanted] a neighborhood where there are no other fashion stores so that we can give a totally new identity and hence transform the area,” Mr. Joffe told WWD.
As Frank Gargione energetically wrote on Racked, the couple got what they wished for. The neighborhood is a nebulous gray zone between Murray Hill and Kips Bay replete with Curry Hill’s no-frills Indian restaurants to the south and frozen yogurt shops catering to the location’s notorious concentration of recent college grads to the north. Comme des Garçons had been among the first wave of stylish retailers to break into Chelsea and Soho, but those neighborhoods were already bursting with artists, galleries and those seeking the next big thing.
A source familiar with the project said Comme des Garçons would stick close to the London store’s formula of stocking household name designers like Alexander McQueen and Jil Sander beside upstart lines including Erdem and Simone Rocha. The source added that given the company’s track record of defining rather than following the trends, a mismatched location was not seen as a threat to such a noteworthy retail development’s success.
While wealthy Mayfair has a starchy reputation, Mr. Gargione points out the Viviene Westwood and Moschino stores fall practically within reach of the original DSM. The Lexington Avenue DSM will have to lure downtown and North Brooklyn types out of their comfort zones with goods by Ann Demeulemeester, egg and Rick Owens or bank on spillover foot traffic from the increasingly desirable NoMad neighborhood to the west unless locals opt for a dramatic uniform overhaul.