Khaite has landed in New York City.
The brand, which launched in 2016 and has steadily been gaining buzz since, most recently with a CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year award for founder Catherine Holstein, opened its first retail store in in Soho this week.
On Sunday, Khaite used the store as a setting to stage a runway show for its Autumn/Winter 2023 collection to a small group of guests, including “The White Lotus” actress Meghann Fahy, model Karlie Kloss and “Saturday Night Live” comedian Chloe Fineman.
“This store was developed to create context for the brand,” said Holstein. “We’ve never had that before. We’ve always been at the mercy of a wholesaler or the dot com, which is not a tactile experience.”
The 4,000-square-foot shop, which sits on Mercer Street between Houston and Prince streets, was designed by architect Griffin Frazen — who is also Holstein’s husband. It’s a sleek space done in tones of grey cement, concrete and plaster, with imposing curved half-walls separating the store’s first room. Clothing racks are sparsely populated with pieces from the brand’s assortment. (One of each item is displayed on the floor, with more options and sizes held in a stock room downstairs.) The back features a live tree growing out of the stone-covered ground, with a skylight above it. A thin artificial light that runs throughout the length of the store’s ceiling is meant to mimic the sun outside, and will darken as the day goes on.
It is also filled with small touches: music plays throughout, but in certain areas of the store, there’s additional sound layered on top to add to the experience, like white noise, or the sound of birds chirping. A circular room in the back is designed to create an echo. The dressing rooms are designed to provide a contrast from the grey appearance of the rest of the store and are done in a bold red with a different soundtrack playing inside. Large mirrors taking up the vast majority of one of the walls and a plush red carpet sits on the ground in order to create a more intimate experience, said a brand spokesperson.
Holstein was drawn to the Soho location from her own experiences in the city; the brand’s first design studio was located nearby. She also appreciated its varied history as the site of a bootleg ring in the 1930s and apparel factories in the early 20th century, as well as its proximity to historic artist watering holes like the Fanelli Cafe.
Coming off of Holstein’s CFDA win as well as the store opening, the company, which is co-owned by brand incubator Assembled Brands, is eyeing future growth. It also rolled out its first eyewear collection in collaboration with Oliver Peoples this week, and plans to open 10 stores over the next five years. Its Autumn/Winter 2023 collection, which was filled with shearling and leather as well as the sleek silhouettes that brand is known for, also illustrated how the brand is looking forward, said Holstein.
“It felt like a new chapter for the company,” she added. “We always talked about strength, this first round was all about strength. Now, I really graduated to saying ‘power.’ That’s what this is really about, this is a power woman. It’s a little bit of a step up, a little bit more sophisticated.”
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