Khaite opens first flagship store in Soho
Mercer Street is again about to become a Mecca for the fashion flock. For those still mourning the loss of the Marc Jacobs store there, a new spot might help their fashion grief. Situated next door to the former flagship at 165 Mercer Street, the new Khaite store is the first flagship for the buzzy brand from the 2022 CFDA Womenswear Designer of the Year award winner Catherine Holstein. The sleek and moody store, which is in a historic 1871 cast-iron building, was designed by architect Griffin Frazen, who is also Holstein's husband.
The 4,000-square-foot space at 165 Mercer Street has sleek industrial components such as concrete and distressed steel slabs but also features a live evergreen tree (Bucida buceras), referred to as the 'Shady Lady', planted in the back corner. The space, which was most recently a parking garage, came with two skylights that have been incorporated into the design. The tree sits underneath one, while the other highlights a small circular enclave that houses a curved clothing rack around the perimeter of the walls. The shape mimics the other circular walled spaces that contain the clothing racks.
The existing light sources informed linear lighting fixtures throughout the store that mimics the sun's pattern; the most compelling is the stream that starts at the entrance and extends to the back of the store. Natural light also peeks through a sliver on a south wall, creating drama and shadow in the dark grey space. The ground floor selling space's 18-foot ceilings add to the visual intrigue. An additional 3,000-square-foot basement contains back-of-house operations and a private meeting space.
"The design was conceived in terms of material—choosing the right materials and working with them in the right way to satisfy the programmatic requirements," said Frazen. "We leaned into elemental qualities like natural light, preserving the scale and openness while creating intimate spaces."
The additional ambiance is created by monastic music on the selling floor, which changes to lyrical instrumental music in the entirely red dressing rooms with mood lighting, which might not be conducive to trying on garments. Additional soundscapes such as birds chirping, whispers, and white noise are also piped through in various spots. Custom-designed chairs by Japanese artist Shiro Kuramata feature swooping chrome frames and steel-wire mesh.
The designer acknowledged her affinity for the location in a release, "To open our first store in Soho is a dream come true," said creative director, Catherine Holstein. "Every element of Khaite is shaped by New York, and we set out to make this space a tribute to the cultural legacy of Soho. When I moved to New York twenty years ago, this block of Mercer was my entry point to the city, and Soho is where Khaite was born. Our first design studio was just down the street."
The fully dedicated space to house the collection highlights the expanding accessories offerings, such as the popular Olivia satchel bag in various materials and sizes. A dedicated shoe enclave highlights the brand's successful May Janes and high boot styles. The resort 2022 collection features crystals on the accessories and is plentiful. The motif extended into ready-to-wear for spring 2023, where the crystals appeared on a jacket recently worn by Rihanna and also on offer.
Helping guide clients through the store is veteran retail director Peter Phan. It's a homecoming for Phan, who also ran the former Marc Jacobs store at 163 Mercer and worked for Armani in the downtown shopping area. Most recently, he was with Dior. Phan demonstrates the brand's versatility by outfitting himself in Khaite, though he looks forward to the day the brand has a proper men's offering. He is not alone in that sentiment.
The store opened officially on February 16 and is open Monday through Saturday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday from 12 p.m. to 6 p.m.
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