NEW YORK – Watch out for Wooster Street – there’s a new kid on the block.
On Friday, Christian Cowan opens the doors to its first flagship store in SoHo, in partnership with Smashbox Cosmetics and Square.
“It’s so wild. I can’t believe less than two years ago we were working from home, not knowing what was going on in the world, and now we have a huge store,” he said over the phone from the site. , under construction at multi-level space. “The dusty pink carpet comes down on Wednesday,” he exclaimed.
Although still a relatively young label (his eponymous label was founded after graduating from Central Saint Martens and the London College of Fashion in 2016), Cowan has had his sights set on the brick and mortar; he dreamed of it during his adolescence. The COVID-19 outbreak has pushed back the timelines, but after seeing his brand, team, and sales multiply out of the pandemic, Cowan thought, “Let’s capsize right now.
“I really felt the brand lacked that touchpoint with our consumers, where they can really see and understand who our brand and our world is outside of fashion week,” he explained. The fall collection fashion party has reached new heights on the 102nd floor of the One World Observatory. “I think there’s this big comeback to buying fabulous things in stores. People want to dress up, they want to have fun, but when you buy something special you want to be able to come in and try it.
Cowan visited a myriad of locations in New York, noting that it was important for the space to have a soul, before signing the lease two months ago.
“While online direct-to-consumer selling is fun, it’s a bit soulless no matter how cute your website is. So for me, it really had to have the brand personality coming through.
Seeing the empty, two-level 5,000 square foot retail space at 76 Wooster Street, Cowan found his footing – describing the space as “a club in terms of quirky features, and very SoHo, New York – not a sterile box. I feel so honored to be in the company of Moschino, Celine and Gucci – it’s crazy to see my name there now.
The creative energy Cowan felt in the multi-storey building only deepened when he learned of its history. The former “three-story converted stable” served as Grace Jones’ La Vie en Rose restaurant in the mid-1980s, as well as an art space frequented by Andy Warhol, Jean-Michel Basquiat, Keith Haring and Julian Schnabel , also hosting Yoko Ono’s “Gimme Some Truth, The Arkwork of John Lennon” exhibition in October 2011 before becoming the Soho Arts Club.
“I’m trying to pay homage to the club and the queer history of this building, and to us too while taking it to a high point, it’s our first brick and mortar to show that we’re getting more serious strength in ready-to-wear,” Cowan said, noting that his glamorous, nightlife-inspired brand DNA also had a direct influence on the store’s design. “It’s about converting our brand DNA so it’s festive and fun, but also stays chic and luxurious, not over the top for camping, but an elevated hold to camp in. It has dusty pink floors, a giant floating square setup that spans two floors with pampas grass and models wearing the looks; to give a nod to the space and history of his club, there’s a fully carpeted go-go dance booth. ”
The space now outfitted in dusty pink and white – with the first-floor exterior painted to match – “is a real home for Christian Cowan.” The location will not only house Cowan’s explosive, shimmering and upbeat apparel (including runway collections and its new Essentials lineas well as dog sweaters, accessories and upcoming collaborative projects) as well as the brand’s relocated workshop and offices (formerly located on the Lower East Side).
The designer added that the store opening “sets the tone for additional announcements, celebrating the expansion of the Christian Cowan brand, to be made later this year.”
“You can really see beyond the atelier when you’re shopping. I’m excited to be able to go out, see the customer, ask them what they’re looking for in their clothes, help them choose what they want As we grow as an rtw brand that is stored elsewhere and more and more developed, it’s fun to be able to have that direct line to whoever buys it,” Cowan said, adding, “I will arrange private appointments where I will help design the wedding dresses and more. It’s a living room in that the atelier is downstairs, clients can come down and try on the fabrics. I want it to be more than a soulless retail outlet, and more an intuitive experience with the design house.”
Going beyond the traditional retail environment, Cowan partnered with Square and Smashbox Cosmetics to bring the space to life. The importance of organic integrations was noted as being of utmost importance to Cowan.
“The past two years have been tough for retailers of all types and sizes. As businesses begin to rebuild and look to the future, we are focused on creating solutions that can fuel their growth,” said Roshan Jhunja, head of retail at Square, whose outlet in retail will feed the store. “We are honored to support innovative sellers like Christian Cowan. Ultimately, our goal is to help business owners like him spend less time on the back-end and more doing what they love: designing, creating, and connecting with customers.
A mutual friendship and symbiotic energy between Cowan and Smashbox Cosmetics kicked off their partnership last year – the beauty company sponsored the designer’s Spring 2022 and Fall 2022 shows. When Cowan approached Smashbox Cosmetics with the idea and retail location a few months ago, the company’s global brand president, Glenn Evans, told WWD it was a “no brainer.” “.
Since then, the companies “have been working together hard to bring it to life”, Evans said, adding: “WWe are studio-born brands that tell similar stories. Smashbox is studio tested and lifestyle approved; Christian Cowan merges the track and real life.
“I think Christian Cowan rtw and makeup go hand in hand. We’re super, super expressive and fun, everyone can be themselves, so makeup was the natural trajectory for us,” Cowan said. i love so much about Smashbox, it’s not only their amazing makeup that can last through a party – which i’m all here for – but also they have that photo studio DNA, that designer collaborative effort DNA . They come to space and have scheduled events together like makeup masterclasses.
“It’s been a collaboration between us – everyone was involved in every detail to put it together, a true working partnership. The two teams worked together on the designs – everything from window treatments to floor plans. floor and how Smashbox will appear in the space. We wanted to make sure that our studio legacy came to life and that we could represent the brand in a way that not only shows where we come from, but how it relates to our brand today and is represented in the market,” echoed Evans, adding that the brick and mortar partnership is the first of its kind for the brand.
Both floors of the retail space feature beauty stations and immersive, industrial-grade Smashbox Cosmetics product portals, with Smashbox Pro Artists on hand to offer cosmetic consultations. Not only will customers be able to test out the beauty brand’s products (including core collections and cult favorites, like Screen Print Primers, Halo Tinted Mositurizer, Under Eye Brightening Corrector, Smashbox x Becca Shimmering Skin Perfector Pressed Highlighter, new product launches and more), plus shop locally with free next day delivery via smashbox.com. Additionally, Smashbox Cosmetics will offer a selection of services ranging from VIP events to consumer experiences and activations.
“I want it to be the experience where you come to buy a fabulous dress or shirt – whatever it is – and you wonder what the look should be – there will be professional makeup artists waiting for you. If you have an event, you can come in, get dressed, put on makeup and leave. It’s our one stop shop for a good time,” Cowan said.
Store hours are Wednesday through Saturday 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 11 a.m. to 6 p.m.
Additionally, the designer is donating 50% of all proceeds from the store’s Grand Opening Week sales to Care.org.
“I think it’s weird to open a fancy store, in a fancy part of town, and pretend nothing’s going on in the world – there’s a serious war going on somewhere else,” Cowan explained. . “I have Ukrainian friends that I grew up with and in New York – I hear their stories, it’s absolutely heartbreaking. Where I’m not a huge conglomerate, what we can do is offer a big part of our profit, at least for the first week. I don’t want this to be the end, I want to do more in the coming months but this is the starting point. I think any brand, that whether big or small, should always be doing something.