Commercial Real Estate & Advisory

James Perse to Separate the Sexes

By Sharon Edelson | August 10, 2006

WWD ThursdayNEW YORK – When James Perse opened his eponymous boutique at 411 Bleecker Street here last year, he had trouble squeezing his men’s and women’s collections into the roughly 800-square-foot space. Come late November, the sexes will no longer cohabitate.

Perse is planning to open his first store devoted to men’s wear at 361 Bleecker Street. Removing men’s from the original store’s equation will free up space to develop new categories for women.

“The women’s product line in that store is very edited compared with the larger shops,” Perse said. “This move allows us to expand the women’s product offerings.”

Perse designed an extensive sweater and knit collection for fall, which will be featured in a shop-within-a-shop at 411 Bleecker Street, which does sales of $2,800 per square foot, according to the designer. A line of handbags and shoes is in the works.
Perse, who is known for his T-shirts in supersoft fabrics and body-slimming fits, is moving away from the wardrobe staple.
“The dress category has been explosive,” he said. “Shirts and blouses have been tremendous for us. Khaki, twill and canvas pants have started to take off. I spent 10 years of my career building a very focused product category. The T-shirt piece of our business is shrinking.”
Men’s wear is by no means contracting. It will account for 45 percent of the company’s estimated $50 million in sales for 2006, said Perse, who plans to open more men’s-only units. “I think a men’s store has always been missing from the market,” he said. “Of course, you have the better department and specialty stores. As far as boutiques, there aren’t a lot of neighborhood shops for men.”
The 800-square-foot men’s store will have a masculine color palette and architecture. Service will have more in common with fine hotels than other apparel chains, Perse said.

In addition to the new Bleecker Street unit, Perse is opening a concept store in Brentwood, Calif., devoted to travel. A third store is in the works, but Perse declined to disclose the location.

Christopher Owles, managing Director of Sinvin Realty, represented Perse. The landlord’s broker was Sinvin managing director Michelle Stone.