Alexander McQueen and Stella McCartney, two hot British fashion designers with brands under the Gucci Group umbrella, will open stores this summer in Manhattan’s meatpacking district. Mr. McQueen’s store will be his first in the United States, and Ms. McCartney’s will be the first anywhere to Carry her name.
Both stores will be in former meatpacking plants on 14th Street, west of Ninth Avenue and a few doors from Jeffrey’s, a designer clothing store that carries their lines as well as such upscale items as Gucci jean jackets priced at $520. Other tenants on the block include the housewares shop Bodum and several art galleries.
In recent years, other boutiques and restaurants have sprung up in the meatpacking district amid late-night bars like Hogs and Heifers and the meat plants that give the neighborhood at the far western edge of Greenwich village its distinctive odor. So far, there are few residents living within the area, and local buisnesses and residents of nearby communites who want to keep it that way are fighting a proposal for a 31-story condominium tower on Washington Street between little West 12th Street and 13th Street.
Despite the influx of small shops, many retailers still consider the area remote and untested as a shopping district, said Robin Abrams a broker with the Lansco Corporation. “For fashion-forward retailers and designers,” she said, “this is making more of a statement than going to SoHo or NoLiTa.”
Jeffery’s prescence will cushion some of the risk, Ms. Abrams said, because that store is looked upon as a destination retailer.
Jeffery Kalinsky, who opened Jeffery’s in 1999, said he welcomed the mcQueen and McCartney stores. “It gives people more reason to come to the neighborhood,” he said.
Proximity to Jeffrey’s was not a consideration in McQueen’s decision to open on West 14th Street, said a spokesman for the designer, who also has stores in Tokyo and London. In a statement, Mr. McQueen said the neighborhood “projects an exciting energy that is unique for New York and totally right for McQueen.” Reviewing his fall collection last month in Paris, Cathy Horyn of the New York Times said it “mixed sweetness with and English Harlot element – Mary Poppins meets Moll Flanders.
Ms. McCartney, the daughter of Paul McCartney and his late wife, Linda, also earned praise at the Paris shows for what Gina Bellafante of the Times described as “some beautifully uncomplicated pieces, like a black satin bathrobe coat articulated with a belt as wide as a bureau drawer.” A spokesman for her company in London said her could not say if Ms. McCartney, a vegetarian, had hesitated over opening a boutique in a neighborhood so closley associated with meat. Neither designer was available for comment.
As retail area go, the meatpacking district is stil a bargain. Annual rents for ground-floor space $60 to $80 a square foot, one third or less than SoHo rates, said Bruce Sinder, the President of Sinvin Realty. His company has leased space in a former furniture warehouse at 13th Street and Ninth Avenue to several tenants, including the chef Jean-Georges Vongerichten, who plans to open a restaurant, Spice Market, on the ground floor. The other tenants include Vitra, a Swiss furniture company, and SoHo House, a members- only hotel that caters to celebrities and people in film and other media.
The Gucci leases – each for 4,000 square feet – were signed in August. Mr. Sinder said the rents had not dropped since Sept. 11. “This is one of the neighborhoods least affected by Sept. 11,” he said, adding that the neighborhood had established a base of customers.
But Mr. Kalinsky said her could not compare sales this month with sales a year ago. “I bought so much less for spring because of Sept. 11,” he said. “I didn’t project the same kind of buisness.”