7. AMERICAN RAG
Location: Los Angeles, San Francisco and Newport Beach, Calif.
Owner: Mark Werts
American Rag has come a long way since its vintage beginnings in the 1980s. In its L.A. flagship, the retailer debuted an expansive denim bar that’s become a reliable barometer on what’s trending in the competitive world of premium jeans. (Earnest Sewn and RRL are among current best sellers.) Men’s buyer James Hammonds has brought an eclectic and refined mix to American Rag’s three California doors, from rising American sportswear labels like Shipley & Halmos to avant-garde stars like Danish designer Henrik Vibskov.
Location: New York
Owners: Nordstrom and Jeffrey Kalinsky
You can both credit and blame (depending on your outlook) Jeffrey Kalinsky for creating the retail and nightlife phenomenon that is New York’s Meatpacking District. Kalinsky altered the landscape of the neighborhood when he opened his luxury fashion emporium there in 1999. Today, the core men’s brands at Jeffrey include Prada, Jil Sander, Gucci, Dries van Noten and Gucci, along with newer additions like Trussardi, Mastermind and Aspesi. Men’s wear comprises about 20 percent of sales at the store. “It’s very hard to be an independent store and compete against the bigger stores. You have to hope that by being yourself and buying what you love, you will create something that is individual and ignites an emotion in people,” says Kalinsky. Of course, he has the best of both worlds: Kalinsky sold a majority stake to Nordstrom and is now executive vice-president of designer merchandising at the mega-retailer—which allows him to oversee buying for both his namesake store and his employer. (There is also a Jeffrey store in Atlanta, but it only sells women’s wear.)
Location: Three stores in Seattle and Portland
Owner: Mario Bisio
With a selection that includes Hugo Boss, Zegna, Prada and Dolce & Gabbana, the two Mario’s flagships are the gold standard of upscale boutiques for men and women in the Pacific Northwest. In 2006, owner Mario Bisio added a third store to the mix: the casual concept Mario’s 3.10, which has a 6,000-square-foot location outside Portland. Mario’s 3.10, which also appears in shop-in-shops in the two Mario’s stores, sells premium denim and designer collections from labels like Paul Smith, John Varvatos and Etro.
Location: New York and Miami
Owner: Sam Ben-Avraham
Best known now as the founder and president of Project Global Tradeshow, Sam Ben-Avraham first made his mark as the proprietor of New York’s enduring Atrium store, which he opened in 1993 in Noho. Situated on a prime stretch of lower Broadway, the 6,500-square-foot store grosses $12 million a year, half of that from men’s wear. Last year a Miami outpost of Atrium bowed, and the 5,400-square-foot unit on Collins Avenue—near chic hotels like the Setai and Shore Club—is expected to pull in about $5 million in sales this year. Top brands at the two stores include Prps, Y-3, J. Lindeberg and Nudie, along with accessories from Tom Ford and Nixon. “Our secret is simple: We always evolve. You have to stay ahead of the curve,” says Ben-Avraham.
Owner: Nicole Miller
The 2,000-square-foot shop in Seattle’s Ballard neighborhood carries a broad array of apparel and accessories from brands like Cheap Monday, Rag & Bone, Acne, Band of Outsiders and Tim Hamilton. It draws in customers via special features, like a recent Unholy Matrimony shop-in-shop, featuring T-shirts and canvas bags designed exclusively for Blackbird. Owner Nicole Miller (not the designer) uses the store’s blog as an effective marketing tool, frequently posting shop news, sales alerts and information about its brands and products
Location: Two stores in Brooklyn and New York
Owners: Louis Terline and Jeff Madalena
The original Oak store was a modest 900-square-foot shop in the hipster enclave of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where founders Louis Terline and Jeff Madalena made a name for themselves with a cool assortment, from names like Filippa K, Spurr and Generra. In January of this year, the duo opened a larger, 1,500-squarefoot shop on Bond Street in downtown Manhattan, and have stocked it with cutting-edge labels such as Raf by Raf Simons, Rick Owens, Bernhard Willhelm, Chronicles of Never, Hyden Yoo and Complex Geometries. A comprehensive e-commerce site has been active since 2007. Additionally, Terline and Madalena wholesale an Oak private-label collection, and also run a multiline showroom business.
Location: Westport and Greenwich, Conn.
Owner: The Mitchell family
The Mitchells have been hugging their customers—and growing an extraordinarily loyal following—for 50 years. Richards of Greenwich, acquired in 1995, accounts for about half of the company’s sales, which total more than $100 million annually. The 27,000-square-foot Greenwich shop, along with the 25,000-square-foot Mitchells of Westport, carries a similar mix of clothing and sportswear for men, represented by high-end vendors like Zegna, Canali, Kiton and Hickey Freeman.
14. LOUIS BOSTON
Owner: Debi Greenberg
Since 1929, this Boston institution has outfitted generations in luxury with fashion-forward flair. Greenberg has brought in innovative, unconventional labels like Marni and Dries van Noten and reconfigured the merchandising in favor of mixing designers and categories. Louis Boston will leave the palatial Newbury Street building it currently leases in 2010, a blow to Boston’s best-known shopping street. Greenberg has said she is considering moving to the Seaport District or the South End. Wherever the store goes, it will bring tremendous cachet to its environs.
Location: 40 around the country
Owner: Macy’s Inc.
The recent star performer within Macy’s Inc., Bloomingdale’s has continued to make strides with its focus on the bridge customer. The chain raised the bar four years ago with its smaller, contemporary-skewed Soho store—now set for an expanded rollout to other markets—as well as its revamped No. 59 Metro shop of premium denim and sportswear, and a reenergized tailored clothing department that debuted this year.
7. AMERICAN RAG