It’s located on the eighth floor and there’s no sign outside, but Lafayette 148 can’t keep shoppers away from its new store, reports Eric Wilson in The New York Times (9/19/13). The women’s wear company had "several stores in the New York area in the 1990s," however its focus for the past decade has been "on its department-store business and its own online and catalog sales." That didn’t stop customers from showing up at their SoHo offices – at, yes, 148 Lafayette Street – "looking for a store." So, it opened one.
The idea was "to create the kind of environment that is not possible in a traditional department store, with a full range of sizes, including petites and plus sizes, categories that have largely been dropped by Manhattan retailers. The store … is an experiment for customers as much as it is a showcase for the retailers who shop the line there. In this setting, Lafayette 148 can present the line as it would want, showing luxury items and jewelry and calfskin totes, even custom evening dresses, not just the $248 white shirts in stretch cotton for which it is known."
"Rather than opening in every mall in America, we wanted to find our own path," says Paul Lechlinski, the company’s vice president for retail services. At least some of the items on display are perhaps too unusual for a department store, "but the company can produce them in limited quantities in as little as three weeks." It’s also an advantage that the goods are sold in the same building where they’re designed, because alterations "can be handled by the original patternmaker downstairs." Lafayette 148 is open weekdays and by appointment.