Rachel Comey has had the sort of quiet success that many fashion designers only dream about.
Her eclectic, vintage-inspired pieces have earned her a loyal following of the coolest girls around — Maggie Gyllenhaal, Zosia Mamet and Rashida Jones are fans — and she has a booming wholesale business, counting world-renowned stores like Barneys, Opening Ceremony and Bergdorf Goodman as clients. In addition, she has the clout (and the confidence) to go against the grain when it comes to the Fashion Week spectacle, and instead of holding the standard runway show, she opts for a cozy dinner and presentation among her friends and peers.
Now, after 14 years in business, Comey has reached another milestone: The opening of her very first retail space on a cobblestoned block of Crosby Street in downtown New York, just steps away from the place she and her family call home (and just five blocks from her design studio).
“It was such a long time coming,” Comey told us before cutting the ribbon to officially open her store. “I think I suddenly wanted to find an environment for the collection, and when the space became available it just seemed like the right time.”
In anticipation, Comey hung a tongue-in-cheek flag from the storefront with the names of a few of her neighbors — chain businesses SoulCycle, Jamba Juice and Duane Reade — crossed out in spray paint, but it wasn’t meant to send an antagonistic message. “It was a more about us being so slow to embrace a flagship finally, when all of these other businesses do it with such ease.”
Comey, who has lived and worked in the same neighborhood for years, particularly likes the “back alley” feel of her Crosby Street location, and considers the area the crossroads of all of downtown. “There are so many types of people and action and activity that I’ve always been drawn to,” she says. “It made it feel to me like if you’re going to live in the city, if you’re lucky enough to find a sublet of a sublet of a sublet of a sublet in the area, you just have to.”
Since the designer tends to opt for intimate gatherings as opposed fashion shows to present her collections, she hopes that the space — which is primarily made from modest materials like concrete, wood and stone — will become a place where she, her friends and her customers can enjoy passing the time. “I was hoping that the experience of coming here would be somewhat enriching, so I was thinking about that when we designed the space,” she explained. “I was trying to create a backdrop so that anything could happen.”
Visit the new Rachel Comey flagship store at 95 Crosby Street in New York City.