Many deem summer a slow and stagnant season for the retail sphere, but beloved Brooklyn boutique chain Bird is spinning that generalization on its head. On Wednesday, the shop launched its very first line of summer dresses, exclusive to Bird boutiques and ShopBird.com.
Containing five dress silhouettes and 12 fabrics, the capsule collection is every bit as versatile, breezy and perfectly quirky as you’d expect. Its price points remain consistent with Bird’s contemporary track record, with tunics, shifts and frocks ranging from $295 to $345. And while a majority of the retailer’s competitors likely launched their respective summer lines in March or April, it’s today’s date — late, late June — that differentiates this collection from the rest of the market. The store’s longtime owner, Jen Mankins, told me over the phone this was intentional.
“I heard from my customers that come into the store in May and June and want sunglasses, not fur coats,” said Mankins. “We put out items that will resonate with customers at the time, so people aren’t buying [the dress line] six months in advance. It’s not how I see my customers budgeting or spending their money.”
Mankins went on to describe just how entirely calculated this line has been — namely, how 14 tangible pieces originated from one swatch of summery cloth. “I had found this Indian Madras fabric 10 years ago and bought a stash of it because I loved it and I never quite knew what I’d do with it,” she said. “It had been sitting in the basement of Bird’s Cobble Hill store for 10 years.”
Nearly a decade later, Mankins reunited with Bird alumna Ali Landorf, with whom Mankins shared an automatic affinity for “easy, chic and accessibly priced” summer dresses. She described how the pair began pulling fabric swatches, soon after churning out the city-friendly designs available to shop today. The rest, as they say, is history.
Mankins, formerly a buyer at Barneys New York and Steven Alan, bought Bird’s original Park Slope location from its owners in 2004. Two additional shops, in Williamsburg and Cobble Hill, have opened since, in addition to an e-commerce site.
Bird, clearly, is growing, but its aesthetic remains nearly identical to the eccentrically femme designs for which the Bird name has long been lauded. This entire line is stocked with lightly nipped waists and oversized pockets, billowing skirts and sharp, tidy prints. Like much of what the chain carries, the range would feel as appropriate on a Prospect Park mother of two as it might on a gangly off-duty model. That’s just the magic of Bird, of course — and why I suspect more original lines will crop up in the future.