Being in New York City, especially now that the studio is so close to SoHo, we are very aware of all the amazing boutiques the city has to offer…almost to the point of being overwhelmed!
I’d been putting off buying a garden wedding dress for months. I didn’t want to spend a day going from store to store, but I also wanted to have more of an experience buying such a special piece than sitting all alone in my PJ’s on a Saturday morning and ordering online. I think there is a time to buy something quickly online and then there is a time to make it an experience.
When I was down in Charleston with Tibi for their pre-fall runway show, we stopped in to the boutique Hampden Clothing where creator and owner Stacy Smallwood has turned an historic King Street storefront into a little curated slice of SoHo heaven. I walked in, I said I was looking for a garden party wedding dress, and in 15mins it was done. It felt like I was finding something insanely special without having to do all the work. They carried everything from Alexander Wang to Rag & Bone, Tibi to KENZO and more. It was fabulous.
So what’s the point of covering a store? The point is, Stacy brought New York fashion -avant garde silhouettes, crazy patterns and pieces so chic they look like something a princess would wear – into Charleston South Carolina, a town of 400,000 people, and never looked back. She doesn’t sell beach flip flops or mass-produced product that’s here today, gone tomorrow; she respects her customer’s intelligence, sophistication and style. She created a space where you can love fashion but not have to know anything about it and still be taken care of. She has wound back the clock to an era of shopping where the store was specially curated for you, where shopkeepers knew your name and what you liked, pulled for you from designers when she is on buying trips to New York or Paris, and makes sure you feel as good as you look. In a time where the Internet makes us all so anonymous, it’s a modern day luxury to have someone like Stacy who KNOWS you.
I sat down with Stacy in her store to hear how she created her own fashion universe in the middle of the South.
How did you get into fashion?
I was recruited by Neiman Marcus at Vanderbilt to go straight into their buying program, and it was the best decision I ever made. I moved to Dallas and I was with Neiman Marcus for five years as an assistant buyer and designer in sportswear, and department manager in ladies shoes at the flagship store.
Why do you say it’s the best thing that ever happened to you?
It taught me a work ethic and gave me a bigger picture of the fashion industry that I wouldn’t have gotten. My buyer taught me to – she worked equally as hard if not harder, and she taught me to never ask anybody to do anything you wouldn’t do.