SoHo Welcomes Sam Edelman: Closed Set with Julie Bensman

SoHo Welcomes Sam Edelman: Closed Set with Julie Bensman
SoHo Welcomes Sam Edelman: Closed Set with Julie Bensman

When I first step into Sam Edelman's 57th Street townhome office, I feel inclined to take off my shoes. Not to show him I’m sporting my favorite suede boots from last season's collection nor in hopes I might execute a casual swap with one of the pr

When I first step into Sam Edelman's 57th Street townhome office, I feel inclined to take off my shoes. Not to show him I’m sporting my favorite suede boots from last season's collection nor in hopes I might execute a casual swap with one of the pretty pairs in his adjacent showroom. Rather, the space is so bright and inviting with an air of approachable sophistication, I feel instantly at home.

With crystal chandeliers hanging high overhead, a well-edited mix of modern-meets-vintage furniture and the perfectly curated selection of art and fashion looks lining the walls, this is the definition of Upper East Side chic that would send Charlotte York to heaven.

The antithesis of Harry Goldenblatt, Mr. Edelman enters the room, tall and commanding, greeting legions of ladies typing away at their desks. Well-manicured hands match impeccably-accessorized feet, natch. We proceed to his office, where the conversation shifts from uptown surroundings to Sam's new SoHo store, opening in just a few days. Not surprisingly, design and decor were of utmost importance in creating an environment that not only spoke to the Sam Edelman girl, but also showcased products with an inspired authenticity for which the brand is known.

Here, he and I chat about the Sam Edelman girl (a young Charlotte, perhaps), St. Charles, IL (my hometown) and the downtown digs that took him nearly 18 months to discover.

Why was SoHo the perfect place for the new store?

SE: In the eight years this company has been around, I’ve been shopping the world for fashion and trends — never to copy, but to really see what’s happening. I look at pathways and people on the street: what they’re eating and wearing, their hair and makeup… I love Le Marais district in Paris and 3rd Street in Los Angeles. I really love London — it’s definitely on my to-do list. But with all the shopping I’ve done, I’ve never seen anything like the phenomenon that is SoHo. A Tuesday afternoon in SoHo looks like a Saturday in LA.

When it came to choosing the exact location, I didn’t want to be on Broadway. Rather, a quality environment where I could build my own identity and be surrounded by neighbors like Prada and Frye, stores that have the integrity I’m looking for. Sam Edelman is a luxury, aspirational brand and this is the greatest location for me in the world to build a home.

How important was the interior design of the store in creating a shopping experience that complements the product?
SE: I could have done it myself, but I’m not an architect. I wanted the best. When I drive a car, I want to know the best engineer designed it. When I go to a restaurant, I want to know the chef is world class. And when I design a store, I want an architect that can do a much better job than I can.

I hired an amazing architect in David Mann — I love everything he’s ever done and he really shared my vision for this store. It was the most amazing chemistry — I love his design theory and the fact that he truly understands who my girl is.

Who is that girl?

SE: My dream customer is anywhere from 16- to 29-years-old. She might be from St. Charles and dreams of moving to a Manhattan apartment on the Upper East Side with a doorman, fabulous mirrors and plush carpeting. Of course, we all know when she gets here, it will be six girls squeezed into a tiny shoebox apartment, but this store is the manifestation of that aspirational dream. This store is for her.

Where do you find inspiration for your collections each season?

SE: I think I’m most famous for having a muse — and I find her in different places. Sometimes, I find her in a European magazine or at the baggage claim in an airport terminal…I actually don’t like to shop New York as much as other designers might, because I like to feel as if I’m discovering my muse. Whether it’s Antwerp, Copenhagen, Morocco, or London, I’m always looking — and when I find her, she starts me on my voyage.

What’s next for the brand?

SE: I’m always focused on quality. If I owned a popular restaurant, I’d take a table out. I stand for integrity and longevity — and that’s how I built this company. I do believe the brand will continue to grow and I think we will do that with brand extension — everything from handbags to outerwear, swim to intimates.

I’m very, very lucky — I can do almost anything I want to do with my life. Everything about this brand is completely from my heart – and the day that goes away, I won’t be here.

Source: The Fashion Spot


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