When Robin Kramer was commissioned to design the first retail store for Alexander Wang—the 27-year-old fashion school dropout whose knack with shears has built him a $25 million empire—she could have served up the usual downtown Manhattan treatment of big white box with nothing in it. But fortunately for Wang, Kramer—former Calvin Klein creative vp and now president of Kramer Design Group—has branding religion and preaches a gospel many labels have yet to grasp. “There’s a difference between just a pretty space and one that captures your brand’s vision,” Kramer says. In her view, a store shouldn’t just stock a brand, but embody and explain it. Sure, it’s a nice idea—but how’s it really work? Well, Alexander Wang’s clothing is about what the company calls “laid-back luxury”—mixing the comfortable ($40 pocket T-shirt) with the chichi ($675 tuxedo jacket). And his new SoHo store sets out to do the same thing. It’s a jumble of formal and casual, a Paris atelier with a playroom tossed in. Of course, in the rag trade, it’s all in the details. So here’s a closer look at where branding meets baseboard.
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