BY SARAH TREFETHEN
Pint-sized suit vests and designer bibs are a hot new trend in high-end retail.
Italian fashion house Giorgio Armani will open an Armani Junior store on the corner of Madison Avenue and 88th Street, according to brokers at Prudential Douglas Eliman’s retail group, who negotiated the lease on the approximately 1,104 s/f storefront.
Nick Cowen and Joel Isaacs of Isaacs and Co. represented Armani in the 10-year deal.
“It’s an area where you have a lot of affluent families and kids,” Isaccs said. “It seemed like the right place to put the brand.”
The Italian designer’s offerings for newborns, tots and tweens will join a number of other children’s fashion retailers lining Madison Avenue on the Upper East side.
“Armani was really the cherry on top,” said Joseph A. Aquino, executive vice president of PDE’s retail group. “It’s such a great name.”
The Upper East Side, home to many private schools and spacious luxury residential buildings, has long hosted a number of shopping options for parents who want their offspring turned out well. Magic Windows, known for its custom-made party dresses in sizes infant thur age 16, is still the “mom and pop” of the area, according to Aquino, and the French Children’s line Bonpoint has had a store on Madison and 91 Street since 2000.
But in recent months, the sector has been picking up steam.
In the past 18 months the area’s established stores have been joined by J. Crew Cuts, located across 87the Street from Magic Windows; Brooks Brothers Children on the corner of 86 Street; and the New York-based designer Pink Chicken, which opened next to the future Armani space just last month.
Retail rents on Madison Avenue between 86th and 92nd Street average between $250 and $275 psf, Aquino said.
The number of young New Yorkers has been growing for years. Between 2000 and 2006, according to the New York Times, Manhattan’s five-and-under crowd increased by over 32 percent.
The trend is not merely towards more children’s stores, but towards more fashionable, original kids’ apparel, according to Faith Hope Consolo, chairman of the PDE retail group.
The growth in designer children’s clothing started in Europe and has more recently spread to American designers, she said.
PDE’s retail team has also worked on deals to bring high-end kids clothing to Chicago, LA and Florida, Consolo said. “Everything starts in New York and spills across the country.”
Even shopping malls are liable to get in on the act, as they look for more unique concepts to fill their storefronts, according to Consolo.
“I think this is really a phenomenon that encompasses all people and all types of labels,” Consolo said.
“It’s encouraging we’re not just going to see Gap tee shirts and jeans — or if we do, they’ll have a little flair and fashion.”