Her vogue paragon is Georgia O’Keeffe. And the store Tiina Laakkonen ran for over a decade from a body home on Route 27 in Amagansett, N.Y., midway between East Hampton and Montauk, looks like the type of place the place you could possibly think about the legendary artist augmenting her stylish if austere wardrobe — that’s, if Georgia O’Keeffe had been dressed by the Row.
The store, referred to as Tiina the Retailer, supplied a finely honed collection of minimalist, usually eye-poppingly pricey, designs for women and men — manufacturers like Toogood, Arts & Science, Arpenteur or Dosa; heritage labels like Bergfabel, Elgin of Scotland and Wommelsdorff; or indies just like the cult Italian designer Daniela Gregis. What it additionally supplied was reduction from the onslaught of luxurious items which have colonized retail on the storied East Finish of Lengthy Island.
Come September, Tiina the Retailer is closing. As Ms. Laakkonen, 59, a former mannequin, stylist (together with for The New York Occasions) and gifted service provider, started to pack up, marking merchandise down by 50 p.c, she sat for the edited interview beneath.
Why shut a profitable enterprise?
There are a few causes. After I began out, I assumed, “I’m going to have a cute little store, sell a few of my favorite things, it’ll be sweet.” However if you open a enterprise and it grows and grows, instantly that’s all you do. For higher or worse, it takes over your life. There was no method to placed on the brakes.
And that may be a drawback how?
Look, it’s an incredible drawback to have. However my life has been these 10-year cycles, whether or not in vogue or numerous inventive jobs. After 10 years — really, it’s simply over 11 — I felt like I needed to reboot.
What’s a reboot on this context?
In my cycle of creativity — or no matter it’s — the one means was to kill this model of the shop and take a break. I wanted to create an area the place I might fine-tune what the following factor will probably be.
That’s a bit cagey.
This sounds fully mad, however I’d love to do one thing both means smaller or means larger — a extra extremely curated, extra extremely edited model or else Tiina the Retailer on a department-store stage.
No temptation to go over to the darkish aspect, of vogue editorial?
That world as I knew it doesn’t exist. What we created right here in retail struck a chord with a sure sort of buyer, and I’d like to make use of that data. I heard on a regular basis from my prospects that there’s nowhere for them to buy.
Clarify that for somebody who has by no means visited East Hampton, the place, because the decorator and lifelong native Tom Scheerer lately stated, retail on Important Avenue as soon as amounted to “musty, rickety floored haberdasheries, a 5-and-10-cent store and Dreesen’s, the butcher” and now resembles the posh items stage within the Dubai Obligation Free mall.
The aspirational retail world has been taken over by large luxurious manufacturers. That’s what they’ve performed in East Hampton. However my buyer is not aspirational. They don’t need logos or any of that stuff. They’re performed.
Who’re we speaking about right here?
My husband’s household has had a home out right here for over 60 years. The Hamptons even 10 years in the past was a unique place. Once we determined to open, I didn’t know any of these folks on Additional Lane.
Additional Lane being Park Place on Monopoly however with hedges.
I had no idea of who these folks had been or how they dressed. However then folks started displaying up, and fairly quickly you started to appreciate that, “Oh, this one is a billionaire, this one is a billionaire, and this one also is a billionaire.”
And what has your work as a retail anthropologist revealed?
For one factor, it’s unbelievable how rich these persons are. They’ll have an enormous home with an enormous workers, and that $50 million home could also be simply one in every of many. They transfer round from New York to L.A. to Aspen to St. Barts’ — at all times the place life is at its finest. Nonetheless, what’s nice concerning the Hamptons is that, in a means, you’ll be able to’t inform who is basically wealthy. We have now guys stroll in sporting informal shorts and T-shirts, and you then Google them later and, “Well, OK, he’s worth $3.7 billion.”
There’s wealthy after which there’s wealthy.
The ultrarich are those that must land their super-big planes in Westhampton as a result of you probably have an actual aircraft you don’t land it in East Hampton.
The runway’s too quick.
That’s summary stuff for the common Joe.
I’ve dealt loads with, I suppose, celeb and cash and fame, nevertheless it’s not my world in any respect. What I’ve found is that these persons are uninterested in procuring in shops which might be like vogue dictatorships.
Are we veering right here into “quiet luxury” territory?
Many of those folks have unimaginable fashion, but they don’t need Hermès or Louis Vuitton. Retail basically has misplaced that feeling of curation and viewpoint. You may get the identical merchandise wherever in any large metropolis or on-line. That’s unappealing for purchasers who can principally have something. At a sure level it’s simply stuff to them.
Clearly they nonetheless need stuff otherwise you’d have been out-of-business.
A retailer like mine appealed as a result of folks might uncover labels they’d by no means heard of or seen. It’s a unique concept of luxurious. My aesthetic shouldn’t be everyone’s aesthetic, however should you needed stunning issues pulled from all around the world, that is your retailer.
Properly, the constructing’s in the marketplace, and the store is closing in September. However I’ll be again in some type. I’m not emotionally hooked up to Tiina the Retailer. In the end, the explanation for closing is that, relatively than tweaking, it’s simpler to close the door. Transfer on. Chapter performed.