Monday, November 1, 2010

JBCStyle: J.McLaughlin Opens at Westport

It's back to the future style and we're taking you to New York's Upper East Side. The year is 1977 and brothers Jay and Kevin McLaughlin have just opened what will be the first in a series of stores all over the country - right next to NYC institution for "burgers and bloodies," J.G. Melon. An American empire is born. . .

J.McLaughlin style.

In celebration of the brand new J.McLaughlin Westport store which opened its doors today, JBCStyle was excited to speak with Jay McLaughlin for an exclusive InsiderStyle feature.

Kevin and Jay McLaughlin
"Our family has always had an entrepreneurial spirit. In 1977 my brother and I decided to collaborate on a project and we opened our first store next to J.G. Melon. We basically built it ourselves and decided to create a label that would be known for classic clothes, but with a twist. We're never pretentious or stuffy. My brother Kevin is the design force behind the company and I tend to oversee the merchandising, operations and new store construction."

John, Julie, Joan, Jay and Kevin McLaughlin at Lexington Avenue store opening
Steven Siegler, Jay McLaughlin and Quest Magazine founder Chris Meigher
In one of the toughest retail climates in history, Jay must be doing something right. As stores shut down and vacant windows rest idly, J.McLaughlin stores seem to be exploding. A new store in Brooklyn Heights: "They grew up in Brooklyn. They like to set up shops in neighborhoods as opposed to malls and large shopping centers. Community is very important to the brothers," shares J.McLaughlin's Jack Lynch.

"I would describe our look as classic, but with a twist. An undercurrent of humor. Take a look at our courduroy pants. If you look at the waistband you will note that it's lined in a silk; these little details make something special. We study what everybody is doing and we have enough restraint to tone it down; we know our customers well and they in turn feel comfortable and trust us as merchants. The product has to stimulate us."

As we enter into holiday shopping season, we can't help but agree. A skull and bones tie, socks or belts featuring cocktails make for perfect, whimsical gifts.

Who can forget the sensation these babies created? Refinery29's editor wore this preppy bad boy at the Jelly Pool concert series. No time to get to a J.McLaughlin store? Buy them now at their E-Commerce site!

Talk about sense of humor style. . .

"The Westport store which opens today is a new prototype for us," Jay continues. "A normal JMcLaughlin store is about 1200 square feet. This is 5,500 and we are committed to providing the best shopping experience possible. It will be what Henri Bendels was fifteen years ago: the shop of shops."

Let's take a peek:

"For example," Jay elaborates, "The Equestrian area for women will feature the jodphur pants and quilted jackets. The French garden room will feature holiday looks including our famous ribbon skirts and dresses as well as the short, taffeta skirts. Instead of being bunched together in baskets near the counter, our accessories will finally have their own section. There will be an urban area. People usually think of us as all color and prints; our urban section will feature more greys and blacks. I particularly like the wallpaper featuring reproductions of silk scarves. I find that very unusual. The store gives us the opportunity to differentiate our brand."

"The increased space will also allow us to have a larger emphasis on our men's line. And we believe our customers will appreciate that the resort section will be a permanent fixture - they can always pop in before a vacation for anything they need. If you're in Manhattan, though, go straight to the Lexington Avenue store. It's indicative of everything new and special at J.McLaughlin."

Will do, Jay - we enjoyed New York Shopping Diary's piece on the 72nd and Lexington neighborhood favorite. But we're kinda partial to the Palm Beach store!

JBCStyle's Creative Director Anisha Lakhani loves the label because, "There are always surprises to be found at the store. I like that the line features staple pieces, but there will always be a top or a dress in an unusual print. One of my favorite resort pieces is a J.McLaughlin tunic that I wear as a dress. It has a vintage print and I've worn it for years."

Jay is partial to the ribbon skirt because "I enjoy the three dimensional aspect to it. It's very labor intensive to create; it involves joining actual ribbons together. It looks great on any woman - especially with a classic, crisp white shirt."

"And the silk scarf tops have been a top seller. They just fly off the shelves."

Jay certainly has his hands full these days, and we can't wait to make a little road trip to see the store ourselves. As for down time - in the rare moments when Jay is free - how does he like to relax? Music? Books?

"You'll have to ask my son John about music," Jay laughs. "He's the expert. When I have a free moment, I like to read a book by Lee Child. I really enjoy his writing. Or, believe it or not, browse through some fashion publications to see what everyone else is doing these days."

So he can do it better?

Why not? It has always been the American style.


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