‘What a Loss’: Shoppers & Designers Lament the Closing of Jeffrey Stores

A day after Jeffrey Kalinsky announced the closing of his Jeffrey stores, shoppers and fashion insiders alike are lamenting the news.

In a heartfelt instagram post, Kalinsky said Monday that parent company Nordstrom had made the decision to shutter the three boutiques — located in New York, Atlanta and Palo Alto, Calif. — as the department store chain grapples with the deep impact of coronavirus.

Designers and executives called the retailer a pioneer who revolutionized retail in New York and beyond.

“Jeffrey and I go back more years than either of us might like to remember. He is unique in so many ways and his vision will be so missed by his clients and his friends,” said George Malkemus, the former U.S. head of Manolo Blahnik, who worked with Kalinsky for decades.

Malkemus credits the Charleston, S.C.-born retailer with discovering the Meatpacking District, opening the door for the neighborhood to become a destination for much bigger brands. “I remember him telling me, ‘George, it’s all the rent I could afford.'”

Jeffrey Kalinsky33rd Annual Footwear News Achievement Awards, Inside, New York, USA - 03 Dec 2019
Jeffrey Kalinsky gave a heartfelt speech at the 2019 FNAAs.
CREDIT: Andrew H. Walker/Footwear News/S

Stuart Weitzman said, “Jeffrey brought something to New York it did not have — a taste level that was always represented in wonderful collections that were more exciting on his shelves than those of competitors.”

Kalinsky, who has always been an ardent advocate for young talents, caught the attention of Brandon Maxwell when the designer was growing up in Texas. “I first heard about Jeffrey in my small town, from the television when I would see sketches about [the store] on SNL,” recalled Brandon Maxwell in an Instagram post.

Maxwell, who presented Kalinsky with his FN Hall of Fame Award last December, said that after moving to New York, he visited the store often and spent his first paycheck there. Years later, Maxwell now calls Kalinsky a close friend and confidant. “You changed the narrative in retail, you made an impact and you always raised the bar,” Maxwell wrote to Kalinsky in his post.

Fellow New York talent Christian Cowan said that Jeffrey was the first store to ever stock his brand — and gave the designer his first window. “I will be forever grateful,” Cowan wrote on Instagram.

Loyal shoppers were also disappointed to hear news of the closing. “What a loss for Atlanta,” said Jana Simmons, who has shopped at the Phipps Plaza location for decades and knows the  team. “When Jeffrey first opened, he was a breath of fresh air. It was new and exciting and different. He started small, his business grew and then he grew into it. He is a true, old-school retailer. It’s what he does and who he is.”

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