The pandemic-fueled Hamptons market has been a sure bet for retailers this summer, especially as traffic and sales in other major markets continue to be challenged due to the rise of the COVID-19 Delta variant.
“This is the busiest summer retailers in the Hamptons have ever seen,” said Hal Zwick, a real estate broker at Compass, who noted that retail rents across the Hamptons enclaves range from $150 to $200 per square foot. He joked: “Once it got to May, you couldn’t drive out here.”
But unlike past years, the momentum had been building long before the summer kicked off — many well-heeled New Yorkers have resided in the Hamptons full-time since the pandemic upended life and business in March 2020.
Top luxury shoe labels such as Manolo Blahnik, which set up shop on Main Street in East Hampton, and Christian Louboutin, which opened on Southampton’s Job Lane, invested in new stores and splashy events to drive buzz and sales.
For Blahnik, the Hamptons opening — coupled with its June flagship debut on Madison Avenue — marked a homecoming of sorts for the brand, said U.S. president Andrew Wright.
“Business across both locations has been very positive. The multiple moments we created to celebrate the new store openings, the related press coverage and some important celebrity dressings have certainly helped capture the attention and drawn clients to make in-person shopping excursions,” said Wright. “Clients are certainly shopping with the hope and expectation that the coming months will bring more opportunities for both personal and work-related events for which to dress up and celebrate.”
On a recent trip to the East Hampton store, FN spotted the iconic blue Hangisi pumps that Hamptons resident Sarah Jessica Parker wore last month on the set of “And Just Like That…” displayed prominently. The men’s collection was also front and center, just as it is in the Madison Avenue store, where it has its own special space.
Christian Louboutin got everyone talking about its Southampton boutique when it brought together names like Olivia Palermo and Tracy Anderson for an outdoor movie night on the “Loubi Lawn” in July.
Smaller high-end names such as Clergerie are also making big statements in Southampton. A boutique on Jobs Lane, down the street from Louboutin, is expected to stay open even after the high summer season wraps up.
“Most of the clients know who we are and are thrilled that we are finally offering the brand in the area. Many are from our Madison boutique or were loyal clients from Barneys,” said Mathieu Kraut, president of the Americas for Clergerie parent French Legacy Group. “A lot of new customers are those traveling to the Hamptons — coming from places like the Carolinas, Northern California and Texas. The mood for summer has definitely been ‘buy now, wear now.’ If they see it, and they want it, they buy it,” the executive said, noting that the brand’s signature raffia styles have been key sales drivers.
But no shoe is more ubiquitous in the Hamptons right now than the Golden Goose Superstar sneaker, which was prominently featured in trendy stores across East Hampton, Southampton and Sag Harbor, including Tenet, Blue & Cream, Intermix and more. (The Italian label also has its own store in East Hampton.)
“Every year, we see more growth and buzz around the brand, and a lot of potential for further client acquisition,” said U.S. CEO Silvia Merati. “The majority of our customers have a second home here and have purchased Golden Goose in our New York stores. They are diverse and of every age.”
Merati noted that the brand’s Hamptons store is the No. 1 door for its resort collection.
“Compared with 2020, the Hamptons’ client feels more comfortable to go out and enjoy life, we see many of them dressing up in Golden Goose and wearing our unique exclusive styles. We see our customers prefer them over heels as part of a dressed-up look.”
Indeed, while many insiders are hoping for a return to glamour, casual comfort still reigns everywhere, even in the Hamptons.