By Emily J. Weitz
Over the course of the long winter months in Sag Harbor, life’style had its doors shut tight. Inside, workers were toiling to double the square footage, to let the light flood in, and to make shopping atlife’style a brighter and freer experience.
And perhaps no brand captures the essence of this open, easy living as well as Brochu Walker. The company, founded by designers Lisa Brochu and Lauren Walker, is all about layering soft fabrics and earthy tones to create a beachy, warm look that’s quintessential Sag Harbor.
In celebration of the overlap of the philosophies of these businesses, Lifestyle will be hosting one of only four Brochu Walker pop-up shops in the country.
A pop-up shop is basically a shop within a shop: where usually life’style and other independent boutiques carry a small selection of items from the season’s line, this idea allows the designers to bring in a more extensive offering. While all the usual designers will still be available, a part of the store will be devoted entirely to Brochu Walker, whose presence will more than double. A wider spectrum of colors and styles will be available.
“At a branded store [like Prada] you’ll see the entire collection,” says Debbie Rudoy, owner of Lifestyle. With a pop-up shop, you get “greater exposure and knowledge of the brand… It fills out as a more detailed collection.”
Rudoy finds the Brochu Walker brand to be consistent with what her customers are looking for.
“It’s a very southern California state of mind,” she says. “Which is how we live out here. It’s casual with sophistication. It’s easy to wear and fits well. It’s an up and coming brand and I’ve had tremendous success with them.”
Perhaps part of the reason Brochu Walker has sold so well in this beach community is the designers’ vision behind their brand.
“Lisa and Lauren started the company focused on chic and wearable basics layered in your own way,” explains Mandi Meng, a representative of Brochu Walker. “You go from the beach to dinner, and you have to be flexible. The construction of the garments is made for this: very detailed, using high quality fabrics to give a luxurious feel.”
For Brochu Walker, pop-up shops offer the opportunity to show off their wares even though they work mostly with smaller businesses.
“Most of our stores are specialty shops,” says Meng. “Since they’re smaller stores, they can’t buy the whole collection, so a pop-up shop helps customers see more of our line.”
This benefits the designers as people develop a stronger affinity for the brand, and it benefits the shop as more people come in for the special event and see what else is offered there. The locations for the other pop-up shops will be in New Jersey, Chicago, and Oklahoma.
“Lisa and Lauren chose the stores that are the most supportive with the best customer base,” says Meng. “It’s an opportunity to give the stores a chance to increase business and to help customers see more of the line. Basically, it’s to support the specialty stores that are always supporting us.”
And the owners clearly feel they understand the Hamptons market.
“The Brochu Walker collection gives a nod to the casual lifestyle found in these beach communities,” Lisa and Lauren wrote in an email this week. “Mornings spent at the farmers market, afternoons at the beach and evenings dining outdoors. BW tee shirts layered under chunky cotton cardigans, whisper weight linen sweaters wrapped with a scarf, or cozy washed sweats with a tank and flip flops…all you need to add is some great sandals, a pair of jeans and some fabulous jewelry and your weekend bag is packed!”
Brochu Walker will kick off its stay at life’style in Sag Harbor with a launch party on April 17 from 4 to 7 p.m. Cocktails will be served and special gifts will be given out.
“It’s something new and exciting,” says Rudoy. “You don’t have to buy anything… It’s like going to an art opening.”
In the same way, new and creative designs will be available for perusal. The pop-up shop will then stay in Lifestyle for two weeks before packing up and moving on to its next location.
Since its renovations, life’style has expanded its accessory and footwear departments and created a basic menswear department. To showcase that, “Throughout the summer we’ll be partnering more with vendors and having in-store events,” says Rudoy. “It won’t necessarily be another pop-up shop, but we are trying to make the store more interactive with our customers. We just want people to come in and say hello and see the shop,” she says. “We’re really proud of what we’ve been able to do with it.”