By Rachel Bosworth
As the summer season is upon us, there’s a noticeable uptick in residents and out-of-towners enjoying the warmer days on the streets of the East End. Second homeowners are spending more time outside the confinements of city life, and ladies who lunch can be found dining at favorited restaurants throughout seemingly endless days of the week. An idyllic afternoon for many includes a little shopping.
In the Hamptons, there’s no shortage of fashion forward designer brands and boutiques to choose from. For children’s clothing however, there are fewer options for outfitting newborns to preteens in stylish yet youthful clothing. This is a void one East End parent and business owner has noticed and is helping to fill.
Vanessa Hamer is the owner of Ethel + Row, a children’s boutique offering a curated selection of modern clothing for girls and boys. After relocating from Bridgehampton to Sag Harbor this past May, Ms. Hamer hopes to continue bringing what she looks for as a mother herself to the Hamptons.
“I find shopping for children in the Hamptons to be challenging. With the recent closing of several boutiques, options for parents are limited to a few brand names that are minimally supplied,” she says. “School children are all wearing the same mainstream uniforms. The summer families who are a big portion of the local economy are choosing to shop for their children elsewhere. We are so fortunate to live in an area that exposes us to style and expressiveness, but people tend to forget this also applies to kids.”
The boutique houses a collection of international, independent designer brands with a focus on contemporary and classic styles with a minimal aesthetic. Picture subdued tones of neutral gray, cream, and white, with subtle stripes and prints on natural fabrics. “I’m quite selective in the styles and colors I choose,” says Ms. Hamer. “You won’t find a lot of overly bright colors or character pieces.” Basic silhouettes allow many of the pieces in Ethel + Row to be unisex, and can easily transcend generations as trends change.
“We are seeing a big rise in eco and health conscience brands,” shares Ms. Hamer. “There are some remarkable organic and all natural children’s collections out there, often developed by parents who were struggling to find quality product for their own children. Also trending is adult fashion for kids, which is very much the focus of my store.”
Among Ethel + Row’s designer stock are environmentally conscious brands like atelier djm out of Lithuania, which uses natural materials like cotton, linen, and bamboo, and California-based company, boy+girl, that aims to limit its environmental impact and pay tribute to local artisans from around the globe.
“Parents tend to love Gray Label, particularly the ‘dress’ and the ‘wide neck hooded sweater.’ It’s an incredible brand based in Amsterdam,” Ms. Hamer says. “It consists of the softest 100-percent organic cotton basics. Both parents and kids love it. Kids of all ages seem to immediately gravitate towards the Friendly Toys wooden toys as well.”
Ms. Hamer’s entry into children’s clothing was natural with more than 15 years of experience in the fashion industry. She was a fashion publicist in New York before she relocated back to her home in East Hampton, where she had her son and later worked in retail and business management. “I’ve had some amazing opportunities throughout my career working alongside prominent designers, large fashion corporations, and small business owners,” says Ms. Hamer. “All experiences combined paved the way to opening my own boutique.”
Ethel + Row is located at 83 Main Street in Sag Harbor is open daily for their second season dressing little ones of all ages. For more information, visit ethelandrow.com.