Her style paragon is Georgia O’Keeffe. And the store Tiina Laakkonen ran for over a decade from a body home on Route 27 in Amagansett, N.Y., midway between East Hampton and Montauk, looks as if the kind of place the place you would think about the legendary artist augmenting her stylish if austere wardrobe — that’s, if Georgia O’Keeffe had been dressed by the Row.
The store, known as Tiina the Retailer, supplied a finely honed collection of minimalist, usually eye-poppingly pricey, designs for women and men — manufacturers like Toogood, Arts & Science, Arpenteur or Dosa; heritage labels like Bergfabel, Elgin of Scotland and Wommelsdorff; or indies just like the cult Italian designer Daniela Gregis. What it additionally offered was aid from the onslaught of luxurious items which have colonized retail on the storied East Finish of Lengthy Island.
Come September, Tiina the Retailer is closing. As Ms. Laakkonen, 59, a former mannequin, stylist (together with for The New York Instances) and gifted service provider, started to pack up, marking merchandise down by 50 %, she sat for the edited interview under.
Why shut a profitable enterprise?
There are a few causes. After I began out, I believed, “I’m going to have a cute little store, sell a few of my favorite things, it’ll be sweet.” However while you open a enterprise and it grows and grows, instantly that’s all you do. For higher or worse, it takes over your life. There was no strategy to placed on the brakes.
And that may be a drawback how?
Look, it’s an incredible drawback to have. However my life has been these 10-year cycles, whether or not in style or numerous inventive jobs. After 10 years — really, it’s simply over 11 — I felt like I needed to reboot.
What’s a reboot on this context?
In my cycle of creativity — or no matter it’s — the one manner was to kill this model of the shop and take a break. I wanted to create an area the place I might fine-tune what the following factor might be.
That’s a bit cagey.
This sounds fully mad, however I’d love to do one thing both manner smaller or manner larger — a extra extremely curated, extra extremely edited model or else Tiina the Retailer on a department-store degree.
No temptation to go over to the darkish facet, of style editorial?
That world as I knew it doesn’t exist. What we created right here in retail struck a chord with a sure kind of buyer, and I’d like to make use of that information. I heard on a regular basis from my prospects that there’s nowhere for them to buy.
Clarify that for somebody who has by no means visited East Hampton, the place, because the decorator and lifelong native Tom Scheerer not too long ago mentioned, retail on Primary Road as soon as amounted to “musty, rickety floored haberdasheries, a 5-and-10-cent store and Dreesen’s, the butcher” and now resembles the luxurious items degree within the Dubai Obligation Free mall.
The aspirational retail world has been taken over by massive luxurious manufacturers. That’s what they’ve carried out in East Hampton. However my buyer is not aspirational. They don’t need logos or any of that stuff. They’re carried out.
Who’re we speaking about right here?
My husband’s household has had a home out right here for over 60 years. The Hamptons even 10 years in the past was a distinct place. Once we determined to open, I didn’t know any of these individuals on Additional Lane.
Additional Lane being Park Place on Monopoly however with hedges.
I had no idea of who these individuals have been or how they dressed. However then individuals started displaying up, and fairly quickly you started to comprehend that, “Oh, this one is a billionaire, this one is a billionaire, and this one also is a billionaire.”
And what has your work as a retail anthropologist revealed?
For one factor, it’s unbelievable how rich these persons are. They’ll have an enormous home with an enormous workers, and that $50 million home could also be simply one in every of many. They transfer round from New York to L.A. to Aspen to St. Barts’ — at all times the place life is at its finest. Nonetheless, what’s nice in regards to the Hamptons is that, in a manner, you’ll be able to’t inform who is admittedly wealthy. Now we have guys stroll in carrying informal shorts and T-shirts, and then you definately Google them later and, “Well, OK, he’s worth $3.7 billion.”
There’s wealthy after which there’s wealthy.
The ultrarich are those that have to land their super-big planes in Westhampton as a result of when you have an actual airplane you don’t land it in East Hampton.
The runway’s too brief.
That’s summary stuff for the common Joe.
I’ve dealt loads with, I suppose, movie star and cash and fame, however it’s not my world in any respect. What I’ve found is that these persons are bored with purchasing in shops which are like style dictatorships.
Are we veering right here into “quiet luxury” territory?
Many of those individuals have unbelievable model, but they don’t need Hermès or Louis Vuitton. Retail generally has misplaced that feeling of curation and perspective. You may get the identical merchandise wherever in any massive metropolis or on-line. That’s unappealing for patrons who can principally have something. At a sure level it’s simply stuff to them.
Clearly they nonetheless need stuff otherwise you’d have been out-of-business.
A retailer like mine appealed as a result of individuals might uncover labels they’d by no means heard of or seen. It’s a distinct concept of luxurious. My aesthetic isn’t all people’s aesthetic, however in case you needed lovely issues pulled from everywhere in the world, that is your retailer.
Effectively, the constructing’s in the marketplace, and the store is closing in September. However I’ll be again in some type. I’m not emotionally hooked up to Tiina the Retailer. In the end, the explanation for closing is that, fairly than tweaking, it’s simpler to close the door. Transfer on. Chapter carried out.