Her trend 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 like the kind of place the place you possibly can 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, provided a finely honed collection of minimalist, typically 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 supplied 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 p.c, she sat for the edited interview under.
Why shut a profitable enterprise?
There are a few causes. After I began out, I assumed, “I’m going to have a cute little store, sell a few of my favorite things, it’ll be sweet.” However once you open a enterprise and it grows and grows, all of the sudden that’s all you do. For higher or worse, it takes over your life. There was no option to placed on the brakes.
And that could be a downside how?
Look, it’s an excellent downside to have. However my life has been these 10-year cycles, whether or not in trend or numerous inventive jobs. After 10 years — really, it’s simply over 11 — I felt like I wished to reboot.
What’s a reboot on this context?
In my cycle of creativity — or no matter it’s — the one approach 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 subsequent factor can be.
That’s a bit cagey.
This sounds fully mad, however I’d love to do one thing both approach smaller or approach larger — a extra extremely curated, extra extremely edited model or else Tiina the Retailer on a department-store stage.
No temptation to go over to the darkish aspect, of trend editorial?
That world as I knew it doesn’t exist. What we created right here in retail struck a chord with a sure sort of buyer, and I’d like to make use of that data. I heard on a regular basis from my clients 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 just lately mentioned, retail on Principal 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 posh items stage within the Dubai Responsibility Free mall.
The aspirational retail world has been taken over by massive luxurious manufacturers. That’s what they’ve finished in East Hampton. However my buyer is not aspirational. They don’t need logos or any of that stuff. They’re finished.
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 special place. After we determined to open, I didn’t know any of these folks on Additional Lane.
Additional Lane being Park Place on Monopoly however with hedges.
I had no idea of who these folks have been or how they dressed. However then folks started exhibiting 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 individuals 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 greatest. Nonetheless, what’s nice concerning the Hamptons is that, in a approach, you’ll be able to’t inform who is de facto wealthy. We’ve got guys stroll in sporting informal shorts and T-shirts, and you then 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 must land their super-big planes in Westhampton as a result of if in case you have an actual aircraft you don’t land it in East Hampton.
The runway’s too brief.
That’s summary stuff for the common Joe.
I’ve dealt rather a lot 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 individuals are uninterested in procuring in shops which might be like trend dictatorships.
Are we veering right here into “quiet luxury” territory?
Many of those folks have unimaginable fashion, but they don’t need Hermès or Louis Vuitton. Retail basically has misplaced that feeling of curation and viewpoint. You will get the identical merchandise anyplace 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 folks might uncover labels they’d by no means heard of or seen. It’s a special thought of luxurious. My aesthetic just isn’t everyone’s aesthetic, however when you wished lovely issues pulled from everywhere in the world, that is your retailer.
Properly, the constructing’s available on the market, and the store is closing in September. However I’ll be again in some kind. I’m not emotionally connected to Tiina the Retailer. Finally, the rationale for closing is that, relatively than tweaking, it’s simpler to close the door. Transfer on. Chapter finished.