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The New Style Merchants

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From left: Lara Fieldbinder (Dear Fieldbinder), Candice Waldron (Jumelle), and Kyung Lee (Albertine, Claudine, Leontine).   

STORE: Ylli
482 Driggs Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-302-3555
OWNER: Fetije Madzuric
Often, Madzuric is barely into her first coffee when a local designer drops in with samples. One morning it was Samantha Pleet with drop-waisted jumpers; another time, Kate Linstrom came by with hand-printed dresses she produces under the label Objets Trouvés. “I just said, ‘Okay, I’ll try it,’ ’’ says Madzuric, 29. “It’s not that much for me to order four pieces and see how it goes.” Madzuric’s first job was as a sales associate at Bloomingdale’s. Stints at Stila and Bergdorf followed; then she found herself back at Bloomingdale’s, in the men’s-fashion department, writing trend reports for buyers. She always wanted to open her own shop. Last year, her husband, a real-estate investor, convinced her to go through with it. She looked only at spaces in Williamsburg, where she grew up, figuring she’d start in the neighborhood she knew best. “Plus,” she says, “nobody needs me in the city.” She found a 5,100-square-foot space in a renovated factory with two walls of windows. Her customers (the hipsters and young moms who now make up most of Williamsburg’s population) look to her for originality more than luxury, which means her shop is heavy on unusual rising talents like Besoni, which makes origami-pleated baby-doll dresses. Still, landing headliners is essential. Trovata, the West Coast luxury designer line, wasn’t yet distributed in the neighborhood when Madzuric called; she got it. The high-end knitwear line Vince wasn’t as easy. “They hadn’t worked in Williamsburg before. But I told them, ‘Baby-doll tees for $68 will work. Trust me! We’ve got 30-story condos going up by the waterfront.’ ”

STORE: Dear Fieldbinder
198 Smith St., Cobble Hill, Brooklyn; 718-852-3620
OWNER: Lara Fieldbinder
When she first opened, Fieldbinder, 34, carried a mere ten lines, which she’d had to beg showrooms to let her buy. Now reps for designers like Ted Baker and Cynthia Rowley seek her out. “We just picked up Joseph,” she says, referring to the British label famous ten years ago for its slimming pants. “He’s trying to make a comeback.” Six months before she opened, when she was still working at the Guggenheim producing art books, Fieldbinder snuck into the Coterie trade show using fake business cards and invoices to scope out the lines and looks she’d sell. Her mission is to offer wearable, affordable fashion; no $1,000 silver-lamé Stella McCartney party dresses here. “My girl wants to get a lot of use out of an item,” says Fieldbinder. “I didn’t have a lot of money growing up in Texas, so I know what it means to buy a $150 shirt. Can you wear it once a week? Can you layer it?” At Designers & Agents, a trade show for funkier, smaller labels, she fell in love with Deener’s high-waisted jeans. She started selling Rachel Nasvik handbags after Nasvik walked into the store wearing one. “Madison Marcus is really hot right now,” she says of the label started by two twentysomething New York locals. “Someone came in and bought a super-short white eyelet dress of theirs for her wedding. But it’s a hard shape. You can’t have boobs.” Right now, her focus is making her white-on-white store all the more user-friendly. “I read this book that said what you want a customer to do is circle around the store. So my husband and I designed a structure in the middle of the store with a rack on one side and shelves on the other,” she says, proudly. “Now they circle.”

STORE: Jumelle
148 Bedford Ave., Williamsburg, Brooklyn; 718-388-9525
OWNER:Candice Waldron
Waldron, 34, never thought of herself as the type to own her own business. But after eleven years in TV production, most recently at PBS, she put her research skills to work and set about “producing” Jumelle. She sought advice from the Pace University business center when drafting her business plan. When she was deciding between opening in Fort Greene, where she lives, or Williamsburg, she simply called up indie-boutique guru Steven Alan for his opinion. He said Williamsburg. In a matter of weeks, she was stripping layers of linoleum and newspaper from the floor of a quaint but decrepit space on Bedford. She added some vintage floral wallpaper from Second Hand Rose in Tribeca and a black-glass chandelier. For her first season, the designers she carried were a representation of her own closet—edgy but pretty clothes from labels like Karen Walker, Grey Ant, and Alexander Herchcovitch. Then she went to Paris with her twin sister, Carla (jumelle is twin in French), and found Danish designer Camilla Staerk. In London she spotted Nelli Turner’s label Bi La Li, a line of well-tailored dresses with very sexy backs. “One of her former assistants is friends with my boyfriend,” says Waldron, “so she e-mailed me images of her collection. I ordered it without even seeing the samples.” Waldron’s biggest challenge now is offering unique pieces that hit the right notes for the neighborhood’s rapidly shifting, quirky clientele, which can run from the few remaining pioneering artists to Manhattan teenagers shopping with their moms. So far she’s doing something right. When she asked designer Caitlin Mociun to customize pieces exclusively for Jumelle, “Caitlin called and said she’d found a big, colorful wool plaid. I said, ‘Buy as much as you can and make me a muumuu.’ She made four,” says Waldron, “and they all sold out.”


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