“We talk about wanting to become a lifestyle brand, but it’s more about giving a community of people — the style leaders — a place to rally around,” said Ayesha Ahmad, founder of independent design community Trunkt. “People who are passionate about design and craftsmanship are naturally curious, much like designers are. That philosophy is a lifestyle, and the Trunkt store is a place where like-minded people can gather.”
Trunkt — which began in 2004 as indie designers grouping for trunk shows in the Hamptons and New York City, and quickly developed into a global web community — is reaching out to its growing consumer fanbase. This summer launched Trunkt’s online boutique, ShopTrunkt.com, and this October marks the reopening and second season of Trunkt’s flagship store, nestled in NYC’s Tribeca neighborhood.
A brick-and-mortar reflection of Trunkt as a complete design alternative to McStyle, the storefront is confidently and chicly discreet: it’s logo-less except for a sandwich board proclaiming “Trunkt,” the street window is glazed and blank, but the door is welcoming, wide open, even on the rainy Columbus Day weekend. A step inside, and there’s a greeting of clean white walls free of everything but a single Trunkt sign and hanging clothes. The centerpiece of the one-room space is an island of goods, encouraging an easy walk around the boutique.
“The layout of the store is meant to follow the concept of a design loft, not a retail store,” said Ahmad. “The idea is for people to come in, and discover products as they browse, much like souks with their winding alleys where you find treasures and unexpected surprises as you wander around.”
As plenty of the “treasures” are available at Trunkt’s online boutique, the flagship store’s merch isn’t so much unexpected surprises as an opportunity to really experience products. On the boutique’s first official Saturday open, one woman strolled in, eager to feel InLeaf throw pillows, which she’d discovered online. Designers understand this: “I’m also a ShopTrunkt.com designer, but I want my customers to hand-feel my handbags,” said June Chang, whose Chia, Inc.’s holiday collection of leather hobos and doctor bags are in the store.
Sharon Gill, designer of Kismet NYC, a line of Indian-inspired womenswear, echoed Chang’s sentiment. “Trunkt Tribeca has the benefits of a changing room and sales assistants to help the customer out. With regards to clothing, a trial room is essential since customers need to try things out for fit before they buy.”
The location, location, location isn’t so bad, either. “Trunkt’s store caters to a fashionable clientele looking for the unique,” said Karine Silverton, founder of Moncalin, a line of handmade plush toys and blankies that’s been gifted to Hollywood moms like Britney Spears and Gwenyth Paltrow. “The boutique gives the designers the opportunity to showcase their latest creations in one easily accessible location.”
“We chose Tribeca for two main reasons,” picked up Ahmad. “It’s an incredibly soulful neighborhood with a lot of character and it’s a true community. Both those things resonate with Trunkt. We’re lucky to have been so warmly welcomed by Tribecans.”
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