Tag Archives: boston

Until We Meet Again…

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I’ve been saying it for a long time, but I suppose my voice got quieter about it as the decades passed. As I prepare to close Louis I want to make sure you know I that have always felt like it was a privilege to have the opportunity to express myself in the way that I have for all of these years. You have all given me the freedom to evolve, and ultimately create Louis for you.

Besides my role as a business owner I have always viewed myself, and my true function at Louis, as an interpreter of style. I made it my life’s work to go out into the world to see what I could find, interpret it, and bring it back to the city we all call home. When I reflect on the legacy of Louis I understand that my father, and my grandfather, and even my great-grandfather Louis, who made his interpretations though previously worn clothing, did it in much of the same way. I’m grateful that we’ve had a devout, supportive audience for nearly 85 years.

While I’m curious about what my future will look like without Louis in it, it’s no secret that my biggest fear is that other stores like Louis will all but disappear. Big business is taking over and I

worry that innovative minds won’t be given the opportunity to do what we did, and that people won’t have the ability to experience anything quite as magical as Louis has been throughout the years.

I talk often about evolution and appreciation, and while sometimes I feel like both have nearly been lost on ecommerce and big box superstores, I trust that someday they will come back. And I believe Louis will be there when they do, for the next generation.

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I must take this opportunity to thank all of the amazing sales consultants who have shared their talents with all of us for so long, including Arthur Jordan, who has been a part of our family for 48 years. I’m not sure where he’ll land yet, but when he does…make sure you find him. I’m proud to have had the best in the business by my side year after year. There is not another group of people in the city as devoted to their mission as those who have walked the floor at Louis throughout the years. I have seen them work tirelessly with their clients to make sure each and every one of them walked out of Louis satisfied.

I also need to thank the other members of the staff that stayed behind-the-scenes with me and did everything in their power to make sure Louis was the best experience around. I don’t know what I would have done with out you.
In my years at Louis we have pioneered some of the top designers, past and present. It was a pleasure to bring you Public School and Tim Coppens, Greg Lauren and Simone Rocha, Rosie Assoulin and Rosanna Getty, to name a few. I will miss their love for their craft and the energy they brought to my travels.

I’ll miss my incredible vendors including my dear friend Mossimo Bizziocchi, and of course I will miss lunch at Sam’s. But most of all I’ll miss all of you…our loyal customers.

Thank you for patronizing Louis since 1930.

Until we meet again…

-Debi

Arthur Jordan – The Best in Boston – A Legend at Louis

Throughout the years at Louis, I’ve seen so much. I’ve met so many incredible people and seen so many rich and exciting things. Colors and fabrics change, patterns and lines evolve, but one thing has always remained the same, and that one thing is Arthur Jordan.

Arthur has been with Louis for as long as I can remember, and as far as I’m concerned, there will never be a better sales consultant in this city. I’ve been watching him work for decades, and quite honestly, the way he works with people is from a different era. He works with respect and taste – acting as part psychologist, part comedian, and part stylist. Perhaps more importantly – part futurist, always knowing a customer wants before they even know they want it. In the eyes of the industry, THAT is a value of a salesperson. No one is as good as Arthur, and no one will ever match his talent again. It’s an art form I am admittedly sad to see end.

Arthur has always been the ultimate wardrobe sales consultant in my eyes. It’s no secret that men aren’t always completely equipped at making the best sartorial choices, and it’s for that reason that gentlemen like Arthur will always be needed and valued.

As we have been preparing to close our doors this summer, nothing has made me happier than to see Arthur’s clients come in to honor him and get a taste of his service – one last time.

There will never, ever be anyone like Arthur Jordan. He is – the quintessential Louis experience.

Now it’s my turn to honor him. I asked my friend and writer, Jamie Kohn, to meet with Arthur and learn more about his past, present and future – and here’s what he told her…

ARTHUR JORDAN

Arthur Jordan has been a part of the Louis family since September 1967. He grew up in Dorchester, and went to Dorchester High School. If you ask him where he went to college he’ll tell you, “U of MP,” the University of Murray Pearlstein.

Jamie:

Tell me about the “U of MP:”

Arthur:

Well, I say that I went to U of MP, because Murray Pearlstein was the one who really gave me my education – in business and in life. My first job in retail was at a local Dorchester shop called Mike’s. Then I headed into Boston proper to work for the National Pant Company. It was in Chinatown, on Boylston Street – right in the middle of what used to be known as The Combat Zone. During that time there were really only two great places to shop in Boston – Martini Carl…and Louis. I had been working at Martini Carl for a couple of years and one afternoon, Bob Itri (who had been at Louis for 45 years during his career) came in one day and told me Louis, Murray’s cousin, had heard about me and wanted to meet me. Now, Louis was just the best store in Boston, and I have to admit I was pretty intimidated. Bob arranged for Murray to take me around the store, and before we were finished he offered me a job. I was shaking – but I took it.

I started to work in the Berkley shop – on the third floor. It was like an upscale Brooks Brothers, but much cooler with the fit and the prices. I worked under a gentleman names Frank Nunuez who ran the shop until the early 70’s. At that time Murray was doing all of the buying, except the street level, which was Wally Horn’s haberdashery shop. Eventually Louis and Murray bought Wally out, and Murray started to buy everything.

After two to three years in the Berkley shop, Murray asked me if I would join him on his buying trips. I figured I must be doing something right. This was around the time he started traveling overseas to the European market. We started meeting with the Italians, marveling at their tailoring and fine lines, and began to bring the look to Louis. Every year, for about 20 years, we would travel to New York City, London, Paris, Milan, and Florence. Went to the shows, and showrooms, and met with every famous designer you can think of: Pierre Cardin, Gianfranco Ferré, Gianni Versace, etc., etc. We were hooked up with the best of the best.

It was fascinating, and quite a ride to be with Murray. He was a fiery man who knew what he wanted. He had a vision, and he had a passion that was just incredible. It was contagious, and I captured all I knew from him.

I traveled and bought with Murray for a very long time before Debi came into the business and continued to evolve the store. I was happy to become the Vice President of Sales and Merchandising, and my passion for the business never changed. There is no place like Louis. I never looked back.

From the concept shop “DOWN with Louis,” to the two locations we had at one time in Faneuil Hall, to the shops in Cambridge and Chestnut Hill, to our home of 20 years at the old Bonwit Teller building, which is now only known as “the old Louis building,” it’s been an incredible life in fashion.

Jamie:

What did you think of our move to the Fan Pier?

Arthur:

The move was characteristic of the Pearlstein family. Murray had tremendous strength and insight, and Debi is the same way. I think that’s been the bottom line of the success of Louis. She and her father took all the heat this town could throw at them, but they were both leaders and always made dynamic choices. I traveled with Murray for many years and got to know him very well. I feel like I know Debi well too, and understand her choices because she wouldn’t have it any other way. She is direct and I will always have an incredible respect for her and all that she has accomplished. I know a lot of people gave her a hard time for moving, but she hung in there – she changed the way she was buying and kept thing moving forward. It was interesting, and quite rewarding, to see the people who doubted the move eventually come out of their comfort zone of Newbury Street to see what we were doing on the waterfront. One after the other, people would walk into the store and it was as if a lightbulb went on over their head, and they finally got what this evolution was all about. The evolution of Louis is what’s kept it alive. Business has been great to this very day, and it will be good to go out on a very high note.

It’s been a great run of 85 years, and I have 47 in.

Not bad.

Jamie:

Looking back, what really made Louis special for you?

Arthur:

Special? Louis has always been special in so many ways, but the thing that stands out to me the most is the dedication both Debi and her father had for always wanting to have the best store in the world – and to merchandise it the way no others do. Instead of trying to have what everyone else has, Louis has always had what Louis had – its own looks and styles. And to this day, the same holds true, and it’s why so many customers continue to love this place I’ve called home for so long. I enjoy having customers from all over the country and all over the world, and I appreciate that while they come to Boston for so many things (education, banking, etc.) they continually patronize the store. Over the years we’ve collected an incredible amount of people who are regular clients. Simply put, I know they love and appreciate this store.

Jamie:

Besides the respect from your clients and colleagues, what do you attribute to your longevity at Louis to?

Arthur:

Well, I didn’t really have a goal to get into retail, but I was young, and liked the clothing, and enjoyed myself. Getting to Louis and meeting Murray was inspiring and led to wonderful things. I don’t know what he saw in me, but I’m still here, so that’s something. But I have to say, he probably fired me at least a dozen times. One day we were walking down the street and I said, “Murray, you’ve fired me at least a dozen times – and I’m still here.” I paused and said, “What does that say about you?” He just chuckled and walked away. I was here to stay and we both knew it.

Jamie: …and once Louis closes?

Well, Our customers are asking where they can shop. There’s no other place like Louis, and quite honestly I’m not sure where to direct them. There is no good answer. Louis has always been the whole package, and we have merchandise you just can’t buy in other stores. You have been hand picking every item in the store, and creating fabrication and cut. You can find Kiton at Neiman’s but it will look nothing like the Kiton you would find at Louis.

Jamie:

If you could leave your customers with one piece of advice, what would it be?

Arthur:

There are no experts, only people with opinions.

I want people to know that they can’t dress for other people. I’m no expert, but I’ve helped a lot of people and seen some amazing things, and it’s a wonderful feeling to help someone and give them confidence.

The “Louis Look” puts checks and plaids and stripes together – but some men shied away because they lacked the confidence to go for it. I encourage you all to go for it, and when someone shakes their head don’t let them shake your confidence.

Jamie:

What’s next for you Arthur?

Arthur:

Customers are asking, “Where are you going?” But I honestly don’t know. I’m listening to offers and thinking about things. I could, but certainly don’t plan to retire. I still have gas in the tank and want to be in action.

This is what I do, so stay tuned for the next chapter of Arthur Jordan.

Arthur Jordan and Joseph Abboud

Arthur Jordan and Joseph Abboud

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Arthur Jordan, Featured in Esquire Magazine

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Arthur’s Original Business Card From “DOWN with Louis”

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Recognition from Esquire Magazine

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Arthur’s Mentor – Murray Pearlstein

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Arthur Jordan / Model

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Arthur Jordan on the left, Modeling for Louis

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Arthur Jordan – Modeling for Louis

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Arthur Jordan – Modeling for Louis

THIS Is Appreciation

From the time I was a young girl, growing up with all things Louis, I was taught many things. But the one thing that always stood out above the others was:

Don’t forget your customer.

Last week I was reading another piece by Cathy Horyn, a fashion writer for New York Magazine, and her message was the same. In the midst of all the business and frenzy – we can’t forget about who is wearing and buying the clothes.

At Louis, things begin and end with our customers. We never want to dictate what they should be wearing, we want to understand what they want, and create an atmosphere and curate collections of clothing that will make them feel they can be exactly who they want to be, but maybe a little bit better. We introduce change and newness and technology in fabric that they might not even know they need in their wardrobe. But once they incorporate it into their lives, they know they do. Retail has, and always will be the reason people go out to buy something NEW.

**

While the weather and other insanity around the world have been taxing on the retail business, you wouldn’t know it if you walked into my tailor shop. Over the last few weeks I’ve noticed that it’s practically overflowing, and that tells me that what I have been doing all these years really did make a difference in our city. And it tells me that our customers are making sure they take advantage of an experience like Louis, before we close our doors.

And I’m honored because of it.

It shows me that our customers understand what it means to walk into a store and have someone anticipate their needs and wants. They know that we know what’s in their closet and how to update their look… one last time.

It has been immensely rewarding to see our customers come in and buy with appreciation, knowing that the experience will soon be gone. I may not say it often enough, but it’s truly rewarding to me to know that they understood. And it means everything to me that they have developed relationships with all of the talented, exceptional sales consultants who have shown such a steadfast commitment to what they do.

A lot of customers have begun to ask, “Where will we go now?” To be honest, it makes me feel a little badly about closing, because I don’t really know how to answer them adequately knowing that, right now, there is not another experience in Boston quite like Louis.

However, I am deeply appreciative of the fact that they appreciate THIS. While press and awards are nice, nothing compares to the rewarding feeling I have lately, knowing people really do get it.

I talk a lot about the changing landscape of retail and fashion, but I hope there are things that find their way back to the authentic place they used to be. Ecommerce may take it down for a while, but once people realize they’re missing the human touch, they might appreciate it once again. I’m hopeful.

I just wanted to say that because of you I feel appreciated for what I did and what Louis stood for, and what it will stand for until we close our doors.

Thank you for making me feel appreciated!

 

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The End of an Era

It’s been quite interesting, reading all of the articles that have come out since last Friday when it was announced that I have begun preparation to close the doors of our beloved Louis this July.

Regardless of the speculation of our critics, moving to the Fan Pier was the best decision I have ever made for Louis. While my family has been in love with Boston for nearly a century, the thing that kept us relevant was the fact that we were forward thinkers and believed in evolution.

I am grateful for Joe Fallon, for sharing his vision with me and for introducing the rest of you to the gorgeous, undiscovered property that has been our home since 2010. If you ever gazed out of our windows or sat on the balcony of Sam’s while sipping a cold beer, you know what I’m talking about. If you haven’t, you’ve been missing out.

To reiterate, business has been on point and invigorated by young CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund winners including Tim Coppens, Paul Andrew, Public School, Proenza Schouler, and Jason Wu. We were further inspired lately by the beautiful minds of Simone Rocha, Rosie Assouline, Jonathan Simkhai, Jacquemus, Greg Lauren, Baja East, and countless others. Traveling around the globe 5 months each year and getting to know each and every one of them personally has been my pleasure and I am grateful for the art and discovery.

I have been choosing what Boston’s most fashionable would wear for decades, and now it’s time to make some choices for myself. I look forward to this early retirement and all that it will afford me, including spending valuable time with the people who have exercised incredible patience while I have been focused on the store. Furthermore, I am excited to pursue interest and passions, both personally and in the community, that I have only dreamed about until now.

To the naysayers of this announcement, we expected you, and we appreciate your interest.

For our supporters, we thank you – for patronizing Louis. We are grateful for the posts, comments and tweets that acknowledge Louis as a beacon of light in Boston fashion. Trust us, we are going to miss you just as much as you are going to miss us.

Like you have said, it is the end of an era – a wonderful, fashion filled, evolving era.

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The Lost Art of Outerwear

Perhaps you’ve noticed that over time different categories in fashion have all but been eliminated from the shopping experience. I can think of at least two of them that are centered in and around the extreme changes in the weather found in New England – the place we all so fondly call home – regardless of how much we need them.

Like you, I too wait with baited breath for the warmth to come after a long, drawn out, cold New England winter…and often non-existent spring. And, perhaps like you, I wait until at least June – after I’ve seen the sunshine for more than 5 minutes – before I even begin to think about shopping for a bathing suit. The issue is that by the time we all feel brave enough to stand under the florescent lights in an unforgiving dressing room, the bathing suits have been marked down considerably and warm sweaters and tall boots are beginning to emerge from the stock room.

As a result, bathing suits, historically a rather large category, are simply getting lost in the shuffle. We don’t even know they’re there before it’s too late and the retail season is coming to a close. A great bathing suit is difficult enough to find, especially if they’ve become nearly obsolete from department stores. Well, some still carry a small assortment, but it’s certainly not what it used to be.

Actually, it’s nothing like it used to be.

The same holds true for outerwear.

People, we live in New England, and to be honest we really can’t afford to have the same thing happen to this category as well. We’re not in California, it really does get freezing here, and during the winter months we need to wear a coat every day to endure the brutality of the season. We really need variations of outerwear in the region because A.) The weather gets really, really cold, and B.) Who wants to wear the same coat over and over and over again?

And can we just talk about “puffers” for a minute?

I don’t need to call out brands, you know who they are, but is it really necessary to reach for a “puffer” every time you venture outside? I get that we have some really cold, crummy, awful days around here…and I get that you can roll it up in a ball and stick it in the washing machine to fluff it up again…and I get that it keeps you warm, BUT it’s not appropriate for every scenario in your life, and I hate to break the news but they really don’t look so great…on anyone.

Do you think the new “shiny” puffers are helping matters?

Don’t answer. It’s a rhetorical question.

Because certain regions in the country (including us) have such a dire need for outerwear during the winter months, you would think the category would be exploding with function and creativity. But it isn’t. Or should I say, it hasn’t been.

And because we have fallen into the habit of reaching for what has become, for lack of a better term, the lowest common denominator in outwear, our heads have been down and we’ve been missing the fact that some people are doing some amazingly new and different things with coats these days. Especially this season where I really saw designers taking fabric with vastly different properties and putting their efforts back into outerwear.

From Proenza Schouler’s wool and neoprene wonders to Jason Wu’s wool and shearling creations to Lucas Nascimento‘s modern interpretation of the 1940’s to Jonathan Saunder’s clever patchwork designs, there seems to be new life circulating around an old “category.”

Fabulous!

Last month we had some incredibly warm neoprene pieces from Jacquemus, and this month they are sold out completely – and we’re just coming to the end of October. Which leads me to believe that some people are packing away their puffers and really starting to get it.

Jonathan Saunders

Jonathan Saunders

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Proenza Schouler

Lucas Nascimento

Lucas Nascimento

Lucas Nascimento

Lucas Nascimento

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jason Wu

Jacquemus

Jacquemus

Jacquemus

Jacquemus

Alice Roi

Alice Roi

 

Discover Kiton, Cashmere for Fall. Luxury Like No Other.

I would hope this goes without saying, but it’s important that you understand I’m not just out here preaching about EXPERIENCE and APPRECIATION. I live it.

I want you to know that I don’t buy for Louis, and ultimately for you, from my computer. Doing so would be insulting to all of us, including the artists/designers who work tirelessly to craft impeccable garments that must be seen and touched to be appreciated. In my every effort to keep Louis looking and feeling like Louis, and make sure it never morphs into a “trendy” department store, I step out from behind my own computer and travel the world so I can ensure that the pieces I intentionally bring back to Boston are like nothing you’ve seen or touched before.

With that said…

While we’ve all been enjoying the sights and sounds and smells of the summer we never thought would begin, I find myself looking forward to seeing the leaves change color and feeling the slight chill that Autumn brings to Boston every September. New items for the season have finally started to make their way to the store, and while I am excited by every piece that comes in, none excite me quite like the menswear that has arrived from Kiton – especially their cashmere.

If you live in Boston, you simply have to have a different kind of appreciation for cashmere. We all need outerwear that’s deliciously warm, and while a puffy down parka will suffice, albeit awkwardly over a suit, it will never look and feel as luxurious as cashmere. In menswear, most outerwear cloth is purposely created to be an in-between weight that translates just fine in other parts of the world, but it just doesn’t work here in New England. Do you remember last winter?

When you visit Louis you will see cashmere from Kiton you likely won’t see anywhere else. From luxurious overcoats crafted from 600 grahams of blanket soft and incredibly warm cashmere, to lightweight cashmere jackets that look wintery, but feel comfortably cool. Offered in rich palettes that include beautiful browns, bright blues, and interesting olives, it’s immediately apparent that the man who shops here simply isn’t interested in adding another navy blazer to his wardrobe. The man who shops here is looking for depth and dimension, and Kiton delivers.

Not only will you see things here that you likely won’t see elsewhere, the shopping experience at Louis is also quite different. While other stores only offer “try on” pieces in navy or gray, along with fabric swatches to confuse you and make you wonder what your garment will actually look like once your order comes in, we want to do better. And we do so by investing where others won’t.

The bottom line is, when I visit the Kiton showroom I like to take some risks. Risks that other stores won’t take because having pieces handmade in interesting (and expensive) fabrics to carry in inventory is just not within their comfort level. Perhaps they don’t have enough confidence in their buyers, or perhaps they don’t have enough confidence in you. So in the end, they put the risk on you – with a navy “try on” and a 6-inch swatch.

Me? I’m I more than willing to take that “risk” because I have confidence in Kiton, I have confidence in my experience as a buyer after all of these years, and I have confidence in you.

Kiton has a taste level that’s unparalleled in the industry. They are the best at what they do, and I have no problem investing in the best.

Once you come in to DISCOVER and APPRECIATE the Kiton tradition of luxury, you won’t be able to live without it either.

Trust me. Try it on.

 

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Thomas Tait – He Belongs To The World Now

If you’re into design – and if you’re reading this I know that you are – you already know that Canadian-born, London-trained designer Thomas Tait won the Inaugural LVMH Young Fashion Designer Prize yesterday.

What you may not know is that I literally searched for and found Thomas Tait when he was finishing his MA at Central Saint Martins in London way back in 2010. Shortly after he won the Dorchester Collection fashion prize that year I saw his work in an editorial spread in some British fashion publication. I sent my assistant on a wild chase, and of course she found him, and we met for the first time in his publicist’s office.

If memory serves, he had 10 pieces in his first collection, and in January of 2011 I placed my order for fall. After that we were the only store in the US to carry his line – for at least two seasons. Since that time, WWD is reporting that Tait has found a home in only 10 specialty stores…and that number still includes LOUiS!

When I reflect on what it was about Thomas that made me fall for his work, I know it was because he fulfilled my never-ending quest to find something new. I’m never interested in regurgitation, but I am always interested in innovation that moves fashion forward. And that is what he is doing! Also, I had done a lot of work with Jil Sander in the 90’s and Thomas’s minimalist approach and astute attention to the detail of his craft reminded me so much of her. If you’ve ever seen a piece from any of his collections you know that nothing he creates leaves the factory until the garment is absolutely perfect, inside and out. These are not qualities you can learn necessarily, they are qualities you are born with.

Yesterday, after hearing the news, I was thrilled to be able to send him a text message to congratulate him and let him know how proud I was of him and all that he has now accomplished. His endearing response of, “I can’t wait to tell you all about it,” left me feeling, well…special.

Then I got this text from an old friend I approached about investing in Thomas Tait years ago:

“I should have listened to you.”

That was all it said.

And this is where things become bittersweet for me because I know that Thomas Tait belongs to the world now. My hope is that the industry will do their job well and continue to elevate him, with respect, to exactly where he should be.

Of the 11 finalists in the LVMH New Designer competition, Louis carries 8 of them; so now there are 7 other designers, including Suno, Simon Porte Jacquemus, Tim Coppens, and Simone Rocha, yet to be discovered at 60 Northern Ave. Are you going to wait for LVMH to tell you how spectacular they are, or should you simply come and see so for yourself?

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Haus Alkire Trunk Show Saturday, 4/13

Join Louis in welcoming designers Julie Haus and Jason Alkire of Haus Alkire for a trunk show event this Saturday, April 13 from 11am to 4pm. Preview their Swarovski sponsored F/W 2013 collection which will be available for pre-order. Their S/S 2013 collection is available to shop in store.

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Jennifer Chun at Louis Exposure!

 

It’s our last weekend of Louis Exposure and we can’t think of a better person to celebrate with than Jennifer Chun.  Her confident, modern and fun styles are one of our very favorites for this season of Exposure!

 

Jennifer will be here in person to show her Spring/Summer collection as well as take pre-orders on her Fall line.  Come be styled by the designer herself!

 

 

http://www.jennifer-chun.com/