THE APARTNMENT NY
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The Apartment, New York. A question for debate on offline sales

A concept constructed around the consumer: a house with lounge, bedroom, walk-in-closet—almost all of it for sale

On the third floor of a building in Soho, Manhattan, there was a loft housing a 12k-dollar velvet sofa, a 28k-dollar black and white photo by Henri-Cartier Bresson and two 4k-dollar chairs. Plus vintage articles, clothing and cosmetics. Design, fashion, photos—all up for sale, apart from the few objects used merely as scene setters

The concept of The Apartment is constructed around the consumer: the impression you get on entering the showroom is that you have walked into a private home. There is a lounge, bedroom, walk-in-closet—almost all of it for sale. The purchase experience is intended to be slow and relaxing, with the aim of creating an intimate relationship with the consumer and gaining their loyalty. “It is somewhere you can take a breath when all you want to do is throw your phone in the ocean,” explained Vanessa Traina to the The New York Times when the concept was launched in 2014. They recommend you make an appointment. Services on offer include the putting together your own wardrobe with help from a stylist, exploring articles selected ad hoc and personalised just for you, assistance from a consultant in choosing a gift, for designing, redesigning or furnishing your apartment, or even for evaluating product colours, size and materials.

Focusing on slow shopping when the trend is all see now buy now and e-commerce is a risk. In 2016, the overall value on a global level of online shopping grew by 23%, reaching 2,290 billion US dollars, 10% of total retail sales worldwide. The market leaders are the USA and China, which account for 69.1% of the market’s total value. Estimates forecast yet further growth. The figures provided by the US Department of Commerce at the start of 2019 seem, however, to show that offline sales in North America are increasing. In 2018, consumers spent 517.36 billion dollars online, an increase of 15% on the 449.88 billion dollars spent the previous year. Total retail sales, excluding sales of articles not normally bought online (such as fuel, automobiles and food in restaurants), reached 3,628 billion dollars, again 2018, up by 3.9% on the previous year.

The showroom in New York, The Apartment by The Line, closed in February this year. The news had already been published in Business of Fashion in October, when it was announced that lease for the space would probably not be renewed. And it wasn’t. The business continues in the other sales point in Los Angeles and on the e-commerce website The LineThe Apartment is still the offline version of everything you will find at theline.com—but only in Los Angeles.

The Apartment by The Line was conceived in 2013 to act as a bridge linking online and offline sales. Founder Adam Pritzker (36 years old in July, with an MBA from Columbia University where he is currently a board member, from the family who were the original owners of the Hyatt hotel chain) created Assembled Brands, a holding that provided operating capital and financial services to emerging brands and entrusted their creative direction to Vanessa Traina, daughter of the America novelist Danielle Steel. The company received 100 million dollars from Oaktree Capital.

Adam Pritzker’s entrepreneurial activity saw him included on the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and as one of the Business Insider Silicon Valley 100 emerging business people in the Big Apple’s tech firms. In October 2017, he founded Future Now, in collaboration with Jeffrey Sachs, a specialist in development economics at Columbia University, and Daniel Squadron, former senator for the State of New York. Future Now offers state level support to legislative candidates, working with them to achieve America’s Goals for 2030: to reduce conflict, promote gender equality and sustainable energy, and combat climate change, hunger and unemployment (based on the Objectives for Sustainable Development drawn up by the UN in 2015). The launch campaign started in the state of Virginia, with 10 candidates who received 160 thousand dollars in donations from Future Now members.

As mentioned above, Vanessa Traina also collaborates with Pritzker. She was born in San Francisco and studied in Malibu at Pepperdine University, working as a fashion consultant first with Carine Roitfeld at Vogue Paris, then with Marie Amelie Sauve in New York. A beauty ambassador for Chanel in 2009, she has worked with Louis Vuitton, Balenciaga, Joseph Altuzarra, and Alexander Wang, as well as in the world of publishing at The New York Times, Style MagazineWSJMagazine, and i-D. Initially with Pritzker she was in charge of development, creation and marketing of the first three Assembled Brands—The Line, Protagonist and Tenfold—later becoming responsible also for the business’ other brands.

Text Cecilia Dardana


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