Store spotlight: marc allen, rhode island

by Karen Alberg Grossman
MarcStreisand
Marc Streisand

Few specialty retailers are adding stores these days; fewer still are basing their business on upscale custom clothing; and virtually no one is generating sales per square foot close to $6,000. But Marc Streisand writes his own rulebook: with two physical stores in Rhode Island (the newer one in Newport) and a full custom showroom recently opened in Boston, Marc Allen continues to gain both customers and press. (The Boston showroom, run by David Morra and concentrating on made-to-measure, has generated more than $600,000 in sales out of a 15×15 foot space for three years in a row.)

Company growth has come quickly. Two years ago, Streisand completely renovated his original 750-sq- ft Providence store (which opened in March 2005), expanding it to 1,700 sq ft including a second floor custom lounge and bar (which has won design awards). “It’s like a gigantic man-cave where customers stop by and hang out. Local corporations can use it for meetings or presentations. We just had a group from Morgan Stanley here for a four-hour meeting, which landed me 15 new custom clothing customers,” he says.

And with made-to-measure clothing opening at $1,595 and bespoke at $3,595, Marc Allen customers are luxury customers. “We’re one of only six Loro Piana accounts to sell their sable-lined baby cashmere coats that retail for $40,000,” Streisand notes with obvious pride.

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IMG_2620Other success secrets:

  • Streisand started his career as an image consultant in NYC and has a genuine passion for putting people together to enhance how they look and feel. His one-on-one consultations and closet clean-outs are the bread & butter of his business.
  • His stores carry bolts of fabrics rather than simple swatches. Over the years, he’s worked most closely with Gladson fabrics; “Mickey Solomon has been so gracious in his willingness to help me out…even letting me work from his showroom with my Bespoke clients in NYC.”
  • He’s paired up with RISD over the years, sponsoring many high-profile events and also setting up an apprenticeship program for RISD students.
  • While most of the his volume is benchmade clothing, he also does a nice business in sportcoats/sportswear from luxury brands such as Loro Piana, Partenopea, Montodoro and Maurizio Baldassari, often with a Marc Allen label. (He recently had an 87 percent sell-through on 60 sportcoats retailing from $1,295-$3,195.) While the Providence business is fairly conservative, what sells in Newport is color, i.e. sportcoats in jewel tones of purple, pink and orange.  He also does well with shirts from NE Shirt Company at retails from $175-$695.
  • He’s recently invested in a gorgeous cherrywood mobile “style van” from which he markets and sells custom clothing door-to-door. “It’s a video production van that’s virtually a regular showroom, allowing me to sell all over New England. It’s been very exciting for me!”
  • He also sponsors charity auctions and golf classics, many with hig- profile celebrities.

FullSizeRendervanWith sales that have quadrupled in recent years, Streisand can teach us all a thing or two about selling high-end clothing. Congrats, Marc: we’re taking notes!