After years of success having its clothing sold in stores like Nordstrom and Bloomingdales, Lafayette 148 New York launched its own West Coast flagship store last week at South Coast Plaza in Costa Mesa.
“It’s going to be a happy discovery for our customers,” said Debra Gunn Downing, South Coast Plaza’s executive director of marketing.
Lafeyette 148 focuses on sportswear for professional women. Its new store boasts a clean, modern aesthetic that echoes its apparel design.
The South Coast Plaza opening marks Lafayette 148’s first direct foray into West Coast retail. Costa Mesa was a natural choice, said Lafayette 148 cofounder and CEO Deirdre Quinn.
“Honestly, we picked where we wanted to go,” said Quinn. “Being in this location is huge for us. It’s going to be incredible; it’s like a dream come true.”
“It’s one of the most prestigious, famous malls in the country,” Lafayette 148 Creative Director Emily Smith said. “We’re so excited. We’re just starting in the retail world.”
The brand’s design priorities are timelessness, wearability, consistency, fit and attention to detail, Quinn said. Their fashions are available in 58 sizes.
“Everything is very minimal and clean, architectural, with a playful twist,” Smith said. “It’s fashion that women can actually wear. It’s really about making a busy woman’s life easy.”
The company is woman-run, Quinn said, so it has a built-in “panel” of women employees who can try styles and discuss what they themselves would like to wear.
“We get our client,” Quinn said. “We get her busy life. When you put on something you love, you don’t have to worry about if you look good. You feel good, and you can believe in it.”
She said the brand can serve as an antidote to today’s focus on fast fashion, which gets thrown out or donated after a season, while still offering on-trend pieces.
“You should be able to build on your wardrobe,” Quinn said. “We don’t box the Lafayette customer in.”
Lafayette 148 is privately owned. Quinn said this means the company is able to focus on its reputation, relationships and product quality more than other brands might have the latitude to do.
“We’ve bought the same white shirt fabric for the past 22 years from the same mill,” Quinn said.
At the opening, Lafayette 148 also announced that it will donate 10% of local retail sales to Costa Mesa-based organization Girls Inc. of Orange County through the end of December.
“A lot of the girls that we work with aspire to be fashion designers,” said Lucy Santana-Ornelas, chief executive of Girls Inc. of Orange County. “What we strive for and promote and encourage is for girls to pursue non-traditional careers.”
Santana hopes her girls will see Quinn as a role model while they build their own futures.
“I started this company with a desk and a phone,” Quinn said, about 148 Lafayette Street in SoHo, where the company still maintains a retail location.
Now the global brand has several stores in China and a formidable online presence.
“What comes to mind today is the phrase ‘dream big,’ ” Quinn said. “It’s overwhelming.”
For more information, visit lafayette148.com.