Shirt Shop Priced Out of LES Finds New Digs on Madison Ave.
LOWER EAST SIDE — A custom shirt boutique that was priced out of the Lower East Side is opening an appointment-only studio on Madison Avenue.
After its 20 Clinton St. storefront space was recently sold, 20 Peacocks is shutting down on Sunday and will move its design-your-own-shirt concept to a studio space at 99 Madison Ave. near East 30th Street on Oct. 1.
Owner Hillary Flowers said the move to a cheaper space off the street will ward off some of the immense pressure for retail stores to make rent, and allow her to focus on what she really cares about: making shirts people love.
"It is going to take away so much anxiety and it gives you a chance to live," said Flowers, a Brooklyn resident who has lived in New York City for a decade. “I love the business — the design aspect and working with my customers,”
Flowers only recently took over the 7-year-old shop, after former owner Mehdi Kabbaj was struck and killed in an accident on the FDR Drive in January 2012. She joined 20 Peacocks after Kabbaj's death and was later handed control of the store by his widow, Adrianne Brit.
"I knew after Medhi passed away that I wasn't going to keep running the store," Brit said. "This was great because I knew the concept would continue in some way."
The Clinton Street storefront was previously owned by 20 Peacocks, but the business recently sold its ground-floor location, and if Flowers had stayed, she would have had to start paying rent to the new landlord on Oct. 1, she said.
Flowers had previously owned a boutique nearby on Clinton Street and said she had no desire to pay another expensive rent in the neighborhood, and she also didn't want to have to maintain regular retail hours.
"It was a financial and scheduling decision," said Flowers, who also manages fashion shows.
In the new location, Flowers hopes to expand 20 Peacocks' products to custom suits, ties and pocket squares. She also plans to venture into custom clothing for women.
For now, though, the business focuses solely on shirts for men, allowing customers to choose the fabric, collar, cuffs, thread and buttons. The shirts, which start at $165, are manufactured in Hong Kong, Italy and the United States, depending on the style.
"They get to design their own shirt — their dream shirt," she said. "When the fit is good and people are really happy with what they designed and they come back — that is the buzz."