UPPER WEST SIDE — A Swedish children's clothes store with a socially-conscious streak is moving into the Upper West Side.
Polarn O. Pyret, where parents can outfit their children head-to-toe in certified organic cotton duds crafted at "green" factories, is opening a store at 428 Columbus Ave., near West 81st Street, in late September.
An Upper West Side outpost was a natural next step for the 35-year-old retailer, which started selling its clothes online in the United States in 2009, said Jennifer Athanason, president of Polarn O. Pyret USA.
The Stockholm-based company's research showed that Upper West Siders were "very enthusiastic followers" of Polarn O. Pyret's online store, and when executives scoped out the corner of Columbus Avenue and West 81st Street, they were pleased with the large number of strollers and families they spotted, Athanason said.
With plenty of "aware" consumers on the Upper West Side, the 1,850-square foot store, formerly a hair salon, should find a ready audience for products such as fleece vests made out of recycled plastic bottles, Athanason said.
Company officials also liked the proximity of the tourist friendly American Museum of Natural History, and that cycling store Bicycle Renaissance is right next door, because Polarn O. Pyret specializes in clothes for outdoor play, Athanason said.
Polarn O. Pyret, which means "buddy and the little guy" in Swedish, is known for its outerwear, which is designed to keep kids "warm, happy and dry" during a Swedish winter, Athanason said. The store will stock a full range of outdoorsy gear, from traditional products such as mitten clips, to full-on ski suits and Merino wool balaclavas.
Aside from outdoor-focused clothing, Polarn O. Pyret puts out eight fashion collections a year, all with an emphasis on functionality. Even the party dresses are machine washable.
"We want to make life easy, not only for our kids, but for the parents," Athanason said. "That’s very much a Swedish aesthetic. Life shouldn’t be made more complicated by your clothes."
About a third of each collection is unisex, which is meant to encourage customers to re-use and recycle clothes, Athanason said. "We don't want to feed the culture of throw-away clothes," Athanason said.
The Columbus Avenue store will be Polarn O. Pyret's third U.S. location. It opened a Greenwich, Ct. outpost in 2010, and a TriBeCa store is slated to open this fall.
Polarn O. Pyret plans to support local schools and parent groups on the Upper West Side.
"We want to give back to the neighborhood," Athanason said.