MANHATTAN — The ever-changing, but always elegant face of the toniest stretch of Madison Avenue — from East 57th to 86th streets — saw 20 new stores open in the last six months, according a list released Thursday by the Madison Avenue Business Improvement District.
But only one specializes exclusively in clothing made from the musk ox, a shaggy-haired pre-historic-looking mammal that has inhabited the Arctic for thousands of years.
The Qiviuk Boutique, which recently moved to 40 E. 58 th St. at Madison Avenue from its space that had opened in 2008 at the Plaza Hotel, was founded by Fernando Alvarez, a native of southern Peru, who calls himself an “entrepreneur, luxury connoisseur and visionary” on his website.
He developed an exclusive agreement with the indigenous communities that manage the rare musk oxen population with an eye toward environmental responsibility. Each spring the musk ox herds shed a soft, downy fleece that Inuit groups have been collecting for centuries
“We originally worked with alpaca, but I soon realized that the only way I could make a real difference for our business — and in the industry in general — was to obtain the absolute best fibers possible,” Alvarez told Luxury Society.
“Back then it was the beginning of the protection of the vicuna. So when a scientist friend of mine at the University of Saskatchewan who knew I was on the lookout for something new asked me to experiment with the fiber of an arctic animal he was researching, I gave it a try.”
Other stores opening along Madison Avenue ranged from brands dating back to the 1800’s, like Faberge and Perrin Paris, to hot new boutiques including Zadig et Voltaire and Rag & Bone — which will be joined Friday by the much-anticipated Proenza Schouler at 882 Madison Ave.
Three of the stores are solely dedicated to men’s fashion (Bottega Veneta Men, Cesare Attolini and Luigi Borrelli), and two of them are art galleries (the Collective Council and the Sundaram Tagore Gallery).
“Madison Avenue has stayed true to its brand as one of the world’s leading luxury shopping and gallery destinations,” said Matthew Bauer, president of the Madison Avenue BID.
But, he added, despite the avenue’s international cachet, “Stores are here because it’s a local market.”
Madison Avenue was hit hard by the economic slump and saw retail rents dip from a high of more than $1,100 a foot in 2008 to just over $700 a year later as vacancies increased, according to the real estate firm Cushman & Wakefield.
Those rents have been on a steady ascent and reached just below $1,100 in the first half of this year, the firm noted.