Mr. Goldstein observed that his customer was carrying a Louis Vuitton bag and wearing a Rolex. “She doesn’t even want my sale stuff. She’s embarrassed,” he said with a confident smirk. “It’s called retail profiling.”
Noticing such details are points of pride for Mr. Goldstein. What he lacks in formal fashion expertise he makes up for in firsthand knowledge of the private-school-educated, Upper West Side-bred, vacationing-in-the-Hamptons New York cool kids with whom he grew up.
On this particular day, the tall, green-eyed, gesticulating proprietor was wearing baggy jeans, an indigo T-shirt that read Blue & Cream and Nike sneakers striped in white and blue. “I don’t wear blue and white every day,” he insisted. Sometimes, when “lamping” in the Hamptons à la Jay-Z, he sports sweatsuits and a baseball hat cocked to the side. “The Lamptons is a slang word that me and my friends used since we were like 10 or 11 years old going to the Hamptons on weekends,” he explained. “We would always be like, ‘We’re going to the Lamptons,’ meaning lounging in the Hamptons.”
Growing up on the Upper West Side, Mr. Goldstein attended Hunter, the high-pressure, admission-by-exam school in a former armory on 94th Street, from kindergarten to senior year, by which point he had become known for organizing parties with his best friend, Mike Heller (who now owns a company that brokers “appearance” deals for celebrity clients like Ms. Lohan).
“I aggregated a bunch of popular girls and guys from private schools and created a committee similar to what you see with the charity committees these days,” he said. “By default, I was the chairman of the committee and it would be Shoshanna Lonstein from Nightingale, Claire Bernard from Riverdale, Mark Ronson deejaying. Anyone who graduated high school from ’93 to ’96 should remember it.”
The designer Charlotte Ronson, who has been friends with Mr. Goldstein since they rode the crosstown bus together as teenagers, remembered one such party, called Capitol, organized in the old Chippendale’s space on 61st and First Avenue.
“It was like the show Gossip Girl, but perhaps a little bit more tame,” recalled Ms. Stahl, who attended Chapin.
Mr. Goldstein graduated from Skidmore and became a real estate investment banker for five years. (His mother, Patricia Goldstein, is a high-ranking executive at Emigrant Bank.) Then one night he discovered Swamp, a former Andy Warhol hangout that had gone stale, and convinced its owners that he and Mr. Heller could freshen it up as “the Star Room.” And they did—flying in celebrity guests from Los Angeles and landing in Page Six with a satisfying thump.
This led to “producing” more sponsored events at clubs in the Hamptons and Manhattan; then the coup of a Grammy party at mogul Ron Burkle’s house in Los Angeles, honoring Mariah Carey’s Emancipation of Mimi album. “The mayor of Beverly Hills was there, Jamie Foxx, Chris Tucker, Paris Hilton, Kirsten Dunst, Jessica Simpson and Britney Spears—it was the crème de la crème event,” Mr. Goldstein said. “But the next day I felt unfulfilled, I felt empty. I just thought how can this ever be better than this?”
Walking through East Hampton in May of 2004, he discovered a vacant storefront in East Hampton with jewelry cases still in place from the previous tenant. He thought they’d be perfect for displaying high-end sneakers.
While Mr. Goldstein’s solicitous verbal marketing toward his customers is often charming, he can also seem abrasive, even rude, at times. (This reporter’s first interaction with him involved a hung-up phone and mentions of his lawyer.) But this may just be the necessary fallout from his perfectionism.
Giving a tour of his Bowery store, Mr. Goldstein turned into a real estate agent, energetically pointing out the raw concrete floors, exposed ceilings, even the clothing racks. Everything is in the details.
“I always feel like there something more to do, and I don’t mean that in an overachiever way; I say that as something that really does plague me,” he said. “I’m unsatisfied with those women who came in and left. I’m worried that they’re not going to perceive Blue & Cream for what it is.”
Mr. Goldstein can often be found Windexing the glass and picking up dust balls in his stores as his sales staff looks on. Sometimes he wakes up and jots down notes to himself about stuff like the placement and size of clothing racks.