Time was, Upper East Siders had to push their designer strollers quite a few blocks to reach a single shop that sold cashmere mittens for infants or pima cotton polos for toddlers.
Not anymore. Children’s clothing boutiques have taken the neighborhood by storm, joining a few relative old-timers that opened in the 1980’s and 90’s. The stretch of Madison Avenue between 80th and 92nd streets boasts some 20 stores for tots, and the community Web site uppereast.com lists close to 50 in the immediate vicinity.
Jacadi is a French label moving a few blocks south from its current location to a more spacious location at 1242 Madison Avenue, at 89th Street. The store, which inked the lease in late January, will take possession of the larger, 2,700-square-foot space at the end of the month. Jacadi has another outpost that opened at 67th Street and Madison in 1988.
Jacadi has plenty of company. The British designer Rachel Riley brought her smocked dresses and tiny seersucker blazers to 92nd Street and Madison in September 2005, following Baby Cottons, the purveyors of oh-so-soft natural fabrics for babies, which opened three blocks down in January 2007. They joined several other recent retail arrivals whose window displays can be tough to spot from across the street because the clothes are so small. Big-name stores such as Talbot’s Kids and Pottery Barn’s children’s clothing store, Threads, have also set up shop nearby over the years.
An influx of young families combined with the Upper East Side’s reputation for boutique shopping and elite private schools have driven the recent trend, says Faith Hope Consolo, who chairs Prudential Douglas Elliman’s retail leasing and sales division. Ms. Consolo brokered the Jacadi deal for the landlord, as well as the Rachel Riley deal and several others.
“It’s just the neighborhood that draws children,” she said. Most of the boutiques’ clientele lives in the neighborhood, above 86th Street.
Children’s stores are starting to open in family-packed Park Slope, too, but Ms. Consolo, whose firm also does extensive business in Brooklyn, predicts it will take time for that neighborhood’s retail to catch up to its residential growth.
Meanwhile, kids seem to be making their presence felt in another kind of neighborhood commercial establishment. Writing to The New York Times’ City section recently, a reader noted a “disturbing trend on the Upper East Side: parents sitting their children at bars among cavorting adults.” This week, the neighborhood blog 78thand2nd.com proclaimed “More Babies In UES Bars” and urged readers to send in their infant sightings.