At the site of the former Paul Smith Flatiron boutique now sits North Sails, a little known brand with a 59-year heritage that’s finally entering the new territory of retail with the opening of its first New York outpost. North Sails is well respected in the sailing community, known as the #1 sailmaker in the field, which has been the company’s lifeblood since it was opened in 1957 by Lowell North. In all, North Sails holds more national, world and Olympic class victories and world records than all other sailmaker combined. However, you won’t find any of those world class sails on display at the 108 5th Avenue shop.
Instead, their sailmaking technology has been reinterpreted into intelligently designed men’s and women’s garments. These range from the obvious, like windbreakers and swim trunks, to the unexpected, like neoprene navy blazers and tailored trousers more suited for land. Upon visiting, it’s easy to see that the store is inspired by all things water and wind. The floors are made of teak, resembling a sailboat deck, and most of the mannequins sport GoPro H20 Ninja snorkeling masks – yours for just $164.99.
What is perhaps most sea-centric is the bottled water bar. Designed by Lex van Opstal, the concept treats the 20 varietals on hand like a fine wine or aged whisky. The “international water selection” includes classic and flavored options for purchase from Finland, France, and yes, even New Jersey. “The moment consumers walk into our flagship store, we are committed to ensuring they receive a unique shopping experience,” said Fred Grover, CEO of North Sails Apparel, told us via e-mail. “With service and quality top of mind, ordering a drink from the water bar offers a relaxing and inviting environment for guests as they shop the seasonal collections.”