Restoration Hardware's New University Village Home Is One Major Maison

| FROM THE PRINT EDITION |
 
 
Alex Crook

No, the new four-story structure in University Village isn’t another parking garage. It’s 60,000 square feet of the new design gallery from Restoration Hardware (RH), one of only eight such stores in the U.S. The gallery space, which opened in November, averages five to six times the size of RH’s legacy stores, and features RH’s home furnishings displayed in artistic vignettes to simulate a gallery—a different experience from RH’s other retail stores. (A new retailer for the former RH store location in University Village will be announced this year.)

 

Each RH Gallery store reflects elements of the city in which it’s located. RH Seattle celebrates Washington’s fresh air and natural environment, with an expansive garden terrace and rooftop conservatory that features white crepe myrtle trees. Inside, the gallery boasts 13-foot ceilings and grand double floating staircases, and also houses the brand’s Design Atelier, a 4,000-square-foot workspace for shoppers to receive personalized interior design services. 

The RH Gallery blurs the line between residential and retail, so grab your Starbucks from across the street and head over. You may want to move in. University Village, Restoration Hardware Gallery, 4645 26th Ave. NE; 206.522.2775; restorationhardware.com 

Who's the Boss? At Armoire, a New Clothing Subscription Service, You Are

Who's the Boss? At Armoire, a New Clothing Subscription Service, You Are

Seattle's new wardrobe rental service offers personalized style for the working woman, aka, the "boss lady"
| Posted
 
 
Fashion in a box: Armoire delivers high-end clothing to women, without the hassle of shopping.

It’s a daily struggle, trying to figure out what to wear. Whether it's hours spent rifling through your closet, scouring websites for the missing piece in your wardrobe or hustling in and out of dressing rooms, finding the right threads can be a drain on your time, energy and sanity.

Enter Armoire.

Billed as a “closet as a service," Armoire is a wardrobe rental startup offering monthly clothing subscription services, similar to box models like Birchbox or Graze. The company emerged from the MIT Accelerator Program, an entrepreneurship program designed to aid startups. The newly-formed company recently relocated to Seattle, headed by CEO Ambika Singh, whose love for clothes began at age 10 with cross-country wardrobe swaps with her cousin.


Armoire CEO Ambika Singh. Photo Credit: Timothy Anaya

“I love trying new things in all aspects of my life, and my wardrobe is no exception,” Singh says. “I’ve been sharing clothes with the women in my life since as long as I can remember. As a result, when I was introduced to the concept of clothing rental, it made perfect sense to me. I loved that I could wear things a few times and then share them with others, adding variety to my wardrobe while reducing the clutter in my closet. Additionally, I was pleased to be doing my part to ease the strain the apparel industry puts on the planet.”

Related: Cuniform, a Sustainable Styling Agency, is Goodwill Indeed


How does it work? Using a combination of algorithms, current fashion trends and input from customers, Armoire offers personalized, curated closet sets for women based on their individual style preferences. Without the hassle of closet clutter and time-consuming shopping trips, Armoire offers customers access to high-end items (an average retail of $300), including shipping and maintenance costs, for the beta subscription price of $149 a month.

The algorithm works with customers’ personal preferences of cuts, colors and fabrics and they receive four pieces for their wardrobe. Customers can rent the items for as long as they want, or even purchase them at deep retail discounts. Clothing choices include pieces from brands like Ministry of SupplyBrass and Of Mercer, and feature work-appropriate (but stylish) dresses, separates and coats, as well as “Friday Night” pieces and cocktail wear.


For $149 a month, Armoire subscribers get high-end fashion pieces delivered to their door. No endless online shopping required. Photo Credit: Timothy Anaya

“We tested this idea with over 500 women last year, and there was a resounding sentiment that having access to an endless stream of personalized items without the hassle of shopping sounded like magic,” Singh says. “Our service is targeted to the modern, busy woman—or as we like to affectionately refer to her: the boss lady. She is smart, efficient, busy and most of all, high achieving at work and at play. This is her identity, and she needs a wardrobe and a service to keep up with her busy lifestyle. We are building a service and brand that caters to her.”

Singh is indeed the model of a boss lady, with her finger on the pulse of women’s style needs in Seattle while operating her fashion start up. 

“Being a Seattleite myself, I don’t think that it’s a huge surprise that the Armoire concept is nicely symbiotic for Seattle boss ladies,” Singh says. “Our goal is to efficiently dress our customers in something that makes them feel great—and feeling great means stylish, polished and at pace with their lifestyles.”

“I am super inspired by our customers and learning about the amazing work they do,” Singh continues. “We have customers ranging from life-saving surgeons to top-tier management consultants, venture capitalists to tech CEOs, and incredibly hardworking mothers of two, three and even four children. I am inspired by the fact that we are doing our small part to enable these women to spend their time doing what they do best instead of worrying about what they are going to wear. When a customer writes in to tell us how Armoire made a difference or fulfilled a unfilled need, it’s what fuels what we do.”