Boast Opens Madi­son Av­enue Re­tail Store

WWD Digital Daily - - News - BY JEAN E. PALMIERI

The ten­nis brand was founded in 1973 and is known for its Ja­panese maple-leaf logo.

NEW YORK — Boast has brought its dis­tinct coun­try club aes­thetic to Madi­son Av­enue.

The brand, which was founded in Green­wich, Conn., in 1973 and is known for its Ja­panese maple-leaf logo, has opened a 1,000-square-foot store at 694 Madi­son Av­enue at 62nd Street.

The bou­tique, lo­cated next to Her­mès and Hublot on the up­scale shop­ping street, marks the first true re­tail play for Boast’s chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, Teddy Bretschger, who pur­chased the la­bel a little over a year ago.

Bretschger dipped his toe into the re­tail wa­ters ear­lier this year by open­ing a Boast pop-up at the Kith store on Lafayette Street dur­ing the U.S. Open. He said the pop-up was suc­cess­ful, with many of the pieces sell­ing out, which en­cour­aged him to take the plunge into a per­ma­nent space.

“We thought it would be fun to take Boast, which was a sta­ple of coun­try clubs in the Seven­ties and Eight­ies, and present it in a more nat­u­ral en­vi­ron­ment,” he said. So the shop has a ping-pong ta­ble in the front, a lounge with leather ot­tomans and a backgam­mon ta­ble in the rear, and cases on the walls show­cas­ing vin­tagein­spired coach’s jack­ets with the brand’s maple-leaf logo.

Since pur­chas­ing the brand in Oc­to­ber 2017, Bretschger has added more fashion pieces to com­ple­ment the per­for­manceskewed of­fer­ing.

Bretschger, with a group of in­vestors, bought the brand from John Dowl­ing, who had ac­quired it from the founders — a group of Ivy League squash and ten­nis play­ers from Green­wich — in 2010. Dowl­ing had worked with Andy Spade as a cre­ative con­sul­tant along with Ryan Baben­zien, who served as chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer, and his brother Bren­don Baben­zien, who owns Noah, on the men’s wear.

“The for­mer owners did a good job of bring­ing back the brand, which had been hid­den for a long time,” Bretschger said. “But they took a very lit­eral in­ter­pre­ta­tion of the ten­nis mar­ket and we want to move be­yond that and ex­pand on the Ivy League her­itage of the founders.”

So to aug­ment the ten­nis whites, Boast of­fers a “reimag­ined ten­nis hoodie” with small Ja­panese maple leaf lo­gos all over it; coach’s jack­ets cre­ated through a col­lab­o­ra­tion with Golden Bear; chi­nos; T-shirts; base­ball caps; sweat­shirts, and sweat­pants. Its best­seller is still the warm-up jacket, which re­tails for $140, and its sig­na­ture item is the polo, which sells for $95.

Unique to this store are the Stubbs & Woot­ton slip­pers, week­ender bags and dopp kits, and Prince ten­nis rac­quets and balls. “There are a few more in the pipe­line with Amer­i­can brands that will re­in­force our back­ground and roots,” Bretschger said, adding that he’s plan­ning to name some brand am­bas­sadors from the ten­nis com­mu­nity to fur­ther mar­ket the name.

Although Bretschger’s back­ground is pri­mar­ily in fi­nance, he also has solid fashion ex­pe­ri­ence — and some high-pro­file friends. He worked with his wife, El­iz­a­beth McKay, on her women’s wear line as well as Dee Ocleppo, Tommy Hil­figer’s wife, on her ac­ces­sories line, which was even­tu­ally sold to Kate Spade. “I also worked with Tommy on some of his other brands, but this was a chance to branch out on my own,” Bretschger said.

He grew up in Green­wich and was a ten­nis player, so he was fa­mil­iar with the brand from a young age. “All there was at the time was the Izod al­li­ga­tor, Fred Perry, which was for the elite, and the Boast maple leaf,” he said. “And Boast was the coolest of the three.”

Bretschger is hop­ing Boast will be able to cap­i­tal­ize on the pop­u­lar­ity of the preppy move­ment. “Look at Tommy and Kith, Palace and Ralph [Lau­ren],” he said. “Ev­ery­body is look­ing to part­ner with preppy brands.”

He opted to open a store on the Up­per East Side be­cause the lo­ca­tion fits into the brand’s “ori­gins in coun­try clubs,” he said. This is its only brick-and-mor­tar lo­ca­tion, although the col­lec­tion’s per­for­mance pieces are still whole­saled at coun­try clubs around the U.S. “It’s im­por­tant to re­tain that busi­ness,” he said.

If the Madi­son Av­enue store is suc­cess­ful, Bretschger will explore oth­ers in ad­di­tional cities. “If it goes well, we’ll look at other mar­kets where the brand does well for us,” he said, sin­gling out Los An­ge­les as tops on that list.

The Boast Madi­son Av­enue store will have a grand-open­ing event on Wed­nes­day night be­fore its of­fi­cial pub­lic un­veil­ing on Thurs­day.

Inside the Boast storeon Madi­son Av­enue.

The Boast store on Madi­son Av­enue.

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