A loose champagne cork rests on the floor of Piece, and Kristin Wild stoops down to grab it, smiling.
“It’s from the weekend,” Wild said nonchalantly.
It’s Monday, two days after the store’s grand opening, the cork swiped from the floor a product of the celebration commemorating the opening of the 25-year-old UW graduate’s second clothing boutique after her high-end Capitol Square shop, Atticus.
It’s also a symbol of success and a fitting testament to the boutique’s youth, a sign of a certain joie de vivre both in the store’s nature and establishment.
Piece, after all, is just a baby. An idea born just two months ago on Christmas morning.
“We were looking in our stockings, and I was like, ‘I think I want to open another store,’ and everyone was like ‘No, no, stop talking about that,’” Wild laughed. “It was just like — it came kind of out of nowhere.”
Literally. The lease for the store’s location at 551 State St. (the space formerly occupied by Sukara Sterling) was signed just under two weeks before the store’s opening. The snowstorm in Washington D.C., help from her 22-year-old sister, Stephani and some sheer determination accounted for the locale’s quick change over.
Aesthetically, the store itself is an unassuming homage to style and sparse industrialism. Yellow and black paint splatter the moody gray walls, while lines of tees and tops stand in single file on the left. Men’s jeans slump over a rack on the right wall, and bangles and other trinkets rest atop the metal table Wild said she bought at the UW SWAP for $10 in the back.
“The whole vibe of this place is kind of urban,” she said.
The store’s style is forward yet casual, a youthful tone also to be reflected in the clothing at Piece, Wild said.
“Up there (Atticus), most of our customers are 35 to 55. We have some shirts down here that our older customers would never wear,” Wild said. “We have T by Alexander Wang down here now, which is doing really well. Students like that — everyone likes that.”
Other labels to be featured in the shop include Commune, a new men’s denim line, and luxe basics proprietor LNA, adding that pieces from organic clothing manufacturers Loomstate and Stewart+Brown will be making their way to the shop.
However, Wild seems the most enthused about Nicole Richie’s House of Harlow 1960 jewelry line, which features simple pieces like rose gold, Aztec-inspired stack rings or the gold and black leather Sunburst cocktail ring.
“Normally I’m not a huge fan of celebrity lines, but I like her jewelry, and the price points are great,” Wild said. “It’s something you can buy without feeling too guilty.”
And it’s the prices which differentiate Piece from sister store Atticus and should drive fiscally minded and fashion-conscious students to the location. Unlike Atticus, everything at Piece is priced under $100.
And while Wild does not insist that everything sold here will lie within every student’s financial comfort zone, she does maintain that everything sold here will have a longer closet shelf life. It’s quality over cost, she said, when it comes to competing with known downtown retailers like Urban Outfitters and American Apparel.
“I think it takes a little bit longer for people to know you when you’re an independent because, you know, [Urban Outfitters], they’ve [been] known forever, and they know what it’s about. And American Apparel, they know they can get basics for a decent price, but our stuff is going to last longer. It just takes time for people to realize that,” Wild said.
And time is certainly of the essence when it comes to Piece — Wild’s lease for the State Street is up after six months.
“We’re going to see how it goes, and if it goes really well, we’re going to keep it open,” Wild revealed unabashedly. “Otherwise it’ll be just a pop-up shop for six months.”