The path to launching 242 Mulberry, Soho’s newest menswear concept store

Brand founder and retail entrepreneur Chris Echevarria is well-known in the world of menswear. 

The longtime fashion lover started in the industry working as a sales associate at J.Crew’s Liquor Store concept shop while studying menswear design at the Fashion Institute of Technology.  

It wasn’t long before Millard ‘Mickey’ Drexler, J.Crew’s then-chief executive officer, invited Echevarria to scout third-party brands and start a brand collaborations program for the fashion label. 

Echevarria’s work for J.Crew eventually led him to a brief stint in trend forecasting, before he joined the Italian luxury fashion label Stone Island to relaunch the brand in the US. 

However, Echevarria was always eager to skin his teeth into building his own brands.  

The path to launching 242 Mulberry

“I had seen the impact that I had had on some of the brands that I had the opportunity to work with and thought, ‘Well, if I could do this for everybody else, I could definitely do this for myself,” he told Inside Retail. “That’s when I decided to start Blackstock & Weber in 2016.” 

Blackstock & Weber is a men’s loafer brand that has been covered by several fashion publications, including Esquire and GQ. 

It is also the name of Echevarria’s direct-to-consumer website, which launched on Black Friday in 2017, where he sells items from his footwear brand, his eponymous ready-to-wear brand Academy by Chris Echevarria, which launched in 2021, his limited-edition collaborations with companies including Sperry and Billionaire Boys Club, and a curation of accessories, magazines/books, and vintage items. 

As reported by Echevarria, the DTC site has witnessed 300 per cent year-on-year growth since launching. And that is what gave him the confidence – and resources – to open his own brick-and-mortar location, 242 Mulberry. 

The name of the store reflects its location in the fashion-centric neighborhood of Soho in New York City. 

Despite the large number of apparel stores in SoHo, Echevarria noted that there is a whitespace for menswear stores that feel well-curated but non-elitist. 

He remarked that traditional menswear retail often felt “old and stuffy” and had the unfortunate tendency of talking down to the customer, instead of with them. 

In contrast, 242 Mulberry aims to create a safe, stylish, and snob-free shopping experience for fellow men’s fashion devotees. 

The 600-square-foot space was designed by Hayley Bridget Interiors, a New York-based multi-disciplinary studio specializing in residential interior architecture and design.

With a palette of muted neutrals, the shop offers an intimate but easy-going environment for shoppers to browse a variety of apparel and footwear offerings, including Echevarria’s Academy and Blackstock & Weber brands, alongside a curated range of accessories, magazines, and vintage items.

Echevarria wants every customer, returning and new, to feel welcome to explore the minute they step through the doors.

“We don’t expect you to know everything when you walk in the door. We welcome the opportunity to be able to educate people on what it is that we do, why we do it, and why we might mix one item with another, and why we make our clothes and our shoes the way that we make them,” he said. “It’s all there to be learned about because it’s all done with intention. We have a lot to say if people want to learn.”

According to the founder, 242 Mulberry has seen a notable return on investment, part of which comes from the loyal consumer base Echevarria amassed online and through social media before launching the physical store.

From young fashion lover to a multi-hyphenate retail executive

For Echevarria, 242 Mulberry’s opening represents the fulfillment, or rather the beginning, of a longtime dream. 

The retail multi-hypenate’s love for fashion was initially inspired by the days he spent shopping as a young child alongside his mother, one of his first style icons, in West Orange, New Jersey. 

From as young as five years old, Echevarria began to realize the power of style and fashion to accentuate how a person presents himself and he was determined to be a part of this character-defining industry, in one way or another. 

“As I grew up, I started this idea of clothing and how you can dress a certain way and be who you want to be on any given day,” he said. “I looked at my wardrobe the same way that a movie set would look at their wardrobe department and think about what character I want to be today. Who do I feel like today? That’s usually what my clothing says about me.”

Echevarria disclosed that he has plans to open another brick-and-mortar store within the next year, and hopes to open a number of locations in metropolitan cities like Los Angeles and Chicago.

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