It’s hard to miss Susan Alexandra’s new and first-ever store. As I made my way down the Lower East Side block, in an area also referred to by locals as “Dimes Square,” the shop’s tiled signage and watermelon-shaped banner first caught my eye from a distance, and then its yellow-coated steps with the designer’s signature beaded handbags glistening in the window. “We’ve been under construction for so long that I had no idea the sunlight would be this strong,” designer Susan Korn exclaimed to me while carrying her beloved pooch in her arms, who to my surprise, was also blinged out in a Susan Alexandra collar.
On Thursday, Oct. 28, the cult-favorite brand opened its debut boutique, an official foray into brick-and-mortar located on 33 Orchard Street. Over the years, Susan Alexandra’s bags have become a dopamine-inducing “It” accessory, and has been worn by the likes of Gigi Hadid, Emily Ratajkowski, and nearly every street style favorite during fashion week.
Korn first rented out the space back in April 2021, which once served as an old tattoo parlor. Now, the vibrant store is wedged right between a spa and an abandoned shop and sits right across from neighboring designer names, like Sandy Liang, and cool slice shop-slash-hangout, Scarr’s Pizza. Upon entering the storefront, I was greeted with a beaded door handle, which resembled a giant banana, and entering the Susan Alexandra store felt like I stepped inside one of her own handbags.
Designed with the help of Lula Galeano and Levi Shaw-Faber, Susan Alexandra’s new storefront proved to be not just an accessories brand locale but an experience that should be lived at least once. The brand stayed true to its quirky and joyful essence, as its kitschy designs and bright hues took over the newly-renovated space with intention, from its Daltile flooring and salmon-colored walls, to custom fruit-shaped light fixtures and potted orchards placed in all of the right corners. The beaded wonderland was inviting and intimate with all of Korn’s closest friends and invited guests, and not to mention, the store’s female-faced mosaic fountain — a favorite detail of the designer’s — was a soothing plus for my early morning visit.
“It was so essential for us to use lots and lots of color. The challenge was, how do I use color without interfering with the already bright, poppy product?” recalls Korn on the store’s design process. “I wanted to stay away from colors that felt trendy — remember millennial pink? — so I gravitated to a combination that felt really unique and reminiscent of my childhood. We also were dealing with massive product shortages, so my first and second choices were generally not available. We had to do a ton of adapting and problem-solving.”
The computer screen does little justice for Korn’s dreamy designs, and the shop’s merchandising allows for shoppers to truly see each Susan Alexandra piece up close and personal. The walls are lined with the brand’s most coveted bags and whimsical cardholders, fun accessories and glassware, and even crystal tissue holders and one-of-a-kind candles by her sister Janie Korn. As I made my way to the back of the space, I discovered more of Korn’s jewelry items and custom-made pieces by some of her friends, an intention for customers to browse and shop from new designers.
“Wonder and awe,” noted Korn on the feelings she wanted shoppers to have upon visiting. “I want them to feel like they’ve escaped to a different world.” And isn’t that what we crave to experience these days?
The Susan Alexandra store is now open Tuesday through Sunday from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. EST, and its grand opening block party will be held on Saturday, Nov. 6. In the meantime, you can also get a closer look inside of the store, below.