Those who complain about New York’s dearth of fashionable multibrand boutiques can now visit a new entrant. Outline, an airy boutique in the Boerum Hill neighborhood of Brooklyn, New York, opens Thursday — spearheaded by Opening Ceremony and Totokaelo’s former women’s buyer Margaret Austin, along with two childhood friends.
If there’s anything that Austin has learned in the last year since she and partners Julia Edelman and Hannah Rieke started the project, it’s that it takes a village. “This has reinstated my faith in people,” said Austin, who leaned on her community of friends to see the store through.
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Located at 365 Atlantic Avenue, Outline addresses the needs of a neighborhood that is full of high-earning professional creatives who are increasingly working from home and are craving a shop to wander into on their lunch breaks or afternoon dog walks. It sits at the intersection of the Cobble Hill, Brooklyn Heights and Fort Greene neighborhoods and — as an indoor-outdoor concept — offers ready-to-wear, home goods, jewelry, shoes and fresh flowers.
Austin decided to take the plunge in mid-2021 while consulting on independent retail concepts for another person’s store. A friend told her it was time for her to realize her own concept, and Austin — who had abruptly left the fashion industry in 2020 when Need Supply and Totokaelo shuttered and rendered her unemployed — felt a pang to reenter the buying ring. She quickly dropped out of a masters program in library sciences, called on Edelman and Rieke for help, and hired her friends at Goodspace to track down an appropriate location.
“People were constantly asking me where to shop. Bird [Jen Mankins’ mini empire of shops that closed in early 2021] was a huge loss and there used to be a Barneys [New York] on Atlantic Avenue. I feel like if I didn’t do it, someone else would. It felt like the right time,” Austin said.
Austin enlisted Edelman, whom she met at ballet camp in middle school, to come into the project as its chief gardener and programing director. Until recently, Edelman worked as the Brooklyn Grange’s assistant farm manager. At Outline, Edelman partnered with the Grange on a backyard terrace that serves as the store’s flower-cutting garden and outdoor salon. She will be manning the rear of Outline’s space, offering freshly made custom bouquets for purchase.
Rieke, Austin’s friend from college, was previously the manager of Matt Jackson Studio — focusing on production and set design for diverse mediums including film, ad campaigns and fashion. She has taken over as Outline’s head of visual merchandising and interior design.
“We have our own lanes and it works really well,” Austin said of the trio’s arrangement, which also entails them working as Outline’s sole store associates for the foreseeable future.
Outline, with 1,200 square feet of indoor space and a 570-square-foot outdoor terrace, hosts a roster of emerging and established luxury rtw, home goods, accessories and — eventually — clean apothecary products. There are plans for event programming and hosting trunk shows for emerging talents.
Those who know Austin have petitioned her to open her own store. With Outline, she finally had complete control over a store’s entire assortment.
“It’s been an interesting process for me to figure out a way to speak to the neighborhood and bring pieces that are more fashion-forward,” Austin said of the buying process. “We are trying to find a balance — carrying some of my all-time favorites like Lemaire, Our Legacy, Dries Van Noten, Auralee Tokyo and Engineered Garments.
“For more feminine brands there’s Runaway Bicycle and Maryam Nassir Zadeh. So it’s finding a balance between the two things, feminine with a utilitarian menswear perspective that is one constant in my style. It’s less trendy of a store [than my previous work] and more about everyday wear,” Austin said.
Outline also stocks porcelain from Edelman’s mother, Jan Burtz, who supplies all of the dishware to ABC Kitchen and is the first U.S. point of sale for online porcelain sensation Casa Adams. There’s rtw from brands including Connor McKnight, La Reunion and Flore Flore and jewelry from Alterita and Beatriz Palacios.
The store’s undulating wooden fixtures were made in collaboration with Antoine Dumas and Benji Gavron, who have recently become close collaborators of Gabriela Hearst on both her namesake line and new retail concepts for Chloé.
Outline opens during what has become an independent retail renaissance for New York City. In the wake of blue-chip closures like Opening Ceremony, Bird and Barneys has come a post-COVID-19 wave of new shops. Highlights from the last year include Salima Boufelfel and Roberto Cowan’s Desert Vintage in the Lower East Side and Amanda Lurie and Gina Esposito’s Tangerine in Williamsburg, Brooklyn.
With Outline, Austin, Edelman and Rieke now add their voice to this moment.
“I’m excited that we are in such good company. I’m just excited to bring my point of view, and in particular to the square-mile radius of Brooklyn where I grew up. I really wanted this to feel like a neighborhood store — of course I want it to be a destination but I want there to be a real community behind it,” Austin, a Brooklyn Heights native, said of the space.
“People are tired of shopping online and are excited to go into stores and have that more personal experience. We wanted the space to go along with that and be inviting for an in-person shopping experience.”