It’s been mere months since Raleigh husband-and-wife design duo Victor and Sarah Lytvinenko made their New York Fashion Week debut with a presentation of their newly expanded Raleigh Denim line in February. This month the pair returned to New York in a big way – not only to stage their second fashion week presentation, but also to open their second boutique, simply called Raleigh, in the city’s NoLita neighborhood.
The store has been more than a year in the making. “We always dreamed about opening a store in New York, but certainly didn’t think it would happen anytime soon,” says Victor.
The Lytvinenkos collaborated with architectural firm OMA – which also designed Prada’s New York flagship store on Broadway – to design the shop. The couple worked closely with OMA’s design team, bringing them to Raleigh to draw inspiration from the downtown Raleigh Denim Curatory space. Details such as paper airplanes hanging from the ceiling and a version of the window overlooking the studio in the Raleigh store were carried over to the New York location.
“We took a lot of the elements from our store in Raleigh and built on that.” says Victor. “We based the layout on a traditional Southern home where one room leads to the next, with each introducing a deeper level of intimacy.”
The store carries the label’s handcrafted premium denim, plus the full collection of menswear and womenswear – everything from button-down chambray shirts for men to floral print silk pants for women.
Planning the store challenged the Lytvinenkos to push forward with the expansion of their label’s offerings.
“Sometimes we do things that will force us to be better,” Victor explains. “If we opened a store in New York, we knew we’d have to do a full collection and do it really well. Having that end goal really pushed us to (finish the collection).”
Along with the expanded collection, the pair also has a new line of organic North Carolina-produced jeans made with cotton from Nash County, spun and woven into denim in Greensboro and cut and sewn in the Raleigh workshop. The jeans are only available in the Raleigh and New York stores. The Lytvinenkos have also teamed with North Carolina-based Bernhardt Furniture to design a collection of upholstery fabrics.
Opening a new store while preparing for fashion week, creating new collections and maintaining their Raleigh workshop has been challenging for the Lytvinenkos. But they’re trying to slow down a bit now and enjoy this latest success.
“(Opening the store) has been equally terrifying and exciting,” Victor admits. “Every big step is super-exciting and super-terrifying. It’s more fun than I thought it would be. It’s a tremendous amount of work, so the element of fun has been surprising.”
“We’re finally at the point where we’re actually able to do the things we’ve always wanted to do. For the past three to four years, we’ve been building a business, setting up our shops, training people; it was deliberate to do that and now that we have, we can be more creative and do everything we want.”