Two new tenants will brighten up some long vacant storefronts in the Upper Chapel Street District this April. Yale University Properties has signed leases with Lordz Fashion House, a clothing boutique, and White Space Gallery.
University Properties Director David Newton said demand for property along Chapel Street has been high and that they have been working to bring in tenants that can both add success and diversity to the retail mix.
“People are excited about New Haven, they want to be here. The buzz around Connecticut and the region is such that we have a lot of interest in those spaces,” he said.
Lordz Fashion House, located in Sherman’s Alley near Roomba’s restaurant, will open April 1. Fashion shows featuring the boutique’s original clothing line will be held on April 9 at 1 p.m. and 6 p.m. to mark the store’s grand opening.
Lordz owner Roderick Williams said he wants to provide his customers with unique, “one-of-a-kind” pieces that will stand out and stay in style longer than other mass-produced clothing lines.
“People want to go out and feel different. I want to cater to that,” he said. “Once the mass market gets hold of a piece, it just becomes a song that people get tired of hearing.”
Williams, who began his career in fashion while working in Los Angeles, said the inspiration for opening his own boutique came from the four-and-a-half years he worked under Giuliana Maravelle at Arte Di Bottega Giuliana — another Chapel Street shop. He said during that time, he and Lordz co-owners Aysugul Ikna and Neville Wisdom enjoyed designing and working with fashion so much they decided to start doing it on their own. Ikna has a background working with fashion in Turkey, while Wisdom has worked in Jamaica.
In addition to men’s and women’s clothing designed by the three owners, Lordz will also offer a line of women’s shoes, and possibly men’s shoes in the future. Williams said Lordz will also be open to accepting and selling clothing lines from other designers. Williams said the fashions Lordz offers will be “top-of-the-line quality at a reasonable price.”
Williams said he has appreciated the support he has received from people in New Haven and at Bottega.
“This is where it’s all started out for me, and I want to be able to create a landmark in New Haven,” he said.
The second University Properties newcomer on Chapel this spring, White Space Gallery, will open in late April or early May. It will occupy the second floor of the Atticus building at 1020 Chapel St. above Seychelle’s clothing store.
Owner Michelle White said she currently operates a gallery sales office that runs mainly through Internet marketing, but has been working on opening an art gallery in New Haven for almost a year. She signed a lease for the space in February.
“We were originally in business as the marketing arm of an art publishing company; however, the tremendous community response to the artwork led us to contemplate opening a retail gallery,” she said. “We thought it would be a good thing to help add to the downtown community.”
White said many talented local artists have emerged in the New Haven area but that she was surprised at how many have never marketed their work. She said White Space will feature some of these local artists, along with a wide range of other renowned artists.
The gallery will offer a variety of high-end fine art, including lithographs from surrealist masters such as Dali, Chagall, Picasso and Miro. It will also offer original acrylics, oils, sculptures and mixed media by living artists.
White Space currently donates and will continue to donate a portion of its profits to the National Endowment for the Arts.
University Properties is currently searching for tenants to fill three additional vacant spaces in the Chapel Street District.