When designers and friends Amanda Lurie and Gina Esposito surveyed the New York retail scene, they saw few independent stores to shop at and even fewer places for the independent brands they loved to sell their wares.
Esposito has been designing her minimalist swimwear and activewear brand, Nu Swim, since 2015. Lurie launched COA, short for Coming of Age – a line of handbags, and increasingly footwear, clothing and other small accessories – in 2019. Both are indie hits, adored by stylists, gallery owners and other types of creatives. But as the chances of surviving by selling to small stores dwindled, Lurie and Esposito saw having their own store as an attractive workaround.
So they went into business together. Today, their Tangerine boutique opens in Williamsburg, Brooklyn, providing a platform for each of their individual brands as well as many others they know and love. Located on a sunny corner at 616 Lorimer Street, Tangerine was designed with a certain level of nonchalance, envisioned as a neighborhood hangout to browse between errands, more or less playing on how many city dwellers live their lives. today.
By catching Brooklynites where they live, rather than areas where people deliberately go shopping, Esposito hopes Tangerine will become part of people’s routine. “It’s so much more local here – it’s where people go for a walk or do their laundry – they really live and hang out. It’s such a cozy environment and not like going to a trendy neighborhood where you would usually go to do shopping,” said Esposito, who, like Lurie, lives near Tangerine. The space used to be their local wine store — which has since moved across the street.
Lurie added that she decided to create a space that “people feel comfortable in, not a store where people are afraid to touch things or hang around. Our counter has stools where we can make you an espresso. There are magazines to read, we will have a New York Times subscription and benches outside for people to sit and read. We want to do events with different artists and just showcase different brands.
While the shelves in the gallery-like space are overflowing with iconic Nu Swim bikinis and COA silk taffeta gingham bags, they also showcase some of New York’s most up-and-coming up-and-coming brands. There are leather tote bags from SC103, which have become a sort of underground “It” bag, hand-knit sweater vests by Rachel Witus, hair clips and hand-painted tights by Emily Dawn Long and Tigra Tigra silk pants.
But Tangerine is not just a fashion boutique. The store features an assortment of vintage books curated by archivist Camille Brown; there is glassware from Ichendorf and ceramics from Soft Edge Studio and Laura Chautin; there are also select pantry goods, including artisan vinegars from Tart – known for its unique recipes using rose petals, celery or kombu.
The back of the store has been partitioned off to become Esposito’s studio space, and so Tangerine will be open Thursday through Sunday with appointments readily available on the days in between. She and Lurie both aim to have an e-commerce component in place by the holidays. Which is reminiscent of the name of the store, which Lurie says was chosen because “we felt inclined towards a fruit or vegetable and tangerine is a fruit that gives you an influx of summer feelings in the winter. This idea kind of got stuck.