Tuesday, 23 January 2018

SHOP TALK: Designer Mark Anthony on taking risks, venturing into womenswear, and his cozy new space

OFF THE RACK: The ace designer has stocked his new shop with plenty of eye-catching items.

ONCE you set foot inside Mark Anthony’s new digs on Windsor Avenue (off Lady Musgrave Road) in St. Andrew, you feel like you’ve just stepped inside the sleek, spacious walk-in closet of one of those bachelor pads you always see on MTV’s Cribs or BET’s How I’m Livin’. That was a calculated move on the designer/businessman’s part. “I want people to feel at home whenever they come here,” he tells us, measuring tape around the neck, as he handles some business on his laptop on a warm Tuesday afternoon. “So in doing the renovation, that was something I wanted the team to bear in mind.” Mission accomplished.

In case you didn’t know, Mark’s shop has made the move from Argyle Road, where it was based for the past two-and-a-half years to this cozy enclave a few side streets away, taking over space previously occupied by the owners of floral enterprise Best Buds Limited. The new spot was officially opened on December 5.

What a transformation! Shelves and shelves, racks and racks of shirts, pants, tonnes of accessories and scores of other items either created by the designer and his team or added to the lavish display to entice customers. It’s a far roomier space, complete with fitting rooms and an office.

For the record, Mark had no qualms about relocating the business at a time when many would advise against it, given, for one thing, the economic climate and other factors. “Critics will say now is not the best time to be making this kind of move, but it’s an existing business that has relocated and opened in time for Christmas. The right time for me is now,” he says. “It’s a risk but as long as you have life and breath, you should take it. It’s always a learning curve.”

Not be nosy, but did the move cost him a pretty penny? “Put it this way, there’s nothing about renovation that’s cheap. But I’m very resourceful. I have good friends and family, and you call on people you’ve done favours for,” he explains. In his own words, he feels like he’s finally found his home sweet home. “I don’t plan to move again anytime soon,” he says. “This is home.” 

Menswear is Mark Anthony’s forte. His long and ever-growing roster of clients includes celebrities, corporate-world professionals, a few politicians and the regular walk-ins. It’s time, he feels, to add womenswear to the mix. “It will be the female version of what the Mark Anthony brand has always offered,” he says. “Sophistication, class, elegance.” The womenswear line will hit the market, hopefully, by the time summer arrives. In the meantime, the designer intends to increase his staff size. At present he employs two full-time in-house workers and some freelance seamstresses who work from home. 

He has a line of cuff links coming out soon. Mark Anthony shoes? Yes, he wants to do a line of footwear, too. But nothing happens before its time. Says the 37-year-old businessman, “I’m taking it in stages.”

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