Jeffrey Kalinsky was born into retail. His father opened Bob Ellis shoe store in Charleston, S.C., in 1950. The store attracted loyal customers from all over, Kalinsky recalls, including many from Atlanta. So, in 1990, when he was ready to launch his own retail effort, Jeffrey, Kalinsky set his sights on Georgia’s capital city. Nine years later, he staked a spot in New York’s Meatpacking District, long before it was a fashionable destination.
For his third outpost, Kalinsky is heading west. Not L.A. or San Francisco. Or even Seattle, where Nordstrom—the company that acquired his business in 2005 and for which he serves as VP/designer fashion director—is headquartered. His latest namesake will soon occupy the space at Stanford Shopping Center that previously housed Ralph Lauren. “I just believe that there’s this wonderful client in Silicon Valley, and I’m superexcited to offer them the best of the best, and for them not to have to go anywhere else to feel like they have seen the best of the best,” says Kalinsky. “They’re not going to feel less-than for buying at home, versus going into downtown San Francisco, or going to Paris or New York. It will be right there. And they’re not getting a watered-down version.”
Indeed, at Stanford, the goods and store design—“all white, so that the merchandise is king”— will be similar to its East Coast predecessors. The three locations also share an opening date: Aug. 2, Kalinsky’s birthday. (He plans to celebrate his 56th here.) The new venue will include a 9,000-square-foot sales floor, brimming with menswear, womenswear, shoes, bags, belts and jewelry from a spectrum of brands—from Comme des Garçons, Off-White and Dries Van Noten to Gucci, Prada and Saint Laurent. Nike, Adidas and Converse will be represented as well. “The idea isn’t really the labels that we have,” Kalinsky notes. “The idea is really the edit that we do.”
And customer service will be key. “We really try to develop relationships,” he says. “Once we have that relationship, we can make somebody’s life supereasy.” His team even does house calls. “We love to get in clients’ closets— see what they have and help them get rid of what they need to get rid of. And we’re happy to bring the clothes and shoes to them.” No doubt, stellar service contributed to the success of his dad’s shoe store, which closed in 2016, six years after he died. “It had a 66-year run,” says Kalinsky. “If Jeffrey has a 66-year run, I’ll be happy.”
Originally published in the July issue of Silicon Valley