25 Park's Alison Brettschneider Talks Bridgehampton Style
BY BRYN KENNY
When it comes to fashion, 25 Park owner Alison Brettschneider has always trusted her instincts. “I’m a leader, not a follower—I’m never going to be the last one to the party,” she says.
And whether that means bringing downtown designers to the Upper East Side when she opened her boutique 25 Park in 2009 or choosing low-key Bridgehampton (where she also owns a home) as the location for 25 Park’s Hamptons outpost, Brettschneider never sways from her laser-sharp vision. “When we opened the boutique in Bridgehampton, there were no other clothing stores there, and Southampton and East Hampton already had a billion,” she says. “I love how Bridgehampton has stuck to its roots—there are no corporate stores in town; there’s always parking, and it just feels more relaxed and laid back.
A fashion industry veteran, Brettschneider started her career in the buying program of Bergdorf Goodman before working at Catherine Malandrino and Vince. But it was during her experience as a showroom owner that she discovered a void in creativity in the industry and felt compelled to open her own boutique as a result. “Every store would order the boring black dress to be safe, and they were missing the best pieces,” she says, adding that she grew frustrated as buyers passed over a brand because they only liked a few pieces from the collection. “They would say that it doesn’t make sense to bring in just three pieces, but I’m thrilled if I find three amazing pieces in a collection, or even just one.”
In addition to the Hamptons shop, 25 Park has four other locations: two on the Upper East Side and one in Greenvale as well as a pop-up in Tribeca. The corner space on Main Street in Bridgehampton is a slightly more laid-back, beachy version of its Upper East Side sisters—with cozy flourishes like a sunlit seating area, vintage furniture, and photographs of St-Tropez beach scenes—although the store’s signature glamorous chandeliers, ceiling-suspended racks, and unfussy neutral color scheme remain the same.
Brettschneider, who says that clothing has always been her “passion and obsession,” prides herself on discovering and supporting smaller labels. “I love finding emerging brands and putting them on the map,” she says, adding that part of her magic formula is taking risks on lesser-known brands, about which more staid retailers may hesitate. “People always say we have unique stuff, and it’s because we don’t over-analyze during the buying process,” she says. This philosophy has helped make 25 Park a leader in cutting-edge fashion, known for its well-edited integration of more established brands, such as Rick Owens, Peter Som, and Sonia Rykiel, as well as up-and-comers like Dion Lee, Juliet Dunn, Koch, and Banjanan. And the versatile merchandise Brettschneider stocks has found favor with the celebrity set, including Rachel Zoe, Katy Perry, and Ellen Pompeo, who frequent her Bridgehampton shop.
Brettschneider calls out a white lace dress from the fall Nina Ricci collection as one of her own current obsessions. “I want to wear that dress every day,” she says. “I love it that much.” Other current styles featured among the boutique’s eclectic selection are easy pieces: caftans and tank dresses from Raquel Allegra, boho tops from Basta Surf, printed shorts from Thakoon Addition, and flowing pants from Gryphon and Malene Birger, as well as high-end pieces for young girls.
And when Brettschneider isn’t discovering the latest under-the-radar brands, working on her own fashion collection (due out this fall) or scoping out new locations for 25 Park (of which more will open throughout next year), she unwinds on the East End. “I live in the city and feel the hustle and bustle every day, so I come here to relax. I’d rather stay home and barbecue with my kids or have a dinner party with friends. People always say that they never see me out here, and I respond, ‘If you aren’t in my backyard, you won’t see me,’” she says.
When Brettschneider does manage to venture out, she counts Babette’s in East Hampton and Suki Zuki in Water Mill as her go-to spots, as well as Scott Cameron Beach in Bridgehampton, where she enjoys going crabbing with her family after dinner.
“Summer is my quiet before the storm because the minute Labor Day hits, it’s back-to-school and Fashion Week. I head off to Europe and long for the days of backyard barbecues instead of stilettos, blow-drys, and 8 am meetings,” continues Brettschneider. “This is my happy place, my sanctuary, and I truly devour and relish every minute of the place I am lucky enough to call my summer home.” 2415 Main St., Bridgehampton, 537-7525
PHOTOGRAPHY BY ZEV STARR-TAMBOR; gregg Deguire/ wireimage.com (pompeo)