Tuesday, October 01, 2013

En garde, Garde Robe!

I live in an old building, vintage well before folks had a lot of clothing. Especially Boston folks.

One of our closets is so skimpy that we have to put the hangers in on the diagonal.

While there is an advantage to having limited closet space – you just can’t accumulate all that much stuff – I will admit that there have been plenty of times when I have wished we had just one more modest-sized closet. I’m not greedy. I don’t need a walk-in closet or anything that grand. But a closet that you didn’t have to put things in at a slant would be nice.

But, in truth, it’s not that I need all that much more space.

And even if I did, it would just hold more of my jumble of L.L. Bean, Talbot’s, Eileen Fisher and Nordstrom piece (my high end!), or the occasional funky-artsy thang. I most certainly don’t have the kind of wardrobe that merits renting out space at Garde Robe to store my wardrobe in. (Not that they’re in Boston, anyway…) Certainly nothing that merits this sort of TLC:

Doug Greenberg, one of Garde Robe's partners, tells the Times that his clients "are wise enough to protect [their clothing] like a piece of art." And that art is well-protected: Garde Robe boasts security to rival fine jeweler Harry Winston's, and "each item that comes in for storage is inspected for dirt or other contaminants, sterilized, photographed and cataloged in a database." (Source: Huffington Post, citing a piece that appeared in The New York Times.)

I suppose that if you have “investment” clothing, designer goods that are actually worth something, it’s worth paying the $4,200 a year minimum – amusingly reported in the initial article as $4.2K per month – for the minimum accommodation, which holds:

…50 items of clothing, 10 pairs of shoes and a box of accessories.

But, hey, I don’t have 50 items of clothing that are worth sterilizing or cataloging, even if I do fit into at least one part of the Garde Robe demographic:

…fashion devotees with extensive and beautiful wardrobes, city residents with inadequate closet space, business travelers and globetrotters, multiple home owners, and fashion designers. (Source: Garde Robe)

Or I would fit that “city residents” demo, if I lived in NYC instead of fashion-backward Boston.

Garde Robe® members enjoy 24/7 visual access to items in our care and can request garment delivery via Garde Robe's signature Cyber Closets.

Hmmmm. Does this mean that they have nanny cams that let you monitor your sterilized and decontaminated garments, round the clock? I already have 24/7 visual and tactile access to my wardrobe. All I need to do is open the closet door, or pull out one of the under-the-bed sweater drawers.

As for the Cyber Closet, I really don’t need a “digital look-book”

… accessible on the Internet, where you can view and sort individual pieces, create categories for certain items, create outfits, and much more.

Wondering just who and what is garde robed?

Here are Ivanka Trump’s empire-waist dresses, Gwyneth Paltrow’s couture gowns, the model Iman’s cashmere car coats and a shoe collection belonging to an Oscar-winning filmmaker who prefers to remain anonymous.

Also here, occupying several racks, is Oscar de la Renta’s complete archive of ready-to-wear collections, dating back to his first in 1965. (Source: NY Times)

All told, there are 30,000 items stored in the Garde Robe facility, which is located in the somewhat downside Queens, in a “warehouse [that us] is under 24-hour surveillance.”

As befits the schmatas of Ivanka and Gwyneth.

Garde Robe has about 300 members, including a billionaire real estate magnate and his wife, who store 3,000 pieces at a cost of more than $150,000 a year.

I was going to say head-on-pike, but I’ll leave it at “no comment.”

Kim Akhtar, who created Garde Robe, is a pretty interesting character, one “who helped manage the English rock band the Cure and later became Dan Rather’s personal assistant.” (What’s the frequency, Kenneth? Just google Dan Rather and frequency if you don’t get the reference.)

The concept came to her after she found herself paying a couple of thousand bucks to store her winter clothes at the dry cleaners, and forgetting exactly what it was that she owned. As a result, she went out and bought a black cashmere cardigan, even though she already had one. (Been there, done that, only with a periwinkle cashmere pullover. And I don’t even have the excuse of it being stored off-site.)

Anyway, Ms. Akhtar has sold her business and:

…moved to Spain to pursue another passion, flamenco dancing, under the stage name La Maha.

Gosh, not only is my wardrobe dull and boring, but so am I…


A tip of the non-designer hat to my sister Trish, who sent this story my way. Trish also lives in an old, closet-challenged house, which she’s somewhat overcome with a good-sized Ikea wardrobe.

And a happy birthday greeting to my sister Kath.


Kathleen Rogers said...

I just read something that said the reason the old houses didn't have closets was because of taxes--you were taxed on the number of "rooms" and a closet was a room.

Maureen Rogers said...

That's really interesting. I'd just love to see the city of Boston trying to tax us for that 6-inch deep bedroom closet as a "room".