The Indie Boutique Boom

In a region with one of the largest malls in the country, independently-owned stores are thriving.

The freshly expanded posh collections in Malvern. 

There’s no question about it: Retail is thriving around the Main Line—particularly boutiques. New stores keep popping up, and old favorites have grown. With its recent expansion, Ardmore’s Suburban Square has welcomed three new boutiques, including Stefanie Lutzo’s Delsette, which debuted this past May. Its hardwood floors, open layout and industrial-chic accents represent a complete rebranding for the now-shuttered Center City shop.

After taking some time off and moving to Los Angeles, Lutzo returned to the area, choosing Suburban Square for its laid-back neighborhood vibe. “The clients here are sophisticated shoppers,” she says. “My store is like a luxe edit of harder-to-find brands.”

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Delsette’s inventory features jeans and casual pieces at multiple price points, plus more formal options for special occasions. Brands include Barrie, Solid & Striped, Stutterheim, Creatures of the Wind and more. “I think we’re going to give New York a run for its money,” says Lutzo of the area’s boutique boom. “The shopping is killing it.”

Joining Delsette in Suburban Square, Susan Ahn’s second iteration of Wayne’s beloved Eaves launched in September. It has a slightly different atmosphere and an expanded selection, especially when it comes to shoes and accessories. “Here, it’s more like mixing casual and luxury. At Wayne, it’s more casual and contemporary,” Ahn says. “I feel like there’s a large group of women who really don’t like the mall. We get customers who want a more personal, intimate experience.”

At the new Eaves, white walls and built-ins make the space feel open, with clothing and accessories displayed in a manner not unlike a well-curated closet. High-end shoe and jewelry brands include Dries Van Noten, Chloé, Aquazzura and Spinelli Kilcollin. 

A third recent addition to Suburban Square’s boutique lineup is Gilbert & Evans, with its dark hardwoods, exposed brick walls and cozy feel. Debuting a year ago this month, Gilbert & Evans is the vision of husband-and-wife team Caleb and Grace Kuhnmunch. It offers clothing for men, women and kids, along with home accents and gifts. 

And it’s not just the hometown names making an impact. Trendy New York boutique Kirna Zabête has plans for a location in Bryn Mawr Village, and Texas-based Kendra Scott is set to open its first Pennsylvania outpost in Suburban Square. 

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The new Eaves location in Ardmore

Refashioned Spaces

Elsewhere, existing boutiques have undergone transformations. In Malvern, Posh Collections doubled its size when owner Tina Corrado snatched up the storefront next door. Spotlighting designers like Diane von Furstenberg, Henry & Belle, Ivanka Trump, Marc Fisher and Trina Turk, Posh has been around for almost nine years, so the timing was right. “I’m a firm believer that change is important,” says Corrado. “Our customers wanted more space.” 

With 2,500 square feet, they got exactly that. “I’m able to offer so much more,” Corrado says. 

Over in the Eagle Village Shops, Kate Lawson has made some big changes to her Menagerie, which has another location in Haverford. Her newly expanded Wayne storefront has an elegant vibe, with wide-plank hardwoods, steamer trunks, distressed furniture, minimalist artwork, and a seriously funky chandelier. It’s the perfect setting for Lawson’s thoughtfully assembled selection of clothing and accessories, including her handmade jewelry collection. “It’s a really fresh feel with the same merchandise,” she says of the new space. 

In addition to offering Rebecca Taylor, Ted Baker and other high-end brands, Menagerie is the first U.S. retailer to stock the Manhattan-based Charlotte Brody line. “Customers know they’re getting something special here,” Lawson says. “And that’s what boutique shopping should be.” 

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