Jonathan Cohen has opened a pop-up shop on Madison Avenue in New York City which will sell his brand and others through June 14th. An American designer, Cohen was raised in San Diego, bringing a spirit of west coast influence along with his Mexican heritage to New York City where he has lived now for many years. His Mexican prints and bright colors have the laid-back ease of the San Diego surf culture combined with a modern city influence. The brand was launched in 2011 by Cohen and his co-founder and CEO of the brand, Sarah Leff. In an interview with both, they talked about the importance of the pop-up shop and how cultivating a deep relationship with their clients has shaped the company’s designs.
From trunk shows to pop-up shop
Leff explained that from the beginning days of the brand, both founders would participate in various trunk shows and how both love interacting with customers. “The direct communication with clients allows us to bring the brand to life and we listen to the feedback from the customers.” Cohen also talked about the importance of collaborating with other like-minded brands which is why the pop-up shop also includes products from “friends of the brand.”
The diverse assortment of merchandise includes AERA shoes, SUD, Aromas of The Cote D’AZUR candles, Seven Cedars homeware, a curated selection of Dempsey & Carroll stationery, as well as a variety of Assouline books. Cohen excitedly said, “The first customer in the shop purchased a beautiful cocktail dress and wanted a shoe to go with it, and we were able to sell her an AERA shoe to complete her outfit.”
Customer shopping behavior
Jonathan Cohen has built a very loyal following as the company has grown over time and expanded its product offerings. Leff talks about how the designs are aspirational and, at the same time, pieces are purchased from clients each season. “We love hearing from our clients when they tell us about what they wore to what event and how the products made them feel.” Customers today want a direct connection to the brands they purchase. There has been a shift towards owning quality products that last longer, and comfort is a key characteristic. The brand designs stand the test of time both in quality and style. Cohen said, “Customers have told me that they feel so good knowing they have Jonathan Cohen designs in their closet,” which has given the designer a great sense of appreciation.
Tina Bhojwani, co-founder and CEO of AERA, a brand featured in the pop-up shop, stated that the pandemic has shaped the consumer’s point of view toward a greater awareness of both sustainability and comfort. “In order to enhance the comfort of our shoes, we created signature quilted insoles that add an extra cushion.” AERA offers a vegan line of luxury footwear.
A community of artists and collaborators
Both Cohen and Leff believe that the company is where it is today because of the many people that have been with them along the way. Leff said, “We are where we are because of the community around us; Collaborating with other brands is a form of our artistry.” The pop-up shop includes seven other brands to complement the Jonathan Cohen design collection which includes the Spring/Summer 2022 collection and the first delivery of the Fall/Winter 2022 collection.
Bhojwani is in agreement about the importance of collaboration, stating, “I believe that one plus one often makes three and being a part of the Jonathan Cohen pop-up allows for this kind of meaningful collaboration. Our shoes are a great complement to Jonathan’s bold and beautiful clothes. Additionally, Jonathan Cohen’s designs are sustainable in that he uses upcycled fabrics, which aligns with AERA’s mission.”
More than just a great design
Jonathan Cohen’s designs have a story of social responsibility weaved through the brand. “We wanted to be responsible and mindful, and we are very passionate about making sure that the people making the clothes are working in a good environment and being paid a fair wage.” Cohen also talked about how, when they were starting as a young brand, they were working in their apartment and seeing all of the waste from the garment designs; It fueled their passion to create The Studio, which offers creative and innovative designs using upcycled products. Using fabric remnants from past collections, Cohen creates one-of-a-kind new styles of ready-to-wear clothing and accessories, giving the fabrics new life. He stated, “We wanted to take immediate action and be responsible for mitigating the waste.”
Exclusive one-of-a-kind pieces from The Studio, including the return of men’s shirting, will also be available at the pop-up shop located at 833 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10021, open through June 14th (store hours will vary by day).