Josie Natori opens first-ever U.S. store: ‘It’s about time’

Sleepwear will remain the core business of The Natori Company. Photos by Elton Lugay

Sleepwear will remain the core business of The Natori Company. Photos by Elton Lugay

The store hosted a Pajama Party on August 5th

The store hosted a Pajama Party on August 5th

By Cristina DC Pastor

“Josie! I’m wearing your underwear!” fashion book author Elle Madrona called out on seeing designer Josie Natori as she entered her Nolita boutique for an August 5th store opening.

Josie, laughing and not in the least embarrassed, shot back at Elle, “OK, don’t show it to me.”

The long-time friends and neighbors, shared a tight hug and some catching-up pleasantries.

Although billed as a Pajama Party, no one came to the opening of Josie’s first-ever store in the U.S. dressed in their sleepwear. Some girls in Natori’s PR team wore kimono-style tops over black shirts and jeans, proving once more how Josie continues to reinvent women’s intimates – the chemise as cocktail wear, or the bathrobe as kimono wrap.

After being in the fashion business almost 40 years, Josie is finally opening her first U.S. boutique carrying her eponymous brand. It is located on Elizabeth Street in Nolita in Lower Manhattan, an extension of quaint Little Italy.

“I prefer not to look at it as a store but as a lab,” she told The FilAm. A “laboratory” that she said is a good place for The Natori Company, to experiment and “teach us about our customers.”

Nolita is a section of Lower Manhattan with lots of trendy cafes, ice cream parlors, and retail shops.

“It’s a very welcoming neighborhood and very hip,” she said. “Here, we can reach out to a whole new audience.”

The Natori brand, which debuted in 1977 in Bloomingdale’s as embroidered lingerie, has since branched out into several brands, such as dresses, accessories, home accents, and fragrance, all in varying price points, ranging from reasonable to luxury. Sleepwear, she stressed, will always remain her core business.

“From her bold and edgy accessories to her sexy and exquisite lingerie collection, Josie Natori combines her designs with class and elegance,” raved Elle Madrona, socialite and CEO for “I am a huge fan!”

Josie shared how the company has grown in the last 10 or so years, closing the Paris store with an eye to creating a U.S. presence; opening a website; and now showcasing the ‘Natori lifestyle brand’ within an 1,100-sq ft. shop in a bid to introduce itself to a much younger market.

“That is our intent,” she said. “To expand our own retail (if this one becomes a success).”

For a brand that is in almost all department store chains, including Target and Bloomingdale’s, a stand-alone store may seem unnecessary. Josie does not see things in a boxed-in, predictable way.

“Here (in this store), we want to show our lifestyle company the way we wanted to show it,” she explained. “We wanted to showcase the lifestyle attitude of each of our brands.”

Having a retail store “validates” the Natori website, added Josie. Her son, Kenneth, manages social media as vice president for finance, focusing on the company’s operations and financial planning.

In the end, Josie said an American store is almost inevitable. It may have taken 37 years to set up but it is part of a carefully crafted business decision.

“It’s about time,” she said.

With long-time friend Elle Madrona

With long-time friend Elle Madrona

‘Edgy and exquisite lingerie.’ The FilAm photo

‘Edgy and exquisite lingerie.’ The FilAm photo

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