Over the past six years, Hampden Clothing has earned a reputation for being one of the area's top boutiques. On Black Friday, a new chapter in the history of the store began when owner Stacy Smallwood opened James, Hampden's new sister shop that specializes in accessories.
James is named for Smallwood's great-great-grandfather, James Hampden Smallwood. According to Smallwood, since her stores have demanded the same amount of time, attention, and love as children would, "it just made sense to name the stores after my own family. They are like my babies."
The idea of opening up a second store has been brewing in Smallwood's mind for quite some time. "A lot of our shoppers have that certain Charleston sensibility about them," she says. "You know that refined look with dark jeans and a simple top or blouse? I came to realize that there are a lot of people who fit into that category but still want to have fun with accessories and explore new looks and styles." When Smallwood's landlord informed her that the space next to Hampden was being put up for sale, "it was simply too exciting of an opportunity to pass up," and James was born.
Though Smallwood expects James to be "its own store, with its own experience and space," the James location will project much of the same vibe as Hampden, but with a slightly different approach. Hampden is defined by industrial decorum; concrete floors, chrome fixtures, and grey walls. James will also be a crisp streamlined space, but with white walls, swag carpets, and a slightly cozier feeling. The Ying to Hampden's Yang.
As for the brands being offered at James, there should be a great deal of cross pollination going on with Hampden. Expect to see Lizzie Fortunato Jewelry from New York City, L.A.'s Jerome Rousseau's shoes, Golden Goose Boots, and handbags from Alexander Wang, to name only a few. Though most of James' wares will be shoes, handbags, jewelry, and the like, there will also be selection of small and quirky gifts cycling through the shelves for those just dying to splurge on a little something-something.
Rather than build a whole new website for James, Smallwood took this new store as an opportunity to overhaul and redesign Hampden's. The new website, which will launch sometime in January, will offer online shopping for both James and Hampden. "We have customers who love coming to Hampden because they know and trust our employees' sense of style and fashion," explains Smallwood. "This new website will have all kinds of editors' picks, pairing advice, tips, and other new ways for our employees' personality and care to reach shoppers online."
Hampden is a member store of the Lowcountry Local First organization and in time, James will also become a member as well. In keeping with the principles of being a locally owned business, James will be having the same Toys for Tots discount as Hampden. Anyone who donates a gift to Toys for Tots can get 20 percent off any one item in the store.