In a town where it sometimes seems that every new store is a one-summer pop-up, Tiina Laakkonen, owner of Tiina the Store in Amagansett, is not interested in “fast food or fast fashion.” She just wants to sell clothes. Not fashion, just clothes.
“Fashion is fickle,” she said recently, “and it ages very fast. I like things that are more permanent.” She chooses her merchandise for its quality and timeless appeal. Many garments are handmade, including pricey cashmere sweaters from the luxury brand The Elder Statesman, and hand-knit rugs.
Ms. Laakkonen believes that high-quality clothing “becomes more beautiful the more you wear it, the more you use it.” She herself owns and wears dresses for 15 or more years, and wants her customers to “buy and wear the things they can use for the rest of their lives.”
Ms. Laakkonen believes not only in permanent clothing but also in permanent locale. Staying open year round has helped her build a loyal customer base, she said. “I feel like once our customers discover us and once they start shopping here, I feel like I owe it to them to be open and be here.” She does not respect pop-up stores, which she called “opportunistic.”
Unlike many of the pop-ups, Tiina the Store has no branch in New York City. Its fans can, however, shop online at tiinathestore.com.
Ms. Laakkonen started out as a model and fashion-design student in Paris, went on to work for Chanel and Lanvin, and then was hired as a stylist at British Vogue. Continuing to work as a magazine and celebrity stylist, she has many connections to the world of high fashion, which allows her to bring designers and their clothing to Amagansett. Every summer she features a different designer. This summer’s special guest is Christina Kim, founder and designer of the Dosa line, whom she has known for about 20 years. At a small cocktail reception at the store on Saturday, customers and fans of Ms. Kim got the chance to meet her and shop her newest collection.
Ms. Laakkonen said this was “a way of introducing designers on a more deep and individual level to our customers . . . I think it’s really nice to see the person and to meet the person behind the things you enjoy.”
Tiina the Store’s aesthetic is heavily influenced by the owner’s Finnish roots and experiences in Paris and London. While most of the store is devoted to clothing, furniture and decorative items that mirror the interior design of Ms. Laakkonen’s Amagansett house are also present. The palette, neutrals and deep blues, seems instantly applicable to anyone’s “Hamptons” style. “The store has always been a dream of mine,” said Ms. Laakkonen, “and the things in it are all things that I love.”
Many of the clothes she sells are unisex. “I like wearing men’s clothes, and women love to buy men’s shirts and sweaters,” she said. “I think it’s very old-fashioned, thinking that things are either gender-specific or season-specific. I just think it’s nice to offer things that are up to anyone’s interpretation.”