Alexander Wang’s return to the New York fashion scene is about to become considerably more noticeable.
The designer has secured a 15-year lease for 46,000 square feet at the Fulton Market Building in Lower Manhattan. The company will be using the location for its global headquarters and showroom,. The property also includes a 5,000-square-foot patio overlooking the Seaport and the East River with views of the Brooklyn Bridge.
Construction is expected to get underway as soon as possible on what was described as “a white box condition.” The company is aiming to move in next year. Located in the Financial District, the renovated Fulton Market Building was once home to the Fulton Fish Market.
After launching his eponymous label in 2005, Wang rose to international fame for his casual designs. In December 2021, the designer faced sexual misconduct claims and first responded via Instagram, dismissing them as “baseless and grotesquely false accusations.” The allegations sparked extensive media coverage.
High-profile attorney Lisa Bloom of The Bloom Firm represented 11 unidentified individuals who had accused Wang of varying degrees of sexual misconduct. In March 2020, the accusers met with Wang and later acknowledged his apology. Neither Bloom nor her assistant addressed whether there had been a monetary settlement; someone familiar with the allegations claimed the accusers could be compensated in the six-figure or seven-figure range.
After keeping a relatively low profile compared to the media-savvy ways he used to strengthen his business and brand awareness in the years prior, Wang staged his first show last April since the sexual misconduct allegations surfaced. It was Wang’s first show since June 2019.
Instead of New York, the designer unveiled his fall collection in Los Angeles’ Chinatown. Wang honored his Asian American heritage. To try to keep the focus on the “Fortune City” collection, his team established there would be no interviews with the media and no photography at the night market-themed event. The press was restricted from attending the designer’s after party at General Lee’s, which in seasons past had garnered as much media attention as his runway show. Wang added a charitable component by making an undisclosed donation to the Los Angeles Chinatown Corp.
And last week Julia Fox helped the designer launch a bodywear collection.
An interview request for Wang was acknowledged Monday.
The Seaport is familiar ground for Wang, who held a fashion show there at Pier 17 in 2018. His company’s commitment to the Fulton Market Building makes the property fully leased and makes the Seaport neighborhood 68 percent leased, according to the Howard Hughes Corp.
BLACKre cofounder and chief executive officer Sean Black, who represented Wang in the Seaport deal, said the headquarters relocation required years of planning. Numerous downtown buildings were considered including ones in Chelsea, SoHo, the West Village, the Financial District, TriBeCa and Gramercy Park, Black said. The building’s history, “old New York feel,” infrastructure, a substantial amount of natural light due to an abundance of windows and 29-foot ceilings in some places were among the selling points, according to Black.
The new Fulton Street space will be able to accommodate more than 200 employees. Black was unable to provide the number of employees who work in Wang’s office on lower Broadway. The Seaport location is going to be designed to attract employees back to the office.
Black declined to comment about the investment that is being made in the designer’s new global headquarters. The setup will allow for Wang’s company to consolidate its offices on one column-free floor.
“Both the ownership and Alexander Wang are super excited about being able to come out of a time where it was relatively dark during the pandemic and be able to reconstitute their work space in an environment that is really doing a lot to foster people to desire being in a beautiful space that is inspiring, aspirational and makes people excited to want to be back in a work environment,” Black said. “There is so much discussion and debate about working remotely, working in a hybrid fashion and working in a collaborative manner. What we’re seeing in the market now is that almost every company is reexamining their workplace architecture to prepare for the next 10 to 20 years and redesigning that space to not only attract, but also retain their most valuable commodity — their talent pool.”
The transaction was structured for HHC to build the space for Alexander Wang. Under normal circumstances, typical buildouts run between eight to 12 months barring any supply chain issues. “This is the commercial real estate industry. The market is such that it allows for someone like me, who does corporate service tenant advisory work, to negotiate transactions that might not have been possible in a very strong market,” Black said. “In today’s market, whether you’re in lower Manhattan, Midtown or downtown — with the right ownership that has the right balance sheet, structuring a transaction where the landlord will not only fund the buildout but oversee and do the construction on behalf of the tenant is achievable,” Black said.
A number of prominent fashion companies including Hugo Boss, Brioni, Gucci and Bottega Veneta have migrated to lower Manhattan in the past. The area’s “great infrastructure and well-capitalized owners in buildings that tend to trade at a discount compared to Midtown properties” can be factors in attracting companies, according to Black.
In the Seaport, Wang will join such neighbors as ESPN, which has broadcast studios, and Nike, which occupies a creative studio. Live Rocket founder Mark Bozek, an early Seaport tenant, said he was pleased to have Wang moving into the Seaport. Noting how Live Rocket connected Telfar to the Howard Hughes Corp., Bozek said Telfar’s eight-month stay last year was “not unnoticed” by the Alexander Wang team.
Meanwhile, Live Rocket is negotiating with HHC for long-term leases for 23,000 square feet for an entire street-level city block of studio space on Fulton Street between Water and Front Streets.