If you want to sell plenty of shoes, launch a Shoehampton line. Hoping that consumers will prefer your apparel over a competitor’s? Call it Shirthampton or Hampton Pants. Name your new furniture company Hamptons Home, or at least label that new line of sumptuous sofas the Bridgehampton Collection, and success is in the offing.
That appears to be the philosophy of an increasing number of companies and entrepreneurs who believe they will profit from linking their products to the tony, the chic, the desirable Hamptons.
“Branding a kitchen cabinet styling with the ‘Hamptons’ label provides a natural appeal that interests affluent customers wherever they may live,” said Bill Ohs, president of the Wm Ohs company, which manufactures and distributes kitchen furnishings. Ohs headquarters are in Denver, Colorado—1,857 miles from the closest “Hampton,” Westhampton—but the company is banking on a new line of cabinetry named for this far-off place. “People envy the position, refinement, and savoir faire—whether imagined or real—represented by a Hamptons address.”
The appeal of the “Hamptons” is nothing new. Along the local main streets in Westhampton, Southampton, and East Hampton, shoppers have long been familiar with the likes of BookHampton, Pet Hampton and Hamptons Meditation. But product developers are now reaching beyond the East End’s population. Linking up with the Hamptons brand means generating national, and in some cases international, interest.
“Our market research shows that there is recognition of the Hamptons elsewhere in the U.S. and in the world,” said Nick Beech, owner of the new firm Hamptons & Co. in Bridgehampton. “In fact, we think it can work both ways. People will buy our products and it will make them more intrigued about the unique part of the country that is the Hamptons, which is the American St. Tropez. Part of our growth strategy is to spread the Hamptons brand.”
Some product lines seem to be a natural fit for Hamptons branding. Take apparel, for example. For decades, fashionable folks have been summering in the Hamptons and in recent years the high season has become an increasingly popular venue for celebrity. Magazine readers nationwide are treated to a steady diet of photos of their favorite actors, musicians and socialites dressed to the nines at various Hamptons benefits and the focus is often on what they’re wearing.
J.C. Penney is just one of the distribution chains selling the Sag Harbor line of clothing, which includes the Sag Harbor tweed swing jacket, crochet trim sweater, godet skirt and the Sag Harbor sheath dress.
“It’s certainly a popular national brand,” said Kate Parkhouse, a spokeswoman for J.C. Penney. “We do have people around the country come in and ask for the Sag Harbor line of clothing, so consumers already know about it.”
Keds, the venerable sneaker company, has a Hampton Sport Casual Tennis Shoe for women “inspired by the simple, classic style of summer in the Hamptons,” according its marketing material. They’re “perfect for an afternoon at the club.” Indeed. Though it could be argued that some of the cachet is taken away by the shoes’ $39.99 price and the suggestion from keds.com that a purchaser can “take up to six months to pay.”
Accessories are also big and the Coach leather goods company has been cashing in on Hamptons chic for many years. Coach has three lines of purses and handbags: Hamptons Leather, Hamptons Signature and Hamptons Suede.
Other products might seem a bit of a stretch, but the burgeoning selection of “Hamptons” home goods on the market is reflective of the ever increasing focus on the Hamptons lifestyle.
The American Standard company now has a Hampton Collection that features the double-handle lavatory faucet with a ceramic disc valve that has “pop-up included.” The company maintains that ceramic disc valving “assures drip-free for life performance.” The list price for the high-end faucet is $269.
Couristan, an international company, has also found a way to bond with the Hamptons. The brothers Basil and George Couri founded the company in 1926 when they began importing handmade area rugs from Persia to the United States. Today, the company has 25 area rug collections and imports from China, Nepal, India, and Pakistan—but not from the Hamptons. Regardless, one of the company’s most popular collections is the Hamptons Red. There are varying sizes that range in price from $59 to $899. The company also makes Bridgehampton wall-to-wall carpeting.
Noyac may not be New Delhi and Bridgehampton may not be Beijing, but according to Couristan, an association with the Hamptons is appealing to rug aficionados everywhere.
“I’m not aware of any hard numbers that translate into what impact being associated with the Hamptons has on sales,” said Donielle Arabia, a spokeswoman at Couristan’s corporate headquarters in Fort Lee, New Jersey. “But we are very familiar with the Hamptons and the aura that it has and we kind of look for the image of our products to be connected to a variety of places, and the Hamptons is a place of elegance and quality.”
At first glance, Omnia Industries Inc. doesn’t appear to have a connection to the Hamptons. It is a family-run business headquartered in New Jersey and it produces door fixtures. But a review of the company’s products turns up a series of items named for the hamlet of Amagansett—an increasingly popular hideaway for celebrities, including Matthew Broderick and his fashionable wife, Sarah Jessica Parker. There’s the Amagansett Standard Entrance Handleset with Interior Knob, the Amagansett Double Cylinder Entrance with Interior Knob and the Amagansett Pair Dummy Entrance Handleset with Interior Knob, all for around $700.
“We first introduced the Westhampton, Southampton, Bridgehampton and East Hampton collections, but they weren’t just picked out of a hat,” said Omnia vice-president Alexander Comini. “We were striving for an ornate look and we associated that with the older estate homes in the Hamptons.
“Most importantly, though,” he continued, “is that my parents have a house in Montauk. My siblings and I sort of grew up out there … so when we were struggling to come up with names, we thought of the communities in the Hamptons. We even have a new line of products we call Georgica.
“We keep getting more specific and local,” Mr. Comini said. “We have a very fond and personal connection to the area.”
For Mr. Beech, the Hamptons is a launching pad for his company. Just getting underway, the intention is, he said, to “sell the Hamptons lifestyle through clothing and accessories, the sophisticated, fun beach lifestyle that the Hamptons offers. It is one of the most beautiful areas in the whole country. We think no one out there has yet captured completely all that the Hamptons has to offer.”
Mr. Ohs, on the other hand, thinks his company has well captured at least some of what makes the Hamptons so special.
“The Hamptons are populated by New York affluent sophisticates who seek ways to meld their understanding of the modern world with the slower, more genteel life in the country,” Mr. Ohs said. “They still seek consolation and delight in tradition and history, or some interpretation thereof. [Our] Wm Ohs Hamptons Classic cabinet styling, with its tailored, chaste and formal appearance, was expressly conceived for such a sensibility for consumers all across the U.S.”
Regardless of how accurately they’re reflecting the essence and style of the region, companies seeking to capitalize on the Hamptons’ cache are doing so with ever greater fervor.
“I think almost everyone in the country has heard of the Hamptons and has an image of it that is good for business,” Mr. Comini said. “Maybe if you go to middle America there isn’t quite the same level of recognition, but for other consumers in this country, especially those on both coasts, the Hamptons suggests that this product is a good buy.”