Van Cleve expands into menswear and becomes the first Main Line boutique to carry Bungee Oblečení sneakers created by Paoli’s Darrell Alston.
by Melissa Jacobs
“That, that and most definitely that.” Darrell Alston, lead designer and CEO of Bungee Oblečení, stands in Van Cleve pointing to outfits he’d wear. Alston focuses on the velvet blazer next to him, taking the sleeve in his hands to evaluate the material, then nodding in approval. “And everything goes with our sneakers.”
Last week, Van Cleve, the legendary Main Line boutique, inked a deal to carry Bungee sneakers in its new menswear section. The men’s area includes tuxedos, blazers, pants, ties and accessories from Michael Kors, Ralph Lauren – and Bungee Oblečení. “I love what Darrell created, and it’s great that we can highlight a local designer,” says Deborah Van Cleve, the stylish, savvy queen of special occasion wear for the 35 years she’s owned her boutique.
Van Cleve’s men’s salon offers customizable tuxedos and tuxedos for rent as well as off-the-rack blazers and other separates. “We kept sending our menswear business elsewhere, so this expansion makes sense for us,” Van Cleve says. “We get requests for sneakers because this is how many men are dressing.”
Bungee x Van Cleve has special significance for Alston. The designer grew up in Paoli, just a few miles from Van Cleve. “I never imagined that my sneakers would be in Van Cleve,” Alston says. “I’m grateful for the opportunity.”
Working with Bungee makes sense for Van Cleve. Inventory was provided without shipping delays, and Alston met with Van Cleve’s stylists to explain the upscale materials and detailing of his footwear. Shelly Burnett, a principal stylist at Van Cleve and menswear expert, says that women are also wearing tuxedos and sneakers to special events. “In terms of style, there are no rules anymore,” she says. “Whatever that person feels the most comfortable and confident in is what we want them to wear.”
The menswear section is part of Van Cleve’s overall expansion, a project that Van Cleve launched in September 2021. The boutique’s 3,500 new square feet offer a wide variety of womenswear, from couture to upscale brands like Peter Langner and more affordable lines like Mac Dugall. “It’s quite an expansion, even price and style wise,” Van Cleve explains. “We’re carrying dressy pants and cool tops, and a variety of dresses for different occasions and styles.”
The expansion was a no-brainer for Van Cleve, whose business tripled in recent months. “During the pandemic, people were having backyard weddings just to get married, but now they want to celebrate their marriages – and life in general,” she says. “Fun is back. Thank goodness.”
For more, visit Van Cleve, 1604 E. Lancaster Ave., Paoli, (610) 647-5055.