Is Wayne Bouncing Back?
by Diane Oliva, Style Editor
After two years of stores closing, Wayne is now home to two new womenswear boutiques. Wardrobe and HJ Boutique opened in October.
Is Wayne on the verge of a comeback? “From retail to restaurants to service providers, we have welcomed new businesses,” says Deanna Doane, president of the Wayne Business Association. “Because of strong support from the local community and surrounding area, Wayne has stayed in business. Wayne is the place to shop and dine.”
The two new boutiques opened within days of one another. Wardrobe launched first, opening on a prime corner at 107 E. Lancaster Ave. This is owner Johnathan Bruno’s second shop; he has owned the original Wardrobe in Narberth since 2008. Ready to expand his presence, Bruno was planning to open a second store in Center City in March of 2020. The pandemic scuttled those plans, but only temporarily. Wardrobe opened its Wayne doors Oct. 18.
After looking at several locations, Bruno chose the store because of its visibility. “I wanted a more modern space with windows on a busy street,” Bruno says. “And I grew up in Wayne. I always wanted to return.”
Fashion is Bruno’s second career. He was a graphic designer for 25 years, and his keen sense of design permeates Wardrobe, not only in the pieces he curates for the store, but also its aesthetic. The 1,500 square foot store has a European, modern look.
The clothing has the same vibe. Wardrobe features designs from Denmark, Italy and other European locales. Bruno carries clothing, leather and vegan handbags, jewelry and selected housewares, most of which are under $200. Some of his key brands are Habitat, French Kiss, Tribal and Dolcezza.
Bruno aims to attract a multi-generational clientele. “In Europe, there is no distinction between junior clothes and clothes for adult women,” he explains. “Here, separate stores cater to different age groups. I try to base it on aesthetic and design, and have items for women of all ages.”
Across the street from Wardrobe is HJ Boutique, opened Oct. 29 by Hillary Jean White. This 2,400 square foot space is a reincarnation of Lady M Boutique, the Glen Mills store that White shuttered 8 months after it opened. White isn’t dwelling on that closure, but believes that the Main Line is a better fit for her shop.
White settled on Wayne after scouting the area with her husband. When they found themselves coming back to Wayne, they knew it was the right place for HJ Boutique.
HJ Boutique carries a mix of luxury vintage and high-end, one-of-a-kind new pieces. Vintage Chanel handbags sit alongside a new Carolina Herrera blouse and Z Malan hats. In addition to haute couture, White carries vintage from The Vault by Volpe Beringer as well as new pieces from the beloved Project Runway designer. HJ Boutique is also the first local boutique to carry clothing from Jeanette Limas, Philadelphia’s next big designer.
HJ Boutique’s prices range from $150-$7,500. “There is something for everyone,” White says. When asked what makes her store unique, she states, “We are bringing something new, and we are different from other stores.”
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