South Moon Under Rises in Westport
South Moon Under founder Frank Gunion discusses his new luxury boutique in Westport
How did South Moon Under evolve from its humble beginnings as a surf shop to a multi-location upscale boutique?
As a group of creative people we like to evolve. Staying static is just not all that interesting and doesn’t allow creativity to flourish. Now it is a long stretch from a surf shop to a store focused on fashion, but even in 1968 when we started we had clothing and not all of it was just surf. Over time we evolved to more and more clothing as we love fashion, design, art, and style. When we made the jump from beach resorts to our first store in Washington D.C., it validated our focus on fashion and we haven’t looked back since then.
Why did you choose to open South Moon Under in Westport?
First of all we love the beauty and sense of place that Connecticut, and specifically Westport, offers, and we want to be a part of it. With only 22 stores over 45 years you can see we aren’t focused on big growth. We want to be in places where we can offer something meaningful to the customer, and candidly, where it will feel good for our staff. We believe we offer a very different experience for our customers, and within limits, we want to bring that to more people. Finally, we have a great group of people working at South Moon Under and we want to provide them opportunity for income and professional growth.
Would you describe South Moon Under as a lifestyle brand?
As our motto says, “inspiring self expression through the art of fashion,” we are here to help each person express themselves. We all choose clothing that in some way represents who we are. So it is not about a South Moon Under lifestyle, but is about us providing you with the fashion that supports you in expressing who you are. So if you are free spirited or tailored we have a way for you to express yourself. In general people who like South Moon Under are those who feel creative environments enhance their experience - whether it’s the type of book they read, the music venues they attend, the place they ski, admiration for the beautiful garden down the street, their own house, or the art they hang on the wall. It’s about being really alive!
What makes a South Moon Under shopping experience unique?
Many things! But to highlight a few; first we cherry pick our offering from hundreds of fashion companies ranging from established ones such as Frye, Rebecca Minkoff, and Free People, to new indie designers you have never heard of. Second, we constantly change our offering. If you come in three weeks from now, you will see a lot of new styles that aren’t here today. We offer this to you in a fun, comfortable, no stress environment. We won’t tell you something looks good when it doesn’t. We won’t pressure you to buy something today. We are here for the long term and we want to build a relationship with our customers. Another is our social responsibility consciousness. We have solar power and ground water heat pumps at our home campus. We build out our stores with the least amount of resource consumption as possible (and still meet the code) so when you visit our store in Westport you will see the bones of the building. Why consume oil to make a carpet to cover an attractive existing concrete floor that just needed polishing? And lighting is always the highest efficiency obtainable.
Do you carry any brands that are exclusive to South Moon Under?
Yes we have both exclusive items that we build with a brand you may know but is our design. And we have three companies that are exclusive to us – Sady & Lu, Abbeline, and Neely.
What's next for South Moon Under - any plans for additional Fairfield County locations?
No additional plans for other locations in Fairfield County at this point. However, the store we have in Westport is not large enough for us to do both womenswear and menswear, so we are opening with women’s apparel and hope to add space to bring in our men’s line eventually.
South Moon Under
14 Post Road East, Westport; 203-557-8332