NEW YORK — The fashion boutiques of New York’s prim Madison Avenue now have a different kind of high-end neighbour: a head shop.
Handbag label Edie Parker is expanding its business into cannabis with a new collection of smoking accessories called Flower by Edie Parker. Launched in 2010, the fashion brand is coveted for its vintage-inspired clutches and handbags, especially its colourful acrylic line that has gained celebrity fans including Lupita Nyong’o and Mindy Kaling. Edie Parker branched out into home goods in 2016, and the new cannabis line was a natural extension of that.
The initial idea came when Brett Heyman, its founder and creative director, started thinking about how she and her friends entertain at home. She also couldn’t find dispensaries that matched her aesthetic or feminine taste, which led her to design the Flower products.
“I’m very cannabis-friendly and didn’t feel like there was a lot on the market that represented what I would want to buy for my house, or what I would want to bring as a hostess gift,” she says.
Items in the collection are priced between $20 and $500 and include stash jars, lighters, ashtrays, grinders, bongs, and rolling trays. In addition, Heyman designed a cannabis-friendly take on her acrylic bags for carrying weed. These can all be purchased on Edie Parker’s website as well—with a disclaimer that the products “are intended for legal use only.”Alongside the accessories, Heyman is launching three different strains of private-label Flower — cherry cheesecake, pineapple, and banana —in a partnership with the craft cannabis brand Flow Kana based in Northern California where marijuana is grown. Products will be available through the cannabis delivery service Emjay, which operates in the Oakland and Los Angeles areas.
With cannabis legal in 10 states and inching forward in many more, fashion retailers are paying close attention. In March, Barneys New York opened its own cannabis shop at its department store in Beverly Hills called The High End, offering joint clips, custom glass items, and CBD-infused serums and tinctures for those who want to get more than a shopping high.
It’s a Madison Avenue boutique. Why can’t you buy cannabis in the same way?
Legal cannabis sales passed $10 billion last year in the US, with a market is estimated to be worth $22 billion by 2022, according to Arcview Market Research and BDS Analytics.
But the revamped Edie Parker isn’t a traditional head shop with shelves packed to the edges with glass pieces and questionable brand-less products from who knows where. The Madison Avenue store, next door to Kate Spade and J. Mendel, retains its brand identity with assertive pops of colour and irreverence throughout, which was a key objective for Heyman when designing the line. At the store, the cannabis products have been given center stage, on a table in the middle of the store surrounded by Edie Parker’s usual selection of acrylic handbags with inlayed patterns that can cost $1,500 or more.
“When you go to some of the new dispensaries in California, they’re beautiful,” says Heyman. Shopping here should evoke emotions worthy of any other kind of luxury shop, she adds. Vintage smoking accessories from storied brands such as Cartier were once beautifully crafted, and cannabis warrants the same kind of artisanal devotion. “It’s a Madison Avenue boutique. Why can’t you buy cannabis in the same way?”
Heyman admits there was concern that her cannabis products may turn away certain customers who feel offended by their presence, but she hopes it will only be a small number of people. She doesn’t mind simply not selling to them, she says.
The designer sees cannabis as a real growth driver for her business, not a one-off gimmick. She wants to keep expanding the line, especially if marijuana becomes legal in New York. First up will be a vape pen, which should hit her head shop in the next couple months. If she ended up replacing her handbags with bowls and bongs entirely, Heyman says she’d be OK with that, too.
“I think it’s a market with a tremendous amount of tailwind. I think it’s exciting,” she says. “It feels like the Wild West in a way. It feels like what I imagine the tech boom felt like.”
By Claire Ballentine and Kim Bhasinl; editor: Justin Ocean.