KINGSTON, NY – Swedish-born Andrea Westerlind has what she calls a “reductionist perspective.”
“The idea is to buy less but more durable, quality and more attractive things,” Westerlind said in a recent email. “I think a good quality of life involves dressing in functional clothes, but just because they’re designed for the elements doesn’t mean they can’t look great.”
Westerlind, who came to the United States from Sweden in 2006, showcases that kind of perspective at her new primarily outdoor clothing and gear boutique called Westerlind at 322 Wall St.
The 2,000-square-foot shop, which boasts 15-foot-high ceilings that once housed a karate studio, opened in July.
“I think it comes down to how we combine outdoor gear with fashion, furniture, art and food,” Westerlind said. “It’s unique. I haven’t really seen it in other US-based multi-brand concepts.
“Being a native Swede and having grown up in the Alps, my approach to things, especially in retail, is a bit different.”
Westerlind, who moved from New York to Ashley Falls, Mass., in 2020, said her European experiences influenced the type of Westerlind merchandise sold at the Kingston store and online.
“In many parts of Europe, people live very close to nature,” said Westerlind, a mother of a baby boy and a descendant of Swedish fashion designers. “The way they consume is more conscious.”
His search for multi-brand clothing is worldly.
“I’m constantly looking around the world for clothes that are both superior in performance and style,” she said. “I tend to travel light and usually incorporate some kind of outdoor adventure into my travels, so things should be undemanding, versatile and beautiful.”
In August, Westerlind said she “climbed a mountain pass in Switzerland with my newborn, we went for a drink afterwards. The outfit worked in both environments.
“When I come home from buying trips, I put everything together in a format that I hope will inspire others to be outside and enjoy life the way I do. It’s an entirely instinctive process.
The Kingston store is one of four Westerlind outlets, the first to open in 2015 in New York City, along with others in Millerton, Great Barrington, Mass., and Hudson.
There was a particular reason for opening in Kingston, where two people are employed, but more hires are expected, Westerlind said.
“We love the area, it’s so beautiful and the community is active and growing rapidly,” Westerlind said. “We didn’t see a lot of competition so I thought it worked out well for us. We hope to inspire our neighbors to explore the outdoors in style with good quality products. That makes all the difference.”
“We made a substantial investment to transform the space into the bright and welcoming atmosphere that is our concept,” Westerlind said. “We take our presentation very seriously and invest heavily to provide the best possible experience.”
This space is occupied by a variety of outdoor gear and clothing.
Items include water-repellent, wrinkle-resistant Japanese hiking pants ($190); Norwegian raincoats ($399); Westerlind-designed blazer, $380; Birkenstock and other designer shoes ranging from $50 to $89; and men’s t-shirts between $65 and $100.
There are also boots, water bottles, puzzles, purses and other clothes stacked on racks or shelves.
By far, the most expensive item in the store is an electric dirt bike priced at $14,000.
There are also lightweight corrugated plastic origami-style kayaks, for one person, $899 and for two, $2,000; and also an inflatable tent for $750.
Most items, not all, come with lifetime warranties, Westerlind said.
Westerlind said COVID-19 did not deter the Kingston store from opening. In fact, she says, the outdoors have become more appealing to people during the pandemic.
“I think the outdoor industry has held steady and actually grown tremendously during the pandemic,” Westerlind said. “Since a lot of people aren’t traveling the way they used to, it seems like they’re focusing more on local exploration, which certainly frees up disposable income.”
“I’ve also noticed that people really like to support local businesses, especially ones that focus on adventure and improving their lives.”