"Almost everything in the store is washable," says Aegean Manager Vicki Lighter. "In the summer, (the clothes are made of) almost all cottons and linens. In the winter we have some heavier fabrics, but it's all easy to take care of."
The business, which also has stores in Baton Rouge, Lafayette and Georgia, was started in 1993 by Baton Rouge residents Kamil Tatari, his wife, Jill, and her sister, Angie Malano. The team decided to design and manufacture clothing made from breathable, quality fabrics in styles appropriate for Louisiana's climate. The sisters hand-select the cottons, linens, tensels, washable silks and other fabrics, clothing styles and colors for the stores' collections. Tatari personally oversees production of the clothing at his manufacturing plant in Turkey to assure quality.
The process ensures that women in Louisiana and Georgia will have fashionable fall styles to choose from that won't keep them overheated during our warmer-than-normal fall and winter seasons.
"The clothing line is made exclusively for Aegean stores, and we only have stores in Louisiana and Georgia, so it's targeted very much for the local market," Lighter says. "We have a mock turtleneck with no sleeves so women can wear a jacket over it when they're inside (in the air-conditioning), then take off the jacket and still be comfortable when they go outside and it's warm."
Most of Aegean's customers range in age from 25 on up, and the fashions are designed for women who want to dress comfortably but look professional and in vogue. Lighter and her staff try to keep the process easy by offering everything from lingerie and clothing to jewelry and handbags that together for complete outfits, many that easily coordinate with other items in the store to make a variety of different outfits. In addition to mix-and-match coordinations to extend an outfit, the store also offers women options that account for the different body shapes of maturing women.
"We'll offer different options for the same outfit," the manager says. "Because some people don't look good in a button-down jacket, we'll also carry a pullover in the same style" (to go with pants or a skirt). "Most of our customers come in looking for an outfit as opposed to an item. I think they don't want the hassle of going from place to place trying to match things.
Aegean also offers an extensive selection of leather and metal belts, handbags, wallets, jewelry and gift items from Brighton, a product line that has proved popular with customers. It also carries a large range of non-drying Primal Scream sculpture-layered bath soaps, candles, unique metal ornaments, reading glasses, cologne, scarvess, light-plate covers and more.
In terms of fashion and design, Aegean offers the latest style of chic jeans along with loose-fitting jackets with matching slacks. There also are more whimsical styles like a plaid velour pullover with faux fur around the neckline and cuff, lime green sweaters and embroidered pieces.
Regular shoppers like Aegean as a comfortable alternative to shopping malls and a haven for personalized attention. Plus, prices are reasonable and the store features "complete fashion" down to jewelry selected with outfits already in the store in mind.
"We take care of people from all over the city. We even have customers who come over from the Northshore," Lighter says. The store offers two rooms of fashions, but is relatively small and cozy. "We always have at least two staff people in the store, so we can help everyone. Because of the size, we can get to know our customers personally. I know what's in their wardrobe and can tell them when something new will go with an outfit they already have. It's the old way of doing business."