What’s Concord got in common these days with Bloomingdale’s and Saks Fifth Avenue? A line of sumptuous high-end clothing for sale called The Tart Collection. Except Concord goes the fancy-schmancy department stores one better. Those in the know can buy their Tart togs in Concord at 70- to 80-percent off the retail price. That’s because Concord is now home to the only outlet store in the nation for this chic line of women’s clothes.
With sensuous flowing styles in popular jewel tones and neutral colors, Concord-based Tart Collection fashions have proved popular in Los Angeles, Florida and New York according to outlet manager Kinney Edlinger. “Celebrities love our stuff,” she said.
That’s apparent from the magazine clips on the Tart Collection’s website. Stars like Rachel Bilson, Jennifer Love Hewitt and “Pretty Little Liars” cast members Lucy Hale and Shay Mitchell plus many models grace the pages of magazines like Lucky, People, Allure, Seventeen and In Style wearing Tart Collection dresses, leggings and tops.
Does what actresses wear to cavort around LaLa Land work for the working women of Concord? Absolutely.
“I love this place,” said 23 year-old Concord resident Robin Gonzales as she browsed the racks. “The clothes are so nice for this price. The colors stay true after you wash them. With Forever 21 stuff, you wash it once and it falls apart.”
Local enthusiasm is the reason why the store has become a permanent fixture near Todos Santos Plaza. It originally opened after Thanksgiving as a holiday season pop-up shop and was scheduled to close after Christmas.
“The store did so well and there was so much excitement about it that we decided to stay,” says Edlinger, who grew up in Walnut Creek with Tart Collection co-founder Jamie Finegold. Finegold launched the business with his wife, Dana.
And what’s not to like? Leggings shown for $75 in Allure magazine can be had at the outlet store for $10. Jeggings (leggings with blue jeans-like coloring) too. Prices are by category. All long dresses are $30 and short dresses are $25, even the company signature Infinity dress – named for its versatile options.
“They just fly off the shelves,” said Edlinger. “They come in great colors like coral and brown and they’re very comfortable. And yet you still look polished and well put together.”
Iconic 20th century fashion designer Halston is cited as an influence on Tart’s website and it shows in the soft unstructured garments almost all made from a lightweight knit fabric. It’s a sophisticated cellulose-based fiber called MicroModal.
“It is amazing how this fabric stays unwrinkled," said Edlinger. "Once I had to pack our entire summer line for a fashion trade show. We were in the same lineup as Ralph Lauren and I was very nervous. But when you unpack our clothes and hang them up, the wrinkles just fall out.”
The Tart Collection outlet store shares space with Finegold’s earlier business, The Pajama Factory. Its claim to fame are the footed pajama for grown-ups. It’s just like those one-piece pjs worn by babies in fleece with a zippered front. In colorful prints and animal-themed designs, the footed pajamas continue to be a popular item.
“We sold over 1,000 footed pajamas during the Christmas season," said Edlinger. "At $20 a pair, they’re a steal.”
Another steal are the Victoria Secret-style undies at three pair for $10 and matching bras at $5 each.
“We get new shipments every week – 16 boxes at a time so there’s always something new," Edlinger said. "Fashion is fast-paced industry. What’s considered new and fresh one season needs to be replaced with something else next season. But because our clothes are very timeless, the clothes here are always in style. That’s why people just love shopping here.”
The Tart Collection is going to spread that outlet love soon. A second outlet store is set to open this spring in Lafayette at the site of the former Lafayette bookstore. But it will be a smaller space with higher prices than the Concord store. So fashionistas looking to get the most fashion bang for their buck will continue to come to Concord. And that suits the Tart Collections Edlinger to a t.
“It is exciting to give the customers such a good deal and make them happy. Many of our customers come in every week to see what’s new and it’s been wonderful getting to know them.”
2304 Willow Pass Road, Concord.
Monday through Saturday, 11 a.m. - 7 p.m.
Sunday, 12 - 6 p.m.