When Douglas Greenberg travels to Europe, he sees the name of his company everywhere. In Europe, “garde robe” means “coat check.” But Garde Robe Online LLC, which he owns with Chappaqua’s Adam Gilvar, is a museum-quality storage and protection service for textiles, clothing and accessories celebrating its 20th anniversary in New York City. (There’s also a 10-year-old facility in Los Angeles.)
Say you’re a New Yorker with limited closet space who needs to store his off-season wardrobe. Garde Robe can help with that. Or perhaps you’re Tory Burch, Carolina Herrera, Vera Wang and Jason Wu, and you want to store your archival collection for future reference. Garde Robe can help with that. Or maybe you need to send clothes to one of your multiple homes, as many have done during the pandemic, a hotel or a ship. Garde Robe can help with that, too.
Or perhaps you’re a beleaguered bride, whose wedding was postponed from last year. Though Garde Robe’s membership allows you to store unlimited pieces, up to 50 per rack, with 10 shoeboxes and one breathable accessories box per rack, Greenberg says he began doing one-offs for those brides, who include two of the company’s 20 employees.
The process is relatively straightforward. You sign up online and speak with Greenberg, who serves as Garde Robe’s vice president of sales and marketing and is based in La Costa, California. Garde Robe will pick up your items, assess whether they need dry cleaning — the company prefers you do that but will use its own museum-grade cleaners, if you wish — then photograph and catalog the pieces by designer, season, size and color for your Cyber Closet. (Your actual “closet” is in an air-purified, insect-free 20,000-square-foot facility in Long Island City or a similar 5,000-square-foot one in Los Angeles, where much of the business deals with performers and costumes.) When it’s time for delivery, you’ll once again get same-day, white-glove, complimentary valet service. (For pieces going out of town, Garde Robe uses a courier service, although that wasn’t good enough for the furs of one client, a Saudi Arabian princess. Thus a Garde Robe employee got the trip of a lifetime, Greenberg says, an all-expenses-paid weekend in Paris.)
In addition, Garde Robe offers consultation for closet paring and organization.
“Necessity is the mother of invention,” the saying goes. And so it is, he adds, with Garde Robe, which is approved by AIG, Chubb, PURE and Vault for ultra-high-end collections. The business was founded by Kimberly Maha Akhtar, who was Dan Rather’s chief of staff and spokeswoman by day and a flamenco dancer by night. She had a considerable wardrobe that required some storage. But one winter when she needed to retrieve some summer items from the dry cleaners quickly for a Caribbean trip, she found them in a dank, unclean pile. And she thought, Greenberg says: “There’s got to be a better way.”
That way was Garde Robe, which she established but is no longer involved with. Of Akhtar, Greenberg says, “she was a pioneer, the first to use the internet as a window.”
What she created was not only a window but a shield.
“If Vera Wang can trust us with her clothes,” Greenberg says, “you can trust us.”
For more, call 888-428-3311 or visit garderobeonline.com.
Protecting your wardrobe
Not all of us can take advantage of Garde Robe’s services, but all of us can benefit from its tips for museum-like storage:
- Make sure your closet is relatively low in light and humidity with a steady temperature and air flow. For this reason, stay away from storing clothes and accessories in attics and basements, which can be too cold in winter and too hot in summer. Watch for closets near outside walls (too much humidity) or windows (too much light).
- Store clean clothes in one section, used in another. Remove dry cleaning bags immediately from dry-cleaned clothes as the bags aren’t breathable. Use breathable garment bags and box storage.
- Not all dresses and gowns are created equally. Garde Robe’s Douglas Greenberg says a heavy, beaded dress is too weighty for a hanger. Wrap it in muslin or acid-free tissue and place it in a breathable box.
- Speaking of hangers, the Joan Crawford of “Mommie Dearest” was right: “No wire hangers, ever.” These can distort the shape of clothing, particularly knitwear.
- Watch out for leather and denim items that could transfer their dye if they come into contact with other clothes. Keep leather items out after cleaning for a few days to ensure they’re dry.
- Use dust covers for handbags and boxes for shoes.
- Don’t crowd closets and air those that contain your overflow by opening the doors and turning on a fan occasionally, particularly if you are on vacation.
- Cedar and lavender will repel insects but the strips need to be replaced from time-to-time and won’t help if you don’t clean your clothes.