How Madison Simon brings style expertise to Charleston’s iconic, luxury shopping destination


Since 1967, Marshall Simon and his team at Gwynn’s of Mount Pleasant have been serving Charleston’s tri-county area with men’s and women’s designer clothing, accessories, shoes, beauty, and upscale gifts and home accessories. Today, almost 50 years later, his daughter, Madison, is joining the family business as the next generation of Gwynn’s, a family-owned luxury department store, and elevating the already iconic brand once again.

“There is a reason we have been around for the time that we have,” says Madison Simon. “Any of our long-standing clientele will vouch that Gwynn’s is much more than just a luxury department store, it’s a lifestyle and destination all in one.”

With a $1 million renovation and a 2,000-square-foot add-on a couple of years back, Gwynn’s defines a new realm of personalized customer service. The addition of two private shopping suites, one for men and the other for women, brings a VIP experience for a girls’ shopping trip, a wardrobe refresh or even a bridal party selecting rehearsal dinner attire. Each private suite offers a full bar, complete with top-shelf liquor, from Don Julio 1942 to Dom Pérignon, and a sitting area and counter, should you need to order lunch. Compared to the standard fluorescent lighting most department stores offer, Gwynn’s hand-selected lighting ensures each piece and color is accurately reflected on the skin tone. The rooms also feature a tailor’s pedestal and wraparound mirror, so a client never needs to leave the room. But perhaps the most significant perk is, of course, the personal stylists on call—many of whom have worked at Gwynn’s for more than a decade and many of whom remember each client’s face and name upon arrival.

In a time where the run-of-the-mill store just won’t do, both in terms of the physical location and services, Gwynn’s excels across all verticals. Gwynn’s is the only luxury department store in Charleston—actually, South Carolina for that matter—to carry luxury designers such as Loro Piana, Jimmy Choo, Escada, Ermenegildo Zegna, Brunello Cucinelli, Lafayette 148, Tory Burch, Trish McEvoy and Tom Ford. Furthermore, the store’s state-of-the-art beauty department also touts exclusives. This summer, celebrity makeup artist Gucci Westman’s second skin makeup line, Westman Atelier, joins the list. (Westman is called upon by Jennifer Anniston and Reese Witherspoon for her artistry.) This brand is not only exclusive to Gwynn’s and all of South Carolina, but it is one of the only stockists in the United States, along with Barney’s in New York and Violet Grey in Los Angeles. When it comes to Simon’s own beauty essentials, she says: “You can always find Laura Mercier matte lipstick (color ‘Fab’) in my purse. It’s perfect for when I need a little pop of color or a little refresher during the day.”

After studying and working in fashion in New York City, Simon took her talents back to Charleston to jump back into the family business. “I want to provide value to the Charleston community and positively impact the local economy while constantly elevating and innovating at Gwynn’s,” she says. “We are developing a new media strategy this year to reach fashion fans on a global scale. We are also launching our e-commerce store and driving our brand to audiences around the world.”

When it comes to trends, Gwynn’s is known for having the latest and greatest, and it’s no surprise, given Simon and her team attend over 20 fashion shows a year to handpick what they’ll buy for Gwynn’s. “Right now, I’m loving Alice + Olivia. I’m really enjoying all the fun prints and color for spring and summer. Neon is having a moment—the louder the better! I’m also a big fan of all suiting; it’s bigger than ever. The blazer and biker short trend that’s happening right now is a fresh spin on the suit, and I love it,” says Simon.

When it comes to investments pieces to carry on into fall and winter, Simon recommends investing in a high-quality leather jacket. “Just throw it on over jeans and a tee or a dress, and it can transform your look and add a little edge,” she says.

For a company that has been around for more than 50 years, the future looks brighter than ever with Madison Simon on the team. “Our store is always entertaining, from the wonderful and unique clients that come through our door to our interesting and dynamic staff. Our vision for Gwynn’s is ever evolving. Whether it’s through marketing, hosting events, buying for the store or photo shoots, there is never a dull moment. We have a lot in store for 2019, so it’s exciting to be a part of it,” she concludes.

Carolina Ramirez Herrera is an art- and design-obsessed travel and lifestyle writer, who often contributes to blogs, city guides and lifestyle publications, sharing a page from her little Black Book of personal travels. Based in Miami but usually on a plane, follow her on @Lacarolinda.

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