Four fresh shops break ground in the big city. By Ryan Haase
Workwear, an increasingly popular apparel category, is also increasingly straying from its roots. Someone who carries a mason bag today is most likely not hauling bricks (unless that's a slang term for a cell phone). However there are exceptions, and Dunderdon, a 10-year-old company started by carpenter Per-Ivan Hagberg, has smartly evolved into a modern clothing line that maintains a rugged sensibility.
The new Dunderdon flagship, which recently relocated to Howard Street from smaller digs up on Lafayette, gorgeously displays Hagberg's work. The whitewashed space, meant to resemble a cottage from the designer's native Sweden, has cheery pots of yellow flowers basking in the windows and miniature rocking chairs scattered around the room. If that at first doesn't evoke the rough-and-tumble carpentry trade, consider that Hagberg and rest of the Dunderdon team constructed all these fixtures themselves, right down to the dressing room walls.
The classic Panama Pant (about $100), in sturdy twill with hammer loops, pockets for nails, and kneepad inserts, already sells well among the industrial artists and craftsmen that populate the nearby Bowery and Lower-Lower East Side. The men's contemporary collection streamlines the workwear silhouette, reducing the clothing to the most essential elements. Raw denims and heavy cottons are cut into lean, minimalist trousers, with no distracting embellishments or affected washes (about $129). Slim jackets in tactile waxy fabrics provide reassuring structure and protection without being boxy or shapeless ($169 to $219). Organic cotton T-shirts feature surreal nature-inspired prints by artist Andy Kehoe ($39). A woman's babydoll jumper ($119 to $139) comes in green and blue plaids perfect for summer cocktail parties, and features a high hemline that won't get in the way when crouching down to paint a floor.
And Then Some
To find out what's for sale at Alex Eagleton's brand new shop, And Then Some, simply ask his friends. The shop, which opens next week, focuses on the work of an astonishingly talented and close-knit coterie of artists. "They have such great ideas," says Eagleton. "And I wanted to set up a place where I could say 'hey, you're making some limited-edition shirts? Bring them over,' or 'you have a new song? We'll play it.'"
This freewheeling concept means And Then Some, a black-painted box lit by interrogation-style overhead lamps, won't adhere so much to seasons as it will to moods. "One of my friends told me he wanted to start making perfumes, so I asked him to create some for the store." The result, Spanish Fly, is a brooding mix of leather, tobacco, and fire. Another designer, with a line appropriately called Friends, sells one-of-kind shorts and swim trunks in summery fabrics with thick twine drawstrings. Most of the labels on regular rotation at And Then Some are available nowhere else in the U.S., such as Daniel Palillo's theatrically oversized tops that make you feel like the "after" in an ad for some dramatic weight loss plan. Then there's Eagleton's own label, thesamenicepeople, which he started several seasons ago with necklaces that had pendants made from quartz crystals and gold-cast G.I. Joe heads.
This spring, the collection expands to include a sweatshirt with permanently scrunched-up sleeves (thanks to an inner structure of elastic bands), super-soft T-shirts with unusual bias seams, and a hooded zip cardigan that's been sutured shut after having its zipper surgically removed.
Walking down St. Mark's Place is like watching a curious East Village maturation. What starts around Astor Place as urchin adolescence (with tired faux-punk shops and overrun greasy spoons), slowly refines and restrains itself as it slinks toward Avenue A. Cry Wolf, which recently opened along this eastern end, provides a range of thoughtful street wear for these subversive-yet-sophisticated villagers. "We've lived in this area a long time, and love the energy and downtown style," says Abiri Ward, who runs the shop with his wife Nina Wolff.
The store occupies the garden level of an old walk-up, and looks like a warm, weathered studio, complete with non-functional fireplace, exposed bricks, and an angled wall of mirrors that visually double the square footage. For the racks, Ward and Wolff sourced street-chic labels from all over the world. Tailored pullovers in gray sweatshirt fabric by Wrath Arcane ($155) hang next to preppy navy shorts with slingshots embroidered on the back pocket. A fiery red dress by Greyhound ($373) features hypnotic waves of pin tucking, while fuchsia, turquoise, and yellow fall in new-wave stripes down a Buddhist Punk oversize shirtdress. The clothes, neon-bright sneakers, cleverly patterned ties, and raw denim jeans, come from labels like Just Another Rich Kid, Public School, and Unruly Heir, proving that style (and prices) may grow up, but the soul stays forever young.
Thistle & Clover
Slouched alone on a shelf at the new Thistle & Clover boutique is one brown handbag. The bag, a meticulously stitched satchel in luscious soft leather (by Monserat De Lucca, for $445), has already nearly sold out. This is no small feat, considering the shop debuted less than a month ago. But it proves that Camilla Gale and Rand Niederhoffer knew what they were doing when they opened this spare, elegant space. "Every woman wants quality clothes and accessories that are versatile, but still interesting and fun," says Niederhoffer.
Accordingly, Thistle & Clover, one of the first apparel retailers on bustling DeKalb Avenue in Fort Greene, is stocked with the kind of breezy, softly unconventional womenswear that telegraphs understated chic. Every piece in the shop's tightly edited collection was rigorously considered. "Everything needed to be wearable," says Gale. "We wanted items that a woman could put on in the morning and they would last into the evening, always looking great." The designs may be versatile, but they're certainly not basic. A black Nektar de Stagni A-line dress features a flash of beading across a curved bust-line, while panels of sky and navy blues radiate down the front of a simple shift. The pendant on a delicate Melissa Joy Manning necklace has improbably deep coloring.
Gale and Niederhoffer hope Thistle & Clover becomes the hub of the burgeoning Fort Greene creative community. They already carry local label Tylho's silk shirtdresses and Bittersweets NY's customizable gold jewelry, and they plan to grow that roster every few months, when the shop will host Open Calls, inviting emerging area designers to come in and show their wares.
Four fresh shops break ground in the big city.