In most parts of the world, high-end fashion and the Salvation Army don't typically suggest a deep connection. Farrah Zeigler and Dana Schulman, graduates of FIT and the designers behind the young, rebellious label, Redtoenails, however tend to disagree, as a bonanza of fabrics the duo snatched up at an SA in New Jersey led to an unexpected, "overnight" success.
"Every Wednesday [this Salvation Army] would have a 50% sale. And we'd walk out with bags and bags full of stuff," says Dana. "We'd come home, dye everything, rework it, and add a sense of cohesiveness to the clothes. We came up with styles that sold really well." So well, in fact, that the pair's first collection was picked up by Amy Chan and Louis Boston among others when they first began some three years ago.
With a few successful collections under their belts and a new showroom/store in Williamsburg, trips to thrift stores have long ago ceased, but Zeigler and Schulman, who are also roommates living next-door to their work space, have not given up their penchant for the unorthodox. Inspiration comes from culture, music, art, and lifestyle. Among the initial highlights were ball gowns hewn from old Harley Davidson tees and several hand-painted "handcuff clutches" that developed a fast following.
"We're growing a lot with each season, always testing what we can really do, and see what our customers are responding to," says Dana. Fall will bring a more sophisticated spin with lots of earth tones. Dresses, which are the label's number-one claim to fame, are more functional and transition beautifully from day to night. Still, with pieces like the Walk of Shame dress (essentially a reworked men's button down shirt) don't expect any designs quite yet suitable for a boardroom meeting.
A windfall of bargain-basement thrift buys led this duo to craft a promising new label of chic wares. Meet the ladies behind Redtoenails.