Lower East Side vintage boutique The Sweet Ones is the very personal project of 24-year-old Alyssa Pallett. Unlike the many vintage stores seemingly resembling department stores these days, The Sweet Ones is bursting with inspiration and liveliness -- a testament to the whimsical and multicolored mind of the young Pallett.
Growing up in Canada, Pallett was originally on the path to work in the film industry, but her sartorial, entrepreneurial spirit got the best of her. I recently played dress-up with Pallett one sunny afternoon, amid coyote fur coats and 1920s tulle skirts. Here's what we chatted about.
Tell me a little about your past in the fashion/retail industry, did you study fashion design/buying/business?
My experience with fashion is a very personal one: it's always been about experiencing myself through different kinds of clothes and testing out the ways in which different kinds of clothes would make me feel. I am a fast learner, so I think over the years I subconsciously was learning all this stuff about fashion without ever really knowing it, or trying. My eye for fashion is really not just about clothes, I look at the entire scene and imagine it like a still frame in a movie. It has to be full and rich and have a million stories written all over it.
The store's dÃ©cor feels bespoke and handcrafted. What was your inspiration behind the interior design? How do you feel it adds to your clients' experiences?
It's really just my personality, but in the form of a store. The
real heart of this place is going back to exploring myself when I was
eight-years-old and amplifying that personality. It's amazing because I
feel like I have gained back a lot of things I had lost in my heart and
soul, just through the process of making this store. It's really about
cutting out all the shit that made you lose hope for the world or for
life. It's about going back to where your mind was before all that
stuff affected it. After taking that journey I realized I'm kind of in
love with myself at eight-years-old. I really love who that girl was,
and the things she wanted out of life at that age. She was really
unafraid to dream as big as her mind could go. This store honors her.
In terms of the dÃ©cor, my other inspiration was Americana and all the good things about it. Growing up in Canada I always thought America was "The Shit," I envied everything about this country. The collaged wall in my store, that sort of sums up every bit of "cool"' that America has. I didn't realize how much this store was going to feel like such an homage to traditional Americaâ¦ it just sort of happened naturally.
Why did you open a vintage specific store? What sets The Sweet Ones apart from retailers Tokio7 and the like?
I just wanted a store, and since I loved clothes I knew I could find vintage pieces from every era that were beautiful and which I knew could represent what this store is all about. Also I think I was really inspired by vintage because it reminds me of all the movies I am in love with.
Every dress in my store has a character to go along with it. Sometimes you just really want to feel cool, and this store has all that stuff. But sometimes, there are moments in our life that call for a little bit extra, that sort of "Hollywood" perfection that elevates you into another galaxy.
I love it when people pick things up and just can't believe that they are touching something so authentic. That's the beauty of vintage. It's authenticity. You just know when you have the right vintage piece because it doesn't feel contrived; it just is what it is.
What has been your best "find" so far?
I have a long navy blue dress from the Civil War era. I was at a flea market buying a Victorian wedding gown with a train and the lady selling it to me almost let me leave before her son stopped and said, "Wait, what about the blue dress? She might want to see it." The woman pulls this dress out from some hidden place beneath the rack. I don't know why it was being hidden but I am honored that it was revealed and offered to me, it felt like I was being offered some sort of special sacrificial gift.
Anyways, she unraveled this huge thing and I just couldn't breathe. Think Gone With The Wind: you can just picture Scarlett struggling through the dirt fields and riding that buggy through the fire in this dress! The bottom is torn and burnt and the insides are dirty. It has these old tassels hanging off the bottom, draping, boning and all these little buttons everywhere. Oh ma lord, no one is ever allowed to actually buy this from me!
Where do you look for your own and The Sweet Ones' fashion inspiration? A particular person? An specific era?
There's really no era that I am particularly fixated onâ¦ I love it all. I love the '90s at this very moment because I watched The Craft this weekend and died for how superb the '90s were. I never even realized or appreciated this when I was a kid in the '90s, fashion is always way cooler
What is your favorite piece in the store right now?
I would pick this pink '50s Lillie Rubin dress with velvet flowers all over it and three delicate roses in the same fabric, decorating the front. The piece should be in a museum, it's so lovely. The skirt portion has four tiers, and the bodice is draped so beautifully. This dress and I were love at first sight.
The Sweet Ones 132 Allen St. (917) 675-3106