Anyone who knows me will tell you that nothing gets me excited quite like classic American menswear and some solid decor (no, no that kind of excited). I was therefore more than happy to hear that Kyle Garner, the dapper furniture aficionado behind Brooklyn-based Sit and Read, had been asked to curate Unis' flagship store, incorporating a number of pieces upholstered in remnant fabric from the Spring collection. The collaboration premiered Thursday night in Nolita, and the store was overflowing with fashionistas and furniture buffs eager to get a look at the many handsome pieces for sale (and some free rosÃ©, to boot). I spoke with Unis head designer Eunice Lee and Garner about working together, the overlap between fashion and furniture, and some of their favorite pieces.
So how did this collaboration come about?
Eunice Lee: Blogs are such a big deal now. All of my staff go on blogs, and when it comes to menswear, I think guys are so much more into researching and studying and being extra-nerdy about things like clothing, furniture, cars... so we found out about Kyle from other blogs and he just happened to be someone who was in New York, and we approached him about doing a collaboration. He seems to have this taste that's a little more modern vintage, not like rustic vintage, and that seems more suited to us as a brand. So I thought why not, lets try it. It's such a luxury to have someone else curate the space, and it keeps it fresh and interesting. It challenges me as a retailer to mix it up constantly.
How was your first collaboration with a fashion designer?
Kyle Garner: It's been really good. I really enjoy collecting and curating stuff, but I've done a lot to avoid going into retail myself, so doing something like this is right up my alley. Working with someone who already has an established shop and helping design it has been really awesome. I think fashion and furniture definitely go hand in hand because they're both very utilitarian art forms. Fashion is meant to be worn and furniture is meant to be used in everyday life, so there's definitely a crossover.
How would you describe your aesthetic?
KG: I'd say utilitarian furniture mostly. Utilitarian could be anything from like industrial to practical mid-century. Occasionally I'll mix in something that's purely sculptural and just about aesthetics, but I'm mostly interested in things that are used and have some sort of record or history to them.
Has the experience made you want to branch out and do more collaborations beyond fashion?
EL: Yeah, I think it opens up a lot more in my head creatively. I think right now my concentration is on men's clothing, but it definitely opens my taste level to different things and different categories.We had that Jake Ewert art opening here for a couple of months and it was kind of amazing. It was my first experience letting someone else creative curate my space and letting it go. It was scary initially, but then you realize there are so many other people with such great taste, and why not give them almost free range with the space? Kyle did such an amazing job not only merchandising his product, but also the entire collection.
Do you have favorite pieces?
EL: I definitely love the corduroy chair in the window, I thought that turned out amazing. It's more modern and more my style, but I think the other pieces he did are super cool. I challenged him with putting things up on the wall.
KG: That's a hard question. I love the Unis chair in the back. I had that chair in my apartment for about four years. My father found it, someone was throwing it out. I took it in and repaired the chair but the upholstery was always this horribly uncomfortable, nubby fabric. I always had a bunch of blankets draped over it. It's really comfortable. So I had it in my life for a while, so when this came along, I found the fabric used for the coat and I thought it was the perfect fabric for that chair.
All pieces are currently available for purchase at Unis Nolita
226 Elizabeth Street (btwn Houston and Prince)
Mon.-Sat. 11-7 p.m.; Sun. 12-7 p.m.