Recently I had been hearing from some friends about a new store in Williamsburg, Brooklyn called GRAYMARKET. I got in touch with one of the store’s founders Alex Kasavin and he invited me to visit the space this past week. While Williamsburg has been making strides in terms of nightlife and restaurants the neighborhood has never been known for its designer-clothing options. Founders Alex Kasavin and Wei Du set-out to provide what they call ‘archival designer clothing’ for men and women and I am happy to report that they have succeeded in creating a very special shop that stands alone in New York.
On the shops neatly organized racks I found jackets, tops , bottoms and shoes from some of my personal favorite brands : Givenchy, Number (N)ine, Undercover, Rick Owens and Carol Christian Poell just to name a few. It was truly a joy browsing the shop’s strange and wonderful assortment of items that I have always been very particular about mixing and matching with pieces across brands and collections and I am sure anyone with a similar outlook will find something for them at Graymarket.
Alex and Wei were gracious enough to answer a few questions I had about Graymarket.
Please introduce the concept behind Graymarket and how it came to fruition
Graymarket is a retail project inspired by our interest in fashion, art, and alternative modes of commerce. Graymarket offers a curated selection of archival items from a range of artisanal and luxury designers and presents a unique narrative through the juxtaposition of bleak avant-garde and polished glam aesthetics.
Graymarket is the unexpected result of endless hours of discussion. We did not aim to create a retail concept. The idea developed organically and we pursued it.
What made you feel that Williamsburg was the right neighborhood to open your shop?
We have lived, worked, and partied here for many years. We derive constant inspiration from Williamsburg’s vibrant culture of music, art, design, and fashion. We can’t imagine being anywhere else.
Despite the diverse range of pieces across and seasons available for sale there is a certain cohesiveness in the stock you carry. How were you able to curate such an interesting assortment of pieces?
In general we seek out pieces that we see ourselves and our friends wearing. We are especially drawn to garments that bear their creator’s indelible mark and can’t be mistaken for the work of another designer. Beyond that we look for pieces that can be combined to form interesting silhouettes.
I was quite impressed by the womenswear pieces available, does your buying philosophy differ when it comes to women as opposed to men?
We take a similar approach to our women’s selection. Ultimately it’s about finding bold, wearable pieces that convey the vision of the designer.
Which labels or designers have been impressing you of late?
Givenchy! The recent Spring Summer 2013 presentation demonstrates the power and breadth of Riccardo Tisci’s vision. We are impressed with his ability to combine evocative prints with various leitmotifs that range from somber to whimsical with unique color palettes and innovative yet seemingly effortless silhouettes.
Where do you find inspiration for your personal style from outside the fashion world?
We are primarily inspired by our neighborhood, each other, and our friends. We are also influenced by street culture ranging from punk to hip hop, paramilitary attire favored by various revolutionary groups, and contemporary art.
How do you see Graymarket growing and evolving in the future?
This is a wonderful and chaotic time in fashion and we consider ourselves lucky to be a small part of it. We want to do the best that we can now and prefer to take things day by day rather than looking too far ahead.
You can visit Graymarket at 242 Wythe Avenue, Brooklyn
Words and Photography by Rocky Li