translates well to the decor of the store.
I like how the skeletal wall is cleverly transformed into clothing racks.
Below, the wall has been chiseled away to partially reveal
the years of paint layers and older brickwork underneath.
Form follows function with This Old Thing? designs.
Detail of the fitting room curtain.
Designers Roy Caires and Tommy Cole exude such raw fashion energy, you will be rewarded with a different treat for the eyes each time you visit their shop. The two own and expertly run ALTER, now nearly 4 months old, and also design their own hot-selling clothing label 'This Old Thing?' (principally Menswear, but with plenty of Womenswear; deconstructed and reconstructed vintage).
Believe me when I say, when you visit ALTER you will get into such interesting, exciting and in-depth conversations about fashion, trend and creativity that you will ask yourself, "Why do I leave my tape recorder at home when I come to ALTER? This is really good stuff. I could not possibly remember all the great things I just learned. I must bring my tape recorder next time."
Talking to Roy and Tommy is somewhat like talking to Karl Lagerfeld. They have their own clear design vision and can speak about it eloquently. These two have their finger on the pulse of something uniquely their own; and it is rather exciting to hear their ideas about the world of design. When you visit the store, you get to understand a bit about what makes them tick and how they see the world. Plus you will get many referrals about more cool things to check out: Websites, blogs, podcasts, a special event where Tommy will be DJing, stores, designers. You get the idea.
EP: Why Franklin Street?
TC: Franklin Street chose us. Last October (2006) a friend of ours came across a posting on Craig's List for a retail/commercial space in Greenpoint, so we called the realtor immediately. We had no idea where in Greenpoint it was, but we were sure we wanted to take it. When we got to the space and realized it was across the street from Dalaga (where we had been selling our line already) we knew it was meant to be. We signed a long term lease a few days later.
RC: Yes, our Franklin Street location was something of pure fate. The space randomly fell in our lap and was coincidentally a few yards away from Dalaga. I saw that this area was going through a massive renovation and modernization. So it fit perfectly with our aesthetic of mixing old and new. We thought it would be a perfect place to set up our shop and to be a part of this neighborhood's gentrification.
EP: Talk about your buying philosophy and/or vision for the store.
TC: My vision for Alter was to create a space with a strong, raw, creative energy to it. The build-out of the shop took about 10 weeks of 12 hour days. Roy and I built, painted, and reconstructed pretty much every inch of the space so that it would have the same kind of aesthetic as the clothing we design. Alter will always be evolving... a work in progress!
RC: Our buying philosophy always starts off by what we like to wear. Our style of dressing is very much mixing old and new -- designer and vintage. We try to evoke this style with our space and the items that we stock in the shop. We enjoy experimenting with texture, fit, and mixing pieces that give a unique twist and silhouette. We look for those characteristics when we select items for our shop.
The vision for the store is to continue to offer original designs and labels to our growing customer base. We are working on creating and stocking exclusive collections and products that embody the ALTER look. We have in the works exclusives from a variety of designers, locally and internationally. We are looking forward to expanding the shop to cater to the demand that we already have with just the 3.5 months that we have been open.
EP: How long have you been in the fashion business?
TC: I've been "in" the fashion business about 7 years. I had my first (of many) retail jobs in 2000 at a store in Boston called Ozone. I proceeded to work retail instead of going to college because I made good money, met amazing people, and got a fantastic business education for free. I started experimenting with reconstructing clothing during this time as well. I moved to New York in 2003, at which point Roy and I reunited and started our own line called 'This Old Thing?'RC: I have been in the retail industry for 12 years now. Working for major corporate stores, small independent high end boutiques to internationally respected designer boutiques. My duties have always been in sales, managerial positions and even posts as visual directors. I have always loved retail from every angle and now I can put all my years of knowledge into my own shop.
EP: What are your top-selling items/designers?
TC: We sell a lot of our own This Old Thing? creations. They are one of a kind pieces, they are super funky, and they are inexpensive. We also do very well with Cheap Monday jeans and Fetty of Brooklyn jewelry. Oh, and dresses, tons of them.
RC: Alter's top-selling items are always This Old Thing?, our own design label. From men's vests and ties to women's dresses and jackets. We can't keep them in stock! Cheap Monday denim from Sweden is also very popular because of their great skinny fit and $65 price tag!
EP: Name 2-3 hot trends you will capitalize on for Spring/Summer 07.
RC: Its hard to pinpoint one or two key trends that we will be following for s/s 07 because we just do what we like and feel. And it changes all the time. But I have been thinking about color and volume for myself and so that will probably subconsciously translate into my spring selections for the shop.
TC: I don't know if they're hot trends, but I am always going for a garage glam/cowboy couture look. Lots of plaid and fringe, pointy pointy shoes, and really tight jeans are the basics of this look. Cropped jackets & blazers for men will soon take over the world as well, I will see to it!
Want to learn more about the making of ALTER? Check out this podcast docu-series about Tom and Roy (silhouettes pictured at left -- Roy has the scissors, Tommy is wearing cowboy boots), by David Becker and Pamela Romanowsky.
109 Franklin Street (at Greenpoint Avenue)
Brooklyn, NY 11222
G to Greenpoint Ave
ALTER is the third store portrait in our new "Shopping on Franklin" special feature. Watch for another store portrait in 2 weeks.
Left and right details of a one-of-a-kind men's shirt from "This Old Thing?'
(Click on the image to enlarge)
designs special pieces just for the store.
Pictured above: disc necklaces with black, champagne and white diamonds
and engraved Alter silhouette charm necklaces.
including constructing all the fixtures. I love this piece.
The ALTER Altar, as I like to call it, is where the register sits.