i am a fashion designer. gee
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are you a fonts enthusiast? a typophile?
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find the beauty on your daily walk! take time to notice the details of your landscape.
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there is nothing like seeing a great handbag in action.
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plastics are our future. how can you resist plastic? it is so shiny and pleasing. I have a penchant for plastics.
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chronicling my quest for the one true
Greek Cup
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have you ever noticed the similarity between nyc fire call boxes and benevolent Kannon, goddess of mercy?
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every design, fashion and art magazine I read lately features some important directional artist making big contributions to their genre. and where do they live? brooklyn!
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who says there are no more 'new ideas' in art and design? the newness is in the juxtaposition.
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this is how I really get things done. with my little green co-worker/task-master.
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my clothing & accessories design
east-meets-west minimalism

my site

the look
dressy utilitarian

my concept
useful, economical, modular pieces that can be mix-matched in numerous ways (because why can't fashion be useful and lasting? I think it can!) So I say Maximize your Minimalism!

Satin Karate Belt featured in Dec 06 Real Simple

Voted Best Designer 2006 Style Bakery
'On the Rise'

Daily Buss Feature

Luckymag.com Feature

in the blog press
midtown lunch
the girl who ate everything
queens eats
(into) the fray
funky finds
style document
gowanus lounge
far too cute
ethereal bliss
couture in the city
independent luxe
decor 8
funky finds
urban socialite
lady licorice
high fashion girl

more press...

furniture (especially chairs from the 50s and 60s), uniforms, repeating patterns, menswear, Oscar Niemeyer, traditional Japanese architecture, the Rimpa School and Ogata Korin's 8-Point Bridge, Matisse, bromeliads, succulents and other waxy flora

particular loves
bamboo, coral, moss, woodgrain, silhouettes & other cut-outs, plastic, low-resolution images, the photo copier, off-registration prints, Max Ernst's Lunar Asparagus, NYC fire call boxes that look like Kannon, Fauvist color sense, the Noguchi Museum, pretty much all of Abstract Expressionism

magazines of current interest
Domino, Elle Decor (British), ARTnews, Art in America, Wallpaper

favorite heel style
the wedge, but a sleek modern interpretation

second favorite
the stiletto

current shoe obsession
alas, the sneaker. (because I live in nyc and walk a ton!) but not too sneakery of a sneaker. more of a sneaker disguised as a shoe, like a mary jane style or a high-tech looking black one with a metallic accent. how about Royal Elastics? I must go try some on. I really like the non-sneakeryness of their styles.





shopping on franklin: alter

The deconstructed-reconstructed look of the This Old Thing? label
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.
Surface details often follow menswear tailoring details
enhancing the fit of the garment.

Detail of the fitting room curtain.

The ALTER signature boot vase with black flowers
is just one of the clever ready-mades in the store.

A closeup of the ALTER 'wallpaper'
handmade and one-of-a-kind, of course!

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.

I got to find out a bit more about Tommy Cole and Roy Caires via e-mail. Their story might inspire you to open you own store. Or at least, plan a shopping trip to theirs!

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.

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.

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?

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.

Split Screen
Left and right details of a one-of-a-kind men's shirt from "This Old Thing?'
(Click on the image to enlarge)

One of ALTER's exclusives: Fetty of Brooklyn
designs special pieces just for the store.
Pictured above: disc necklaces with black, champagne and white diamonds
and engraved Alter silhouette charm necklaces.

Roy and Tommy did the all of build-out for the store themselves,
including constructing all the fixtures. I love this piece.
The ALTER Altar, as I like to call it, is where the register sits.

The upsidedown hanger is just the beginning of the ALTER empire.

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