Aime Leon Dore . doesn’t really “do” womenswear, for starters. nor has it entertained the idea of joining the Fashion Week calendar. You won’t find the brand’s founder, Teddy Santis, at swanky fashion parties. For this article, he preferred not to do a “real interview” and asked not to be quoted. I was aware of this request before I met him at the store, but I figured I’d be able to change his mind. In my six years as a writer, I couldn’t remember someone not wanting their name in print. But Santis was only half joking when he said that it seems like most designers just want to be famous these days. He believes some of the best brands are the ones that the designers or founders rarely speak at all. Their faces aren’t all over Instagram; they aren’t releasing a new collaboration every week.
, hoodie, sweater, longsleeve and ladies t-shirtAnd they rarely, if ever, go on the record to talk about their brand . Santis isn’t trying to align himself with the Rei Kawakubos and Martin Margielas of the world, he just understands the power of anonymity.That said, his store on Mulberry Street is impossible to miss—especially compared to his first one, which was a much smaller, grungier space on Mott Street (right next door to Warm) with a discreet sign and a pair of Nikes dangling from the fire escape. When the temperatures crept above 50 degrees, the door and windows on Mott Street were usually open, so you could hear whatever record was spinning and catch a glimpse of the stylish, unaffected guys shopping inside. And yet, in spite of (or perhaps because of) its lack of pretension and insider-y vibe, the brand racked up top-tier stockists including Mr. Porter, Ssense, and Kith, and now enjoys a cult following around the world, particularly in Japan. Santis’s team is now 40 people strong.All of that feels a lot more evident in the new flagship. The pristine white-painted exterior is a bright spot on a crowded block, with elegant topiaries and planters nestled in front of the shop windows with scalloped awnings. It isn’t what you imagine for a “streetwear brand,” which is the real draw of Aimé Leon Dore. (The name is an amalgamation of the French word for love, Santis’s father’s name, Leon, and his own full name, Theodore.) Inside, there’s a massive rug with two leather couches, where a few customers were hanging out (we visited the store while it was open and most of the guys seemed oblivious to Santis). There are herringbone wood floors, French-inspired crown molding on the walls, marble display tables, custom brass rails. In a word, it’s gorgeous.
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