The fashion fabric of New York is as varied and extensive as the people who inhabit the city. Not merely because stores like Barneys and Bergdorf Goodman exist, nor for the many designer boutiques that dot SoHo and Park Avenue. Attention must also be given to the smaller stores that are more specific, their clientele more dedicated, and their selection more limited. These stores do not simply serve as alternatives to bigger name stores; they are essential to the variety that make New York what it is. Graymarket located in Williamsburg, is one such place.
Upon entering Graymarket, one is first struck by the strict adherence to an aesthetic. The store’s overall palette is dark. Racks of black clothing with black footwear beneath them stand out against the clean white walls and stone flooring. Yet this rigid aesthetic is only one aspect of this store’s varied and detailed offerings. Look from one pair of black trousers to the next and you can see, in every item, a difference in stitching and fit. This is not a store for the quick shopper; it is tailored for the watchful collector.
Collection is a theme that is central to Graymarket. The store’s owners, Alex Kasavin and Wei Du, say that the store was born from their shared passion of collecting. What was a side interest for both of them turned into a structure, which transformed into the store today. These are items hand selected not for their trends but for their worth. The store ignores seasonal structures and what is stocked is only present until it is gone. The space has the air of an archive of items from the past mixed with pieces from the current season. This is a collection of clothing not focused on dressing for trend but for timelessness, which stays true to the philosophy of the store. Owner Alex states that the idea is to consider fashion as “something you participate in rather than just consume.”
When asked about the reason for starting the store, Alex said, “There was nothing like it here in Williamsburg, much less in Brooklyn.” This statement is certainly true. Tucked away right off the Bedford stop on the L train, the store is an anomaly in the area. It is not a typical boutique in Brooklyn. Monday through Thursday, the store is open by appointment only, and on Fridays and Saturdays, it’s open from 12 to 7. Their hours indicate a sort of seriousness that is more often associated with an art gallery than a boutique.
Talking to the owners of the store reveals that their interest in fashion is as intellectual as the store’s offerings. The earlier comparison between art collection and fashion became even more relevant while discussing the ways in which art and fashion have begun to converge. The designers that Graymarket stocks are not always considered mainstream. Some do not adhere to the seasonal schedule in regards to showing their collections, and instead opt to work and show when they feel collections are necessary. This is a system more akin to the way we perceive an artist’s work habits rather than a fashion designers. When talking to Alex about the collection that first stood out to him and in some way led to Graymarket today. He mentioned seeing Carol Christian Poell’s 2007 collection at Atelier; another avant garde boutique in New York. Alex stated that the moment “blew his mind and spoke to the possibility of fashion to speak in a much more profound way than he thought possible” This philosophy is what fuels the store today and it has certainly resounded throughout the community. Graymarket, while only 6 months old, is already a noted space and has had multiple write-ups in notable publications. According to to Alex, he also learned that word of Graymarket had spread overseas when he was traveling in Europe.
With such a strong reputation forming so quickly and a clear distinction in its offerings, we can expect to see Graymarket become an important thread in New York’s extensive fashion fabric.
242 Wythe Ave. #7
Mon-Thurs by appointment only
Fri-Sat 12 to 7 pm
Credits: Written by Marcus Cuffie/Dustulator, reporting from NY, New York. Images courtesy of author.