Manhattan – East Village
616 E 9th St between Avenue B and Avenue C
Absolute Beginners Some college students spend their free time binge drinking and hooking up, but a group of determined youngsters from Parsons the New School for Design are taking a different route. Encouraged by professor Pascale Gatzen, a group of seniors (Rebecca Lessene, Alex Parkin and Michael DiPietro) transformed a small and dingy storage space in the East Village into a boutique for up-and-coming designers. "It wasn't always this clean," says DiPietro. After a lot of cleaning and refinishing the floor, tearing apart the drywall to expose the brick wall beneath, and repainting every last inch, the place is now shopworthy. While some aspects seem very start-up (like the dressing room made out of cardboard), the pieces for sale are anything but rudimentary. Innovative designs include handmade and hand-painted organic dresses ($175), asymmetrical black-and-white patterned leggings ($36) and unique rope-constructed jewelry (starting at $100). The furniture is also up for grabs, like a Nightwood wooden chair with detailed upholstery, which was found and refurbished with old materials ($100). The shop continues to grow in participants, all of whom contribute to the rent. We have a feeling the place will soon be packed with unique creations from emerging designers, one of whom might just be the next Marc Jacobs.
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