Ever since his eclectic creations began earning plaudits from New York City style bloggers, fashion designer Brian Stanziale has been making the transition from underground design genius to the next big thing. Specializing in the art of transformation, he uses a variety of techniques to reconstruct simple, vintage garments, giving birth to an entire line of one-of-a-kind statement pieces that could easily be worn by Lady Gaga or any other fearless fashion maverick. Under the name Sloane NYC, the line was formerly sold out of an old factory building on the outskirts of Chinatown, where it attracted a loyal following of socialites and fashion trailblazers (like Kate Hudson and Genevieve Jones). The space, which has since closed its doors, served as a fashion laboratory and showroom for Stanziale’s inventive designs, doubling as an underground party spot at night. Fortunately, Stanziale’s journey didn’t end there. He recently launched a new line of redesigned vintage under his own name. Here, the designer comments on life before and after the death of Sloane NYC.
Early Work: I studied [fashion design] in Chicago at Colombia College, which I hated. It’s the most stifling thing for a creative person to study what you want to do. I moved to New York and started working at this shop called Operations and from there I built my book as a window designer; [working] for Ralph Lauren, Tommy Hilfiger, and Dolce and Gabbana, but all the while still sewing in my apartment at night and giving things to friends here and there.
Sloane NYC, the store: It turned into Sloane NYC through my friend Aaron Genuth who had the space. I was working on a lingerie collection at the time and we needed a spot to shoot and the store was empty, except for racks of vintage clothing and a few sewing machines in the back. He was like, “You should just shoot it here, I’m not doing anything with it.” In between shots, I started taking the vintage clothing and just fucking with these pieces, and making them cool. Myla (the model) was like, “Lets shoot them.” The photographer was down, I was down, so we ended up getting six packs of beer and having a 20-hour day. We realized that we had a product, and Aaron was like, “Let’s do the store.”
Favorite techniques: I find pieces that might have been crazy and amazing to begin with, but are a little outdated, or take things that were just basic, simple. I like experimenting with the way that you wear basic things, making you look at something in a completely different way. Shredding is fun, but it makes me nervous. I like inverting things; I find the inner construction of garments to be the most beautiful thing on earth. I took this one YSL skirt and I flipped it inside out. The outside was this matte, basic fabric. It was a pleated, Mary-Jane skirt, but the inside had this shiny satin, all this hand detailing, and the seams; the way that they were bound was mind-blowing. I flipped it inside out, switched the zippers, studded the bottom, and put suspenders on it.
The Clientele: Kate Hudson bought a sweater, which is pretty cool. Catherine Malandrino’s creative director came in on our first day and spent an hour and a half. Also, the creative director for this brand named Oasis. Art directors, stylists, local socialites. The exact person that I’m trying to target is people who don’t care if it’s new, don’t care if it’s old, just care if it’s chic. People who get excited to dress.
Basement parties: Idle hands are the devil’s playground, and it was once an idle space. We didn’t really decide, the space decided for us. There was a bar built in when we got there. We decided to make it a whole lifestyle idea; we’d have customers come in and we’d be like, “Go check out downstairs.” There would always be something going on, whether it was 10 a.m. and we just had liquor or a joint left over from the night before. There was always some reason to send people who we wanted to infuse into the brand downstairs. You’d buy a jacket and then all of a sudden you’ve spent the last 3 hours playing beer pong in the basement. The gates went down, the curtains shut, you could have the biggest rager on earth and the entire building was empty so we didn’t have any neighbors to worry about. If we didn’t have parties there, we would’ve been the biggest losers in the city.
Brian Stanziale, the label: After we got Sloane going and off the ground, we lost our space, but I still loved what I was doing. I had this weird moment where I was like, if I was to be known for doing just this, I wouldn’t mind. It would make me really happy. Then I launched Brian Stanziale, which is the same concept. I’m at a point now where I’m realizing that stuff has to sell, so I’m doing stuff that’s not as crazy as I’d like it to be. The brand that is going to be my name is just going to be over the top, out of this world stuff; think Lady Gaga on crack.
The bright future: In a couple years, I’d like to have a five-story chateau in France next to Valentino’s. Honestly when I moved to New York, I made a conscious statement to myself, like “I’m going to be young, broke, and hungry for a long time, I know this.” It’s an expensive city, and there is nothing but amazing competition, and talent everywhere. Every time a plane lands, or a bus comes, in or a car crosses the bridge, there are people that are younger, taller, richer, skinnier, and more talented. You know that you’re going to have to fight for anything that you’re going to have.