When it comes to fashion, if it’s too tight, too tall, or too trendy, you’ll be cursing like a sailor and swearing bloody vengeance on your garment’s designer by day’s end. True fashionistas know, when you feel good, you look good – or, at least, happier than you would teetering around in four-inch, bunion-inducing stilettos. Elegantly comfortable clothes interlaced with unique details is the go-to style mantra for a certain set of sophisticated women, and it also happens to be the core philosophy behind NoLita’s latest and greatest fashion outpost, Thomas Sires. The propietrixes of the new Elizabeth Street boutique are Fiona Thomas and Allison Sires, who met working side by side at Loeffler Randall. Thomas was the PR Director and Sires helmed the design team. They bonded over a love of fashion, unique objects, and a desire to one day open their own boutiques. Over time and work-related globe trotting, they also discovered a shared admiration for the lifestyle boutiques they frequented in Japan and France. Early in 2010, the idea to curate their own store with a bit of everything they love in stock took shape, and Thomas Sires was born.
The shop’s sleek, minimalist space is peppered with clothes and products from around the world, each having their own whimsical twist. Think Scoop meets Kate’s Paperie meets the MoMA store and you’ll get the idea. Thomas Sires has designed an eponymous clothing line cut in comfortable chic silhouettes that, with a change of heel, shift seamlessly between work and play; their lingerie is as cute as it is sexy, and you’ll wish the gals had made their children’s sweaters and dresses in adult sizes. The shelves are also packed with oft-overlooked everyday items like undeniably chic dog collars and Bonpoint perfume, hilarious Japanese soap-on-a rope fish, and the ephemeral, like Pieter Stockman’s colorful porcelain candle holders. As Thomas explained about the duo’s buying choices, “Functional items like a notebook don’t have to be so standard. If it’s well designed or has interesting details, it can be so much more fun.”
And speaking of fun, the launch party Thomas Sires threw last night spilled out into the streets in the arctic night, attracting the kind of uptown/ downtown crowd the store and its owners’ aesthetic exude: casual chic, understated sophistication, global minimalism, West Coast whimsy with an East Coast heart. While fur-lined hunting hat fashion types dominated the scene, cultural tastemakers, from restaurants and art to media and nightlife, tippled and talked amongst themselves, and to me, about the fact that Thomas Sires is filling a void New York never knew it was missing.
Bonnie Morrison, who, with her Wildean wit and Saville-sexy style represents one of fashion’s coolest dames, was lending a helping hand, passing out champagne to designers Sam Shipley and Jeff Halmos, who were standing near David Lipke of Women’s Wear Daily. Lipke couldn’t get enough of the “charming store that’s incredibly inviting and has an amazing collection of pieces from all over the world.” Nearby, General Manager/ Wine Director of Craftbar, Hayden Felice, one of the most fashionable (and eligible) men in the food service industry, was canoodling with Victoria Birch, an editor at Taschen, and Elizabeth Kohn, of Kohn & Schumacher interior design fame. To this trifecta’s right was a well-heeled group that included the heralded designer Thakoon Panichgul, who loved the stores novelty items and felt like he was “walking into Tokyu Hands, a department store I love in Japan.”
Guests marveled how Thomas and Sires were able to effortlessly bring so many cultures, eclectic pieces, and exciting people together under one roof. It probably had something to do with the fact that there was a keg in the changing room, but that’s another story entirely.
As a whole, the collection, like the hot pink neon Thomas Sires sign that hangs vertically in their window, is really, well, a lot of fun. And while “fun” isn’t a word normally associated with NoLita high fashion, it’s a relief to walk into a boutique that isn’t incredibly self-serious about its fashionable form as much as it’s serious about its cultural function. As purveyors of relaxed style, elegant design, humor, and functionality with flair, Thomas Sires is a classic store for modern times.