Write Up on Broadsheet - A New Yorker in Melbourne: Bleecker Street
Bringing a taste of NYC to the city of Stonnington, Bleecker Street is the newest menswear store to arrive on the strip.
By Dennis Marchese, 20th January 2011 Walking along Chapel Street, you might stumble across a street name that seems somewhat displaced. Normally found at the intersection of Eighth Avenue and Hudson, Manhattan, Bleecker Street is now on Chapel, just down from High.
Bringing a taste of NYC to the city of Stonnington, Bleecker Street is the newest menswear store to arrive on the strip. Founded by Aussies Gavin and Marika Ward, the store offers a well-edited selection of brands readily available in the big apple, but not so easily found here. Labels like Shades of Greige, JACHS and Sneaky Steve should have you dashing to the change rooms. But the Steven Alan shirts are our top pick – simple prints, soft washed cotton and one of the best fits around, they’re just the right length to wear un-tucked.
T-Squat Interview with Ace (The French Bulldog Fashionisto)
Bleecker Street online men’s boutique has become a virtual reality, opening up a flesh and blood shopfront on Melbourne’s Chapel Street. Just like the online boutique and its New York namesake, Bleecker Street runs the whole gamut of NYC style, from West Village prep to East Village grunge. Offering T-Squat an exclusive interview this issue, we have Ace ‘Booga’ Ward - the French bulldog you can find in the store wearing a shiny black coat that, much like effortless NYC cool, never goes out of style.
So how’s business?
Really busy. We’ve only been open a couple of weeks but I’ve been flat out keeping an eye on things and looking cute for the customers. We thought about hiring someone to take care of all that but, really, if you want something done right you’ve got to do it yourself. I’m a really hands-on kind of dog.
Was opening up your own store always part of the Bleecker Street plan?
It was never our ultimate aim to open our own store – it all sort of happened organically. Gavin and Marika came back from a stint living in NYC and they really wanted to make what’s available in men’s boutiques over there accessible to guys in Australia. Our online store keeps growing and we needed a new office o we thought, why not set up shop there too?
So does this begin a whole Bleecker Street franchise?
No – we have no intention of opening up more stores and making this a big chain. Marika and Gavin are way too busy taking me for walks and finding bones for me to chew.
Who fitted out your shop with such understated NYC style?
Not me – design’s not my thing so I stick to the PR side of things. Gavin used to work as an art director for a New York advertising agency so he had a lot to do with the store’s layout. Friends of ours helped out with things like the light fittings, for example. A lot of what works about the layout, I think, are just fun, simple ideas we had - like the gumball machine and the suitcases lined up against the wall, as though you’re about to pack your bags for a trip to New York.
What are some of your favourite items in the new Bleecker Street store?
Anything from Taped Live, Bleecker Street’s own label, of course! Some of the check shirts we have in stock are also a seriously good buy and I’m a big fan of tees from UNIF, which stands for ‘u’re not in fashion, that’s why we’re here’. I especially like their ‘3-Some’ tee. Check it out, dawg!
After starting their online store last year, Marika and Gavin Ward opened their physical, in real life, shop just before Chrismukkah. The fash duo lived in New York City and fell for the eclectic and fluid nature of style and fashion there, and decided to offer it to those living an ocean away. The Wards have backgrounds in fashion (Marika was/is a designer) and advertising, but – refreshingly – don’t take it all too seriously. Katie Olsen spoke with the pair about Bleecker St, New York City and now, Melbourne.
KO: Where did the idea for Bleecker St come from? BS: The idea came about while we were living in New York working in our respective industries of fashion and advertising. There is just so much cool shit oozing out of the city that we didn’t think was represented in Australia. So when we moved home we brought a whole load of stuff back with us and the rest is history.
KO: You guys lived in the East Village for a while, right? So are obviously a pretty good team for sourcing NYC fashion – what is New York City style to you? BS: We think New York style is exactly like the city itself, eclectic and forever changing. If you take a walk down Bleecker Street you’ll start in the grungy East Village, curve up to the fashion savvy district of Soho, walk past the bar and vintage store clad area around NYU in Greenwich Village, and then up through the boutique fashion and housing in the well groomed West Village. This is the idea behind our store, a mash up of different labels, products and styles from preppy and classic to street and grunge.
KO: Who’s the Bleecker St kind of man? BS: He is a confident guy who isn’t afraid to cry, but would also kick your ass for laughing at him crying.
KO: You’re going to branch out into women’s wear too? Can you tell us what’s planned? BS: Within the last two years we have started a successful online site, launched our in-house label taped LIVE, developed a distribution company to handle our exclusive rights to the labels we carry and now we have just opened a physical store. So before we answer that question we need some sleep… Nah, who are we kidding? We don’t sleep we just paint eyeballs on the back of our eyelids and sit in the store.
KO: Fair enough… What made you move Bleecker St into a physical store, not just online? BS: It just happened by chance actually. We were looking for a new office and had just found this amazing loft space, so we walked around the corner to grab a coffee at Dukes (Chapel St, Melbourne) to discuss it and stumbled across the vacant store. Seven weeks of demolition and construction later, we have finally opened the doors. It’s great to be able to meet all our weird and wonderful online customers in the flesh.
KO: What’s your favourite thing about New York City? BS: We love the people. Go into any post office or subway station in New York City and you are in the presence of some of the most caring, sophisticated and mentally sane people in the world… Jokes aside, we love the way every day in the city is different. Shit changes so quickly, you’ve gotta hang on tight for the ride.
KO: What can shoppers expect from Bleecker St? BS: We would like to say there is something in our store for everyone, but that’s a lie. We would also like to say that we can make anyone look good in our clothes, but that’s also a lie. We’re good, but we can’t work miracles. To put it simply: we have stuff you can’t get anywhere else, and we only ever have a few of each so when it’s sold out it’s gone for good.
Brands carried are Han Cholo, AK Vintage, Beta Unit, Joyrich, Kid Dangerous, Kiss LA and many others. More at bleeckerst.com.