The World's Coolest Shops: Reed Space NYC
Located in New York City’s Lower East Side, Reed Space is a haven for streetwear lovers everywhere. Bringing in customers from all over the world and selling items from hundreds of designers like Stussy, Nike SB, Dipset USA and Penfield, Reed Space is one of the beacons of New York fashion that takes cues from hip-hop, skate culture, and straight up downtown living. Owner Jeff Staple is a heavyweight in the streetwear world, and the shop started off as a place for him to carry his namesake T-shirt line. Over the course of the last decade, streetwear has taken on a life of its own, crossing into mainstream brands, celebrity looks, high-fashion runways, and the landing pages of style blogs across the web. In tandem, Reed Space has managed to tow the line between evolution into a multi-brand destination store and the same friendly, neighborhood shop it started out as.
Reed Space is a “lifestyle boutique” — a truly eclectic retail space with its own art gallery featuring work from celebrated artists like Parra, and Faile. During the evening it doubles as an event space where visual artists, photographers, emerging clothing designers and musical talent can show off their latest work. In May of 2012, John Mayer hosted a pop up shop at Reed Space to celebrate the release of his album Born and Raised. Tonight, the shop hosts #AudioVision, the latest in a series of events that bring music and visual art together to liven up the sometimes-stuffy atmosphere of a gallery opening.
We sat down with Jeff Staple to find out how such a unique store came to life, what’s set in the future for Reed Space, and what you should not be wearing this coming spring. Check out the full interview below and click through the thumbnails above to see more of the store.
What brought Reed Space to life?
Reed Space was born literally in December of 2001, so we opened four months after 9/11 happened—not a good time to open in downtown Manhattan. It was the coldest and worst winter to open up in. What prompted Reed Space? It really came out of a necessity. Back then street culture was so small, there weren’t really retailers that were set up for brands like us. In ‘02 there were a handful of brands — everyone knew everyone. I knew every single designer of every single streetwear brand. There were a lot of people having complaints that no good store represented us, so I took it upon myself to say I’m going to open that store, and Reed Space was born.
Was there a particular event/person/moment in your life that made you say, “Ah yes I want to own a cool retail space in NYC”?
Actually Reed Space is named after my high school art teacher, Michael Reed. He passed away while he was teaching me, but regardless of that he had a huge influence in my life in terms of teaching, art and design and so when he passed away, it made a even bigger impact on my life.
How do you see your retail space evolving in the future? Is there a particular addition/extension you have in mind?
One thing that I see now with the Internet, kids everywhere, even outside of big cities, know about our culture. They’re smart and hip to it. So what I’d like to do now is start expanding Reed Space physical locations, but not your usual suspect cities.
How do you decide what designers you want to showcase at your boutique?
Well, we have an incredible buying team now. We’re a lifestyle store so we have everything from books, magazines, artwork, bags, hats, sneakers, t-shirts, music, stationery, all sorts of stuff. And we have a buyer for each department now, so there’s an art buyer, women’s buyer, a footwear buyer, and my title is technically founder and creative director, but I really trust them that they bring in the right product.
What inspires you on a day-to-day basis?
Honestly, it’s our mix of customers. It’s so dope. You spend an hour in [the shop] and sit in a corner like a fly on the wall, you’ll see the dopest mix of colors, races, sexualities, ages, all lining up in here.
Proudest moments as an owner?
Honestly, every single time I am walking around the city and I see someone holding a Reed Space shopping bag, it’s the best feeling in the world. It’s awesome.
Clothing item you never want to see people wearing again?
So many to choose from, let’s see…I would say backwards overalls like Cris Cross — we don’t need to retro that. I think the right person can rock overalls properly but the backwards ones, no — that needs to R.I.P.
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June 03, 2014 via Pepsi