From Swiss Grandmas to You: Ikou Tschuss

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Published December 16, 2010

 

 

 

“Change is in the wind,” says Italian-born, Zürich-raised Carmen D’Apollonio, referring to the sudden and brutal wind chill that’s swept the North Atlantic and the huddled and shivering New Yorkers passing outside of her Nolita storefront. For these frozen Manhattanites, Ikou Tschüss is a haven: warmly lit and spacious, the thick knits look so inviting that almost every passerby eyes them hungrily. D’Apollonio shows the way into her atelier behind the storefront, where, next to her lunch and a newspaper, is a large ball of yarn and two knitting needles. “My partner Guya Marini and I make the prototypes, and then we send them to Swiss grandmas,” she explains when I point them out. “They take our ideas and make them on a large scale.”

This homespun ethos pervades the brand, which opened its New York flagship almost two months ago. D’Apollonio said that she had initially had a few handmade scarves—her signature pieces, handprinted silk with crocheted borders—in her friend’s showroom, Public Image, which was then picked up by It-retailer Colette. “It all happened so quickly,” D’Apollonio said, reflecting on the brand’s two-year-old trajectory. But even in the rush to produce product, Ikou Tschüss’ wool garments are carefully bespoke: wool is either 100% cashmere or merino, and the silk comes from fair-trade locations in either South America or Tibet. And the workmanship shows. “Sure, it is winter, and we have lots of knits, but we love color,” D’Apollonio explains. Two-inch thick wool hats are piled on a table, with matching mittens. Squashy pillows line the windows, and outfit-making statement sweaters hang on minimalist white clothing racks. Suddenly, the weather outside looks manageable, with a sweater that makes any offering from American retailers seem threadbare.

Perfectly placed on Centre Market Street, a small alley-like path off of Broome, the store is both simple and quirky, a refreshing stop away from Broadway. Swiss artist Urs Fischer designed the entire interior—from the white-bricked walls to the antiqued, haphazardly patterned floor — to match the eclectic colors of the wares. For the holiday, D’Apollonio has refined her silk scarf, this time with plaid and polka-dots, edging each border with a contrast stitch. Since each scarf is hand-printed and each sweater woven by Omas, no two items are the same. So not only is Ikou Tchsüss an environmentally sound and socially responsible way to own a heritage piece, but on a blustery New York day, it might be a smart investment, as well.

IKOU TSCHUSS IS LOCATED AT 8 CENTRE MARKET PLACE, NY.