UNIS in Brownstone Brooklyn
Published August 17, 2009
UNIS in Brooklyn. Photos by Alex Volkov
Nolita boutique Unis has long lured locals to its storefront to sit or browse the minmal, vintage-feeling collection full of handsome basics. But Downtown’s answer to Hamptons-wear got a whole new audience when the New York Times‘ “Critical Shopper” praised the brand’s “close-fitting and clean-looking” style. People started day trips from the Upper East Side—they weren’t quite busing, although they might be used to the Jitney—to shop at Unis. And with new locations popping up everywhere, this season for the brand is indeed critical.
Mostly men drop by the shop because, while designer Eunice Lee does come out with the occasional jumper or sundress, menswear is her forte. For this fall and winter, she’ll be sticking to her roots and cutting out women completely. The eight-year-old brand is creatively helmed by Lee and is run by a small staff promoting a grassroots New York company, with a by-locals-for-locals attitude.
Designer Eunice Lee
Hanging out is encouraged–if not outright promoted–by the store’s cushy decor and laid-back clothing. Smart, relaxed trousers and a well-worn (but not worn-out) shirts. The brand appears in other “local-ish” shops that cater to a casual, but still pristine, crowd. Think Mos Def, who is a self-proclaimed fan.
“Local-ish” includes SoHo’s Oak and Southampton’s pop-up TBD (To Be Determined), and a just-launched annex location in Carroll Garden boutique Smith + Butler. Noticing a lack of menswear in the west Brooklyn neighborhood–one full of young, dapper guys–the label determined it to be the perfect spot for an outpost. Smith + Butler is home to vintage Triumph bikes, loads of mod-inspired helmets, and strange housewares that have more in common with found-art than the nearby IKEA. Lee (with designer Whitney Delgado) helped renovate the space’s old kitchen by stocking the interior with weathered crates, exposing brick, and brightening up with skylights. If Elizabeth Street is well-pressed Manhattanites street-watching in benches, then Carroll Gardens is a heritage-inspired, pipes-and-brick Brooklyn neighborhood spot.
With a borough expansion, UNIS is attempting something new in evening wear. Lee has been working quietly on the project, shuttling back and forth from Manhattan to her Brooklyn-based tailor. Of course, the clothes are not only designed in New York, but made there, too.
UNIS is located at 226 Elizbaeth St., New York. Smith + Butler is at 225 Smith St., New York.