Published July 2, 2009
There are plenty of Lower East Side men’s that stock various plaids and tweeds—very few that specialize in high-end and up-and-coming Belgian designs. Nonetheless, when Project No. 8, the understated but popular Chinatown boutique began to feel crowded, Brian Janusiak and Elizabeth Beer, the designer partners that opened the shop’s doors, decided to expand into untested waters. The store is one of several projects the duo has undertaken, from designer Obama buttons to book printing, to their own clothing line. The two thought they could take their understated style and convert it into a men’s store that wasn’t laden with brandy bottles and taxidermy.
Down the street, on the corner of Orchard and Hester, they opened 8b, Janusiak and Beer opened a bright, airy space geared towards guys. Differing from the tweed-friendly, safari-and-fireside vibes of traditional men’s stores, they wanted to create something accessible. Already stocked with favorites like Antwerp-native Stephan Schneider, No. 8b will also be home to the New York-debut of a couple of emerging labels, like Tsurukichi’s light Japanese creations or artist-designer Tom Scott’s debut men’s collection.
What sets 8b apart from its better-established counterparts is a partnership with German furniture label E15. “As we were signing the lease for the new store, they approached us about carrying our furniture. It seemed a natural fit,” explains Beer. Though furniture is Janusiak’s expertise, and he eagerly shows off the back, a consultation space for customers to browse E15’s entire catalogue. “It’s a basic, clean and minimal line,” Janusiak gushes. “Just so well made and simple.”The furniture on display is classic, mostly made of wood but featuring metal lamps and shelves, or modular pressed-wood bookcases.
The entire store has an open feel, even though its in an LES-sized space. Wooden E15 furniture is laid with tiny flasks or jump-drives made from fox tails. The aesthetic came from working with Brooklyn-based RSVP Studio’s principal, Brian Ripel, who also designed their first store.
The store already has an impressing assortment of wares, including an amazing pair of Martin Margiela limited edition loafers with nails in the soles (“There were only 100 made, and we have number 1,” says Janusiak. “Kind of on accident!” Beer corrects). For those who can’t afford to collect Margiela, the duo’s house line, Various Projects, has soft button-up shirts that run the gamut. The store itself feels more casual than its New York predecessors, with knits hanging from racks or colorful loafers lining the wall. And it’s not a boys club.