Amid the coronavirus pandemic, menswear outfitter O.N.S Clothing opened the doors of a new store designed by Hong Kong–based studio COLLECTIVE. Right before government-mandated shutdowns began, the furniture brand was wrapping up construction on its own new headquarters in New York.
“Before lockdown, we were on a schedule to complete construction in two weeks. Once the lockdown happened and construction slowly started back up, we were faced with larger challenges that were created by vendor supply chains and a lack of man-power, which elongated the whole process,” said Betty Ng, founder of COLLECTIVE.
It’s unfortunate because COLLECTIVE positioned the new store as a space for both retail and events.
“Our mission is to one day utilize the space for music events accommodating 100-to-200 guests and events for a smaller audience of 50-to-100 and intimate events like panel talks and readings,” Ng said.
Her studio outfitted the establishment with a “stage” with an obliquely cut curtain that defines the room. Crafted from fabric made by Danish textile purveyor Kvadrat, the 100-foot curtain can be deployed to transform display areas for exhibitions, pop-ups, trunk shows, and so on.
“It’s a new type of event venue within a traditional sales outlet, where retail hybridization can happen with crossovers and bringing in setups for the fashion community,” Ng said.
A communal spirit has long been one of O.N.S Clothing’s defining characteristics, and the storefront helps the global menswear brand secure its position in New York, helping it to build a new audience and relationships with neighbors.
“The challenges were most evident when sourcing materials that fit the vernacular aesthetic,” Ng said.“We wanted to have a unique design perspective and appeal differently than any other store.”
Located on a brick-lined street, the interior extends 65 feet deep, 5 feet down from street level. The designers handled the site’s depth by zoning the space into two areas: the major O.N.S retail outlet upfront; and the second zone, a stage for displaying products and events, at the rear.
The design for the flagship focuses on strengthening its presence in Nolita, not only as a traditional clothing brand but also as an inward extension of the street. To bring visitors inside, the Ng’s team inserted big skylights above an unassuming oak room.
“We sourced a thicker and more opaque glass for the storefront to allow the inside to be connected to the outside,” said Ng. “Our assumption was that passers-by would be drawn in and scan other design elements of the store.”
The space is similar to an art gallery. COLLECTIVE worked with Brooklyn-based Facture Studio on custom resin furniture to showcase layers of products and a custom cash wrap. Rendered in a mix of opaque colors and translucent gradients, the geometric forms read like a landscape.
While much of the fashion industry might not be able to raise a glass to the store’s opening or see its stage in-person anytime soon, customers are invited, on a limited basis, by appointment.
Header image: The changing rooms are swathed in tiles from a collection manufactured by Italian ceramics purveyor Mutina. Designed by Ronan and Erwan Bouroullec, the collection is the result of a two-year study of a three-dimensional rhomboid. (Eric Petschek)