“We’re probably the only clothing store in New York with a 4 a.m. liquor license,” says Alexander Olch, as he puts the finishing touches on his first boutique on Delancey Street one night late last week (scroll down for photos). The accessories designer isn’t kidding: his shop carries his ties, scarves, bow ties, notebooks and other accessories in the snug main space, and there’s a secret door that leads to a bar. Manhattan has plenty of speakeasies, but nothing like this.
Olch, a filmmaker and writer who turned his skewed love of prep style and taste for out-of-style fabrics into an upstart tie line back in 2004, opened this potentially permanent pop-up shop this past weekend (actually just minutes after he walked Food Republic through the space). It’s attached to the hot New England-style seafood restaurant Grey Lady, whose owners offered Olch the space for a shop in a storefront next door to the restaurant; the bar behind the secret door is also connected to the restaurant.
One of the co-owners, Callum McLaughlin, will work with Olch to pair a cocktail with his accessories. “Every day there’ll be an Olch product with an accompanying Grey Lady cocktail,” Olch says. He points to a holiday plaid tie, and says that it’ll be paired with a spiked egg nog. A pinstriped tie will get a martini. Olch’s preferred drink, “any kind of whiskey with any kind of ginger ale,” will also be on the menu at some point.
The unusual idea, Olch said, came about when McLaughlin and his brother Gavin, and their other partner, Ryan Chadwick, approached him about taking the space for a holiday pop-up. Besides the neat perk of having a door that leads to a rustic cocktail lounge, it fit nicely with his brand identity. From the start, Olch accessories have always been made in New York with classic heritage in mind, and the boutique itself has the same address as the Bank of United States, whose failure sparked the Great Depression. (The portrait of Olch below shows him in front of an exposed pillar from the original bank, worked into the design with help from Jay Bearden, the decorator behind the original design at perpetual NYC hotspot Freemans.)
Olch’s ties and accessories are now sold in stores around the world, but he’s only previously done one other pop-up, an in-store display at Parisian boutique Colette in 2010, during Men’s Fashion Week. “It was a huge thing for us,” Olch says of the Colette experience. “I can chart the growth of the company pretty much around when that happened. That put us in a global spotlight.”
Now with the first stand-alone Alexander Olch boutique — open from noon til 8 p.m. through the holidays, and at least into March 2013 — Olch stays in the spotlight, albeit closer to home. The shop showcases his obsessively thought out fabrics, his clever touches. An immaculate box housing a selection of matching accessories was manufactured by the same company that makes gun cases for Smith & Wesson. No word on what cocktail he’ll pair the box with, but it speaks to Olch’s mission. “What I’ve tried to do as an accessory designer is to create stories within the objects, so the goal is to create excitement around something other than a jacket or a suit,” he says. “Objects are what we’re interested in.”
Alexander Olch, 77 Delancey St., olch.com