(Mos Def serenades Eunice)
Unis is officially 10 years old. Named after the designer Eunice Lee, the menswear line has managed to survive a hectic decade while seeing her competitors close shop on the once mellow and intimate Elizabeth Street. Designers such as Mayle and restaurants like Rialto fell off while Ralph Lauren moved into the hood. Running the business out of her original storefront, on the corner of Prince and Elizabeth Street, Eunice still enjoys the gentrified Nolita with old-school gems such as French bistro Gitane, and the original Italian Butcher Shop straight out of a Scorsese film. Let’s not forget the trusty diner across the street, Cafe Habana, which makes this an overall fun summer stroll with outside benches and good love of the block.
Last Saturday, Unis threw a bash to celebrate the big anniversary. It was held at Dominion, the basement underneath Indochine. Surprise guests (and loyal UNIS fan) Mos Def jumped on stage and sang Eunice the crooner classic “The Way You Look Tonight”. Mos swung through after his theater night performing “A Free Man of Color” in Lincoln Center. Spankrock jumped a train from Philadelphia to come “high-five” the lady and jumped into the DJ booth to spit out a few rhymes.
On the turntables were Jauretsi and Justin Miller of DFA Records. The crowd? A veritable “who’s who” in menswear today, and we suspect, a bevy of the best in men’s bloggers from the looks of the flashbulbs going off in the room. As you can tell by the photos, asses were shaking all night. There was also a cover band that brought everyone back to the 1980’s with riveting covers like Bon Jovi’s “Living on a Prayer”. Expect to see more coverage about this night in the blogosphere. Here’s a few more words from the lady herself…
(Surface to Air’s Gordon Hull)
Hello. First off, congrats for making it 10 years in the fashion business. How are you celebrating this landmark ocassion?
I celebrated our 10 year anniversary with a big party. I’ve always wanted to hire this cover band, Full House Music, for an event…and thought the anniversary bash was the perfect event. They were a hit…the crowd was freaking out.
(DFA’s Justin Miller with friend)
Do you find it a plus or minus that you are a girl in a mostly “boys” club in terms of designing Menswear? How did it feel to be recognized as GQ’s Top 6 Menswear Designers [amongst Richard Chai, Billy Reid, J Crew’s Muytjens, Caulfield PrepataryVincent Flumiani, Ben & Doug Burkman]?
I think being the only gal doing menswear is GREAT! I get a lot of love from the boys. They love me because they know I’m a real gal who really appreciates menswear as much as they do.
The GQ nomination was a pretty big deal. It’s been a whirlwind year. I can get press shy…but the nomination gave the brand a level of recognition that it’s never received before.
(Alec Friedman of Dossier and Morgan Colette of Saturdays)
You have a prime piece of real estate on the corner of Elizabeth St and Prince St. Any insights on the vast changes of Nolita and the community?
Nolita is definitely not the same neighborhood. I sort of miss the old neighborhood…all the flavors and characters. At the same time, change is inevitable, and you have to go with the flow…..and welcome it all.
(Opening Ceremony’s Humberto Leon and UNIS’ Eunice Lee)
What are your thoughts on creating clothes locally versus overseas?
It’s very very difficult to produce in the USA. No joke. The government doesn’t give companies like mine any incentives to keep my production here. So most companies,like Unis, make a choice. I think it’s important to keep some level of manufacturing here in the USA…but when you can go and get a coat for 150 bucks…it’s sort of depressing. Then I wonder if consumers actually question…WHY it’s only $150. Hmmmm…. Could be because someone was paid $5 of labor to sew it.
Do you have any advice for young designers beginning to launch clothing lines in this environment? Secrets to longevity?
I say…. Don’t be stubborn. It’s both about taste and creativity…..but most importantly it’s a BUSINESS. If you don’t know anything about running a business…do yourself a favor and find someone who does. PERIOD.
(Karina V Ors and Greg Frehling)
(Standard Hotel’s Adam Patrizia & Friend)
(Supreme’s Brendon Bebenzien and friend)
(Esquire’s Joshua Peskowitz)