Brooklyn’s Fashion Influencers: 50 Stylish People You Need to Know


Photo by Stephen Wilson
Photo by Stephen Wilson

Ann Yee
Designer
Yee has had quite an illustrious career since she first moved to New York. She worked with brands like Elizabeth and James, Alice + Olivia, DUFFY, and Barney’s New York. But Yee has consistently impressed us since she went out on her own in 2010 and launched her own line of pieces that are both perfect for layering and stunning to wear on their own. The word “architectural” gets thrown around a lot when describing clothes (even, sometimes, by us!), but it is an apt description for Yee’s beautifully constructed clothes, which fall about the body with enviable precision.

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Suzanne Rae Pelaez
Suzanne Rae
Pelaez makes some of the most uncomplicated, unfussy clothes that we’ve ever seen. But lest you think they’re at all simplistic, it is incredibly clear from the way they fit on the body that each piece is crafted with the utmost care. Pelaez says her line is “feminine and feminist” in philosophy, and while that might sound vague, we think its meaning is pretty clear: these are clothes that give the wearer the freedom to feel and do and be anything she wants. And, you know, look good while doing it.

Shabd Simon Alexander
Shabd Simon-Alexander
Shabd
Known for her gorgeous handmade tie-dye pieces, Simon-Alexander also has an excellent book out about the history of tie-dye (Tie-Dye: Dye It. Wear It. Share It.), as well as several do-it-yourself kits for you to try your hand at. Plus, as well as being a professor of textiles at Pratt, Simon-Alexander also had the honor of being the first person to teach Martha Stewart how to tie-dye. If that’s not influence, we don’t know what is.

Photo by Austin McAllister
Photo by Austin McAllister

Lexi Oliveri
Antoinette Vintage
This south Williamsburg vintage gem is one of our favorite spots to pop in, chat with lovely owner Lexi (while totally scouting what she’s wearing because it’s always spot-on), and look through her treasure trove of vintage pieces. Oliveri has an uncanny eye for spotting the best in both vintage and newer lines, demonstrated by the fact that she’s recently started carrying the decidedly non-vintage, gorgeous work of Celina Paiz (La Selva) and whimsical ruffled tops from Viva Aviva.

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Khalilah Beavers
Stylist/boutique owner
Bed-Stuy dweller Beavers owns and operates the vintage boutique Shirley + Alice as well as styling people like Carmelo Anthony and Brandon Bass. We highly recommend visiting her shop, which has one of the finest assortments of vintage clothes that we’ve happened upon in a while.

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Erica Lavelanet
Stylist and fashion blogger
Lavelanet’s works as a wardrobe stylist and also manages her own personal fashion blog. Her style is fun and approachable, with plenty of nods to high fashion. In short, she’s got exactly the kind of style that seems manageable to emulate—meaning lots of people do.

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Camilla Vivian Mayer and Karina De Jesus
Co-founders of Open Haus Collective
Mayer and De Jesus met in Bushwick and parlayed their shared love of fashion and design into the blog and agency, Open Haus. Their style is sporty with clean lines and minimal color (think that athletic wear trend that is everywhere) and their looks on Instagram are actually things that you can imagine wearing. Because, really, who doesn’t want to wear a sports bra as a shirt five days out of seven? Nobody we know.

Photo by Kenneth Bachor
Photo by Kenneth Bachor

Lisa Dengler
Fashion blogger
Dengler runs the site Just Another Fashion Blog, which, really, is anything but. Sure, a lot of her street style and lifestyle shots are familiar (yeah, there’s even latte art) but the truth is, Dengler portrays urban dressing circa now better than just about anyone else we can think of. We spoke to her this summer about what she thought would be the big trend for fall, and her answer was oversized coats. Guess what? They’re everywhere. We’re not surprised.

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Apneet Kaur
Writer/photographer
Kaur is a writer and fashion blogger whose personal blog, Who Is Apneet?, is a pretty delightful mix of fashion and lifestyle writing. But what we like most is Kaur’s writing for Refinery29, where she’s been contributing since 2013. She’s well-versed in everything from where to get the best hats to how to “holiday shop like a pro” and she’s willing to share all her hard-won info. We like that in a fashion writer, we really do.

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Ilana Kohn
Clothing & textile designer
Kohn launched her eponymous line in 2010, and it’s now carried in such local beloved stores as In God We Trust. We adore her billowy dresses and separates, that stand out due to the lush colors and lively prints. Kohn’s background is actually in illustration, and we think her artist’s eye for balance is a big reason for why her clothes always look so effortless and just right.

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Hideya Sagawa
Front General Store
Sagawa started off selling vintage menswear, including lots of military wear, at the Brooklyn Flea, and his keen eye for design and what just looks right were behind the thirteen years he spent as the window dresser for What Goes Around Comes Around. While Sagawa’s new shop, Front General Store, doesn’t just sell clothes, we think that the smartly curated selection of vintage pieces pretty much perfectly embody how most men we know want to be dressing right now.

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Rebecca Wolsten
Liam of York
We spoke to Wolsten, who is behind Liam of York—easily one of our favorite local clothing lines—about what it’s like to be a designer in Brooklyn.
Where do you find the inspiration for your designs?
Inspiration is everywhere, its the people in my life, the Brooklyn lifestyle, travel, and art to name a few. I love going to museums and looking at ancient objects in addition to galleries in Brooklyn where there is amazing contemporary art being shown. I love making clothing for women to wear in their real lives not just on special occasions.
What do you like the most about being a maker in Brooklyn?
Brooklyn has such a diverse community of creatives and that is inspiring to me. I love being around people who are inspired and passionate about things that are different than what I am passionate about. Brooklyn is a special place, there are so many people with so many different interests here and a high concentration of creative types, so much variety.
What is your personal favorite item of clothing in your closet?
My favorite item of clothing in my wardrobe is my Vena Cava top from their Egyptian inspired collection a few years ago. I love it because it is sexy without showing a lot of skin. I think sexiness is more about attitude and confidence than displaying everything you have.
What are some of the challenges in your line of work?
There are many challenges in making a fashion collection, for me a big challenge has been sourcing printed fabrics that will be available six months from now when I am ready to order for production. I have found amazing fabrics at the local NYC stores but knowing I can’t reorder if the store runs out means I can’t put it in my collection.
Where do you see yourself in five years?
In five years I see myself still spreading the gospel of #3printrule, creative expression through fashion, slow fashion, and dressing strong, creative, fabulous women.

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Angela Silva
Joinery
Silva has an unerring eye for beautiful objects and her store, which carries everything from jewelry to home goods to shoes to clothes, is proof positive of that. How good is her eye? Well, she stocks many of the Brooklyn-designed brands that we featured on this list. So, you know, very good.

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Haley Loewenthal
Stylist
Responsible for the styling in some of our favorite ad campaigns and fashion shoots (including, ahem, the last two cover stories in Brooklyn Magazine), Loewenthal is one of the best in the business at editing down a huge selection of designer clothes into the perfect looks that get across the feeling of the editorial or advertisement in an instant.

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Annie Kreighbaum
Into the Gloss
Google “Annie Kreighbaum” and the first suggested autofill is “Annie Kreighbaum eyebrows.” Once you see a photo of the thick-browed Kreighbaum (she makes Cara Delevingne jealous), you understand why instantly. After first coming onto the beauty scene with her work at xoVain, sister site to xoJane, Kreighbaum made the leap to the infinitely cooler Into the Gloss, where she covers all topics related to beauty and makeup. In the same way that many of the other men and women on this list dress in ways which we want to emulate, Kreighbaum’s beauty choices are similarly innovative and fresh, and no less intriguing for being a different kind of adornment than a purely sartorial one. Of course, she’s also got a pretty killer sense of style, as evidenced in her Instagram, and, you know, just seeing her around Brooklyn.

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Tommy Cole and Roy Caires
Alter
Alter opened in Greenpoint in early 2007 to an enthusiastic reception. How enthusiastic? Well, within four years, two more stores had opened, and in the fall of 2012, Alter launched a house label. What’s the secret to such success? We credit Cole and Caires with understanding that what most shoppers want is affordable, classic clothes with just enough of twist to make them different.

Frank Muytens
Frank Muytjens
Head of Menswear at J. Crew
Williamsburg-resident Muytjens is the head of the J. Crew menswear, meaning he is pretty directly responsible for the ubiquitous gingham “boyfriend” shirt that was seen basically everywhere this summer. But, of course, Muytjens is also responsible for the general look of J. Crew menswear, which tends toward the classic and understated with the perfect, unexpected, irreverent element.

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Alexander Campaz
Designer
Cooper Union grad and Bed-Stuy resident Campaz has had his own line of casual menswear for a few years now. The clothes tend to fall into the athletic-wear category that everyone is so obsessed with now (or, on their way to being anyway), but Campaz has been experimenting with that type of clothes for seasons now. Think well-cut sweatshirts with primary colored geometric shapes and shawl-like cardigans in soft gray fleece. Campaz also keeps sustainability in mind, using recycled materials, dead stock, and organic fabrics.

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Hicham Benmira and Brian Cousins
Hollander & Lexer
Benmira and Cousins (who also founded the now-closed and much-missed home design store Darr) created something of a sartorial oasis on Atlantic Avenue when they opened Hollander & Lexer in 2006. The store is he kind of place that not only invites you in, but invites you to stay and enjoy both the well-designed store, but also the thoughtfully selected mens clothes, from labels like Steven Alan as well as their own house brand. Benmira and Cousins have created a place that defines a certain Brooklyn contemporary style sensibility, while also comfortably referencing the past with pieces like perfectly cut waistcoats and slim-cut shirts.

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Ouigi Theodore
The Brooklyn Circus
Theodore is the force behind The Brooklyn Circus, a menswear brand that exemplifies a certain Brooklyn man’s look. You know the man we’re talking about, the one who has an affinity for vintage and tailored clothes, but doesn’t want to appear too formal or stuffy. It’s the kind of man who’s probably a lot like Theodore himself, in that he can pull off a neckerchief, slim cut vest, and high-top sneakers all at once. It’s a lot of look, but Theodore makes it look so effortless that you kind of have to believe that you could too.

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John Marsala and Becka Citron
Modern Anthology
Despite opening this feature by decrying the use of the term “Brooklyn look,” we must admit that one theme has popped up consistently among this list of fashion influencers: the balance of unfussy yet thoughtful clothes, that elusive place between high and low. One of the most recent local exemplars of that ideal is the store Modern Anthology. Founded by JOhn Marsala and Becka Citron, Modern Anthology strikes the perfect retail tone, and is the kind of store where you can’t help but linger, because there’s always something new and interesting that you want to check out, whether it’s the Kai D. shirts or Forage ties, there’s always something new to discover… and buy.

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Alexis Bittar
Alexis Bittar Jewelry
Bittar has been on the jewelry scene for some time now, and has been influencing it for just as long. His jewelry ranges from fanciful high-end baubles to more accessible (both in terms of price and practicality) pieces that just beg to be worn again and again.

Photo by William Chan for RackedNY
Photo by William Chan for RackedNY

Alexis Isadora
Brooklyn Fox
Alexis Isadora, owner of Brooklyn Fox and Brooklyn Fox Lingerie in Williamsburg, started her mini-empire in 2007 with her lingerie shop on N 5th. In 2012, Isadora saw the opportunity to open another location and jumped at the chance. The second location, just a few blocks away on Bedford Avenue, carries an array of ready-to-wear items from shoes to formal wear to T-shirts by high-end designers from near and far including Cynthia Rowley, Zimmerman, J Brand, Mara Hoffman, Cushnie et Oches, Nadia Tar and so many more. Isadora still personally does all the buying for both stores and takes pride in curating specifically for the neighborhood she knows and loves.
How have you seen the Brooklyn fashion scene change in the last few years?
Well, after living in Williamsburg for several years, I decided to open the lingerie store. At the time, it was pretty much just all artists and people who appreciated art living in warehouses and doing their own thing, especially in regards to fashion. As for the change in the neighborhood, it has certainly affected how we buy. It has elevated the price point we’re able to support, which of course makes buying a little bit more fun for me. Not only are people coming in with a bigger budget, they’re coming in knowing what they’re looking for more than before. Customers now seem to have a more extensive knowledge of designers and trends. The only constant is change and that’s especially true for New York. I try to make the best out of it and just go with the flow.

What do you like the most about being involved in the Brooklyn fashion community?
I like being a store that services a community. Between the clothing store and the lingerie store, I feel like we are able to provide pretty much everything the women in the area need. When I opened the lingerie store, beyond just giving the women in the neighborhood a place to shop so they wouldn’t have to go to Manhattan every time they needed stockings, I saw lingerie—with its intricacy and attention to detail that allows people to express themselves in this unique personal way—as its own form of art that I could bring to the community. I hoped that in some way, even though I wasn’t making paintings or sculptures, that the store managed to contribute to a burgeoning artistic atmosphere. I know for a fact it has contributed to the conception of some artist’s babies and that’s a great feeling!

What is your personal favorite item of clothing in your closet?
Hmmm, I’d probably say right now at this moment I have a lot of love for Smythe, which is this Canadian company that specializes in outerwear. I have this cape and a few jackets by them and maybe since it’s getting crisp out and because I’ve been getting to wear them more they’re coming to mind. The cape is especially awesome, it’s this black wool mohair asymmetrical length, zip funnel neck, it’s so cool. I feel like a million dollars when i’m walking around in that. I can—and have been—wearing sweat pants and sneakers with it and I still feel like Jackie O. It’s crazy

Where do you see yourself in five years?
Well, if you would have asked me that five years ago, I could have never told you I’d be here, and it’s kind of the same thing now. I mean, I can say for sure, If things keep going how they have been and the neighborhood keeps growing, I don’t anticipate having any free time. I have thought about opening another lingerie store, so that’s always a possibility. I’ve been looking for spaces for years, but I’m not in a rush. I’m waiting until something really makes sense. If I opened another place I would want it to have the same strong sense of community. Since I lived in Williamsburg for so long, I felt comfortable doing that here, but to open elsewhere, that’s why it would be a challenge for me. I don’t want to open somewhere where I don’t feel connected and know who i’m buying for.

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