Every other Thursday, The FADER asks employees and employers at our favorite shops around the world what their most cherished in-store item is for our column Staff Affections. This week, Liz Raiss caught up with one her favorite stores, the East Village staple Duo, to talk vintage denim, back to school suiting, and friendship.
What were Duo's origins? How did you decide on the East Village location and to focus on both vintage and new clothing? We opened almost six years ago, at the time my sister LaRae and I had been living in New York for about three years, so we jumped into it pretty quickly. We're both from Minnesota but the East Village is our neighborhood and we feel like the vibe aligns so well with our personalities. Laid back, fashion-y but not diva, comfortable, wearable. We just wanted to have a store that people who share our passion for mixing new stuff with vintage would feel comfortable coming into. We really stick with what we love: wearable fabrics and '90s styles. We love stocking natural fibers: linens, wools, cashmere, denims, silk.
Your denim selection is always amazing! What is your process for sourcing vintage denim? It’s really hard! There’s a ton of competition in New York, it’s a very hush-hush business. We have someone back in the Midwest who sources us great old Levi’s and old broken-in workshirts. We have a dealer there who really gets our style: slightly masculine, oversized basics. We definitely grew up with that since we're farm girls in the Midwest. We love tough pieces that you can have for years and years, ones that just get better with time. Midwest is best, for us.
So tell us how you hooked up with Dusen Dusen? Do you know Ellen van Dusen personally? Ellen is one of our favorites, one of our Duo homegirls. She actually approached us when she first started sewing. She was a customer of ours early on, and we talked to her and thought, 'Wow, this girl is very similar to us', super approachable. So that first season, our first spring, she was sewing pieces for the shop and they were selling like candy, people couldn’t get enough of them! She started getting her own production and designing all of her own textiles. She has such a special line and she’s such a special person to us, we’ve really grown together. And she’s worldwide now! We’re like proud moms. Her line is so fun.
Can you talk a little bit about her alphabet pieces? I love them! It reminds me of Campbell’s Soup. It totally flashes me back to childhood and it's really the perfect timing because she just launched in time for fall. We've got so many girls coming in, whether they're students or not and it's perfect for back to school. She uses the nicest, softest denim, and the great thing about denim is the more you wear it, the better it gets. I love the print, it's super fun but the black and grey plays really subtly. There's some hidden messages in there!