There’s certainly no shortage of women’s clothing boutiques in Manhattan’s Lower East Side, but Vera Ng’s We the People (156 Stanton, at Suffolk) is unique because its reason for being isn’t simply to sell clothes. “Ng created We the People as a safe haven for emerging designers. Much more than a boutique, the space acts as a consultancy, communal clubhouse, and showroom, all in one.” To that end, We the People has been an important launching pad for new and mostly local designers, as well as a point of knowledge transfer among designers about where to find the best zippers, which new sewing room has just opened, etc. Such information is exchanged over dinners hosted by Vera. How cool is that?
I was introduced to Vera and her lovely store yesterday afternoon while killing time waiting for a table at Clinton Street Bakery with my good friend Thuy Linh (whose forthcoming book is, in part, about the social and political economic histories that led to the opening of Asian-run boutiques like Vera’s). While I waited for Thuy Linh to try on an EKG tank top by LauraLou (on sale for $26.60), Vera and I talked about how business has been since they opened in May and also about the Made in Midtown project which, it seems to me, the community-based mission of We the People is so closely aligned. While Vera admits business has been a little slow, We the People has already gotten wonderful press in a number of blogs including New York Magazine’s The Cut, Daily Candy, and Racked so she has reason to be optimistic. (Unlike these other sites, Threadbared is not in the habit of profiling stores but Vera’s mission is so wonderful that I had to do a small post about it.)
By the way, if you dash into We the People while waiting for your table at Clinton Street Bakery or any other nearby restaurant, watch your time. The 30 minute wait went by way too fast while we were chatting with Vera and pawing at the amazing clothes on stock and so we lost our table. Blast.