The buzz about Project No. 8 among the hardcore fashion detectives was already on the way when we made the trek to New York’s Chinatown to view Kostas Murkudis‘
s/s ’08 collection. The Murkudis staff (who flew in from Berlin) gave
us a run through of the mens- and womenswear collections of impeccably
executed suits, sheer confections, killer outerwear, and some out-there
showpieces produced with love and whimsy. It was personal, intimate,
and thankfully took us away from the fracas of the tents. Founded by
Brian Janusiak and Elizabeth Beer and stocking a world of designers
including Boudicca, Natalia Brilli, Devandervar,
Hoyt and Bond, and A Détacher, Project No. 8 carries everything from
clothes and accessories to art, stationery, and a bike. We focused our
discussion with Janusiak & Beer on the practical and artistic
platform of the store.
What precipitated your interest in the treacherous retail terrain of New York City?
Brian Janusiak: The great thing about having a retail
space is that it is an instant public platform. One of the main
ideas/impetuses for the store was to offer a home to projects
considered digressions by the makers. We like that the store — and all
stores, maybe — creates a fluctuating community.
Project No. 8 is in the far reaches of Chinatown in lower Manhattan. Tell us about the very brave strategy to locate there?
BJ: We fell in love with this block, and imagined that
if we ever opened a store, this would be the spot. The fact that it
makes little sense as a retail location was a plus for us. It also felt
like we could spend a little time concentrating on our offerings
instead of just concentrating on our rent. Off the beaten track is a
nice place to be while you figure out what it is you want to say.
What are the features that set your store apart from other edgy purveyors in the city?
BJ: Our selections and choices are very personal. We are
naturally attracted to things that are not available in lots of other
places in the city, or anywhere. We travel quite a bit, so we meet
people and see things that surprise us, and if we like them we try to
find out how to bring them here. On top of all that, we really like the
people we work with, and somehow we think that shows as well. In
addition to all this, we spent a lot of time and thought on the space
itself. It’s a strange combination of what we’d like to see and what we
liked that we’ve seen. For us it is constantly and forever about the
JCR: Viewing Kostas Murkudis’ collection in the store
was one of the week’s highlights — what are your plans to expose these
kinds of brands in your store?
BJ: We feel very supported by the brands as well.
Working with Kostas is a pleasure. We designed the space to be
flexible, so if we want to clear it out, as we did during fashion week,
and give it over to a single designer or artist, we can do it fairly
easily. It’s great for us to mix it up.
There’s an art/fashion mix to the store’s identity — tell us about that marriage.
BJ: It reflects our own training and interests. We have
both spent much of our pasts as makers in art, design, and fashion, and
in some basic way, it is the only way we can see things around us, with
everything mashed together at once like some long run-on sentence.
Why should someone who comes to NYC visit your Project No. 8?
BJ: Hopefully for fun. To see some good new things that
they might not have collided with yet. To have a lovely conversation
and a pleasant or inspiring experience all in one storefront. Or maybe
just as an entertaining stop-off before they get some super-delicious
meatballs at Good World around the corner, or some satisfying dim sum
at any number of places nearby.
What sorts of people make the pilgrimage to discover your store?
BJ: They are smart, but seem to live for ideas rather
than fashion. When the two can come together, they seem to understand
and appreciate it. We also seem to have a lot of great people who live
nearby, and who come by regularly to say hello, check in, bring
friends, etc. There have also been many visitors from other parts of
the city who have read about us or heard about us by word of mouth.
There are the occasional art and film stars, but in New York that is
never really much of a surprise.
Any plans to franchise?
BJ: Not exactly, but we are working on another space in
Brooklyn. It will have some of the same sensibilities and our same take
on things, but offer different things. It’s more like an
anti-franchise, in that it will likely be twice as much work.
This interview was conducted by Jason Campbell.