IF (only)

image above by Robert Chin for NYmag, the rest by me

Soho is a mass-market-shopping hellmouth— a roiling democratic cauldron of crassness, excess, fakery, and assembly-line tediousness. It is a minor wonder then, that a store like IF Soho (92 Grand Street) is still around after 30 or so years, with no web presence and no advertising. It is indifferent, select, expensive, impractical— and one of my favorite clothing stores. (The staff are actually very polite if you engage them. Phillip, the manager, a man of a certain age and always just so, is practically expansive.)

IF appears to cater to the elusive and storied "avant garde artist", the former-Soho set c.1988 who may still inhabit parts of the neighborhood but who are all but invisible now. (I picture them skulking on side streets dressed in their black thousand-dollar raw-linen jackets and asymmetric harem pants, trying to side-step all the hoi polloi)

There's a clarity of aesthetic here: everything is tufted, frayed, hand-woven, heavy, real and beautifully crafted. The color palette ranges from coal to dust with an accent of brick. Clothes can seem as though they've been pulled from a particularly dark staging of Bleak House; the shoes have the appearance of medieval cobblery. Those are good things in my book. (One pair of simple pumps that dazzled me (last image, above) had a soft, worn, iridescent scaly nap like a discarded fish.)
All the requisite big-ticket names are here: Dries van noten, Martin Margiela, Yohji Yamamoto, Ann Demeulemeester, Prada, Commes Des Garcons, as well as an extensive selection of the unknown (to me) Ivan Grundahl, a Danish designer of moody complicated garments, and several more brands I'm forgetting.

I visit periodically but I have purchased only one thing in the store to date. But there's still hope—the basement sale is in August.

1 comment:

Aga Winnicka said...



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