Patricia Field broke the hearts of both New York’s trendiest and legions of “Sex and the City”-obsessed tourists when she announced in December that her eponymous boutique in New York’s Lower East Side would shutter. Having owned and operated a series of retail stores for the past 50 years (the most recent of which, located at 306 Bowery, opened in 2012), the costume designer and fashion curator, 74, said the business was now demanding too much of her time.
“My store environment required me more than ever and I was finding myself unable to continue developing my career,” said Field, who designed the costumes for “Sex and the City,” in a conversation with Glossy. “So I made the decision to sell it.”
The boutique’s e-commerce store was initially going to shut down as well, as Field moved on from retail. However, it was her relationship with Scooter LaForge, an artist-turned-fashion designer, that convinced her to keep it going. Earlier this year, PatriciaField.com transitioned away from an online boutique to a fashion-meets-art hub, where LaForge and seven other artists feature and sell their original work, which can run between $100 for a T-shirt and $1,300 for a jacket. Customers can also work with one of the artists to create a custom-made garment or piece of jewelry through the site. Field also has kept her limited “Sex and the City” collection on sale.
LaForge paints directly onto clothing, creating one-of-a-kind fashion from stitched-together fabrics found at thrift stores and sometimes in the trash, and resurrecting items like worn leather jackets by drawing cartoonish designs, like a green witch with red-sequined lips and a face with bloodshot eyes, onto them.
“It’s anti-fashion,” said LaForge. “I was never taught how to sew, or design clothes. I hand sew, I bought a cheap sewing machine at Kmart for $99. I take something really pretty and make it ugly, or take something that’s ugly and make it pretty.”
LaForge began bringing his pieces to sell in Field’s store in 2014, where his handmade work caught her attention.
“I started to deal directly with Scooter in my store, and I watched and monitored the reaction to his work,” said Field. “He started bringing more pieces in, and we eventually built a beautiful display, which brought his name and recognition to my clients. It’s been a success story, both on the business side and on the personal side.”
Her relationship with LaForge led to Field’s decision to overhaul her site with a sharper focus.
“Through the success of Scooter in my shop, that gave me the idea to start another enterprise,” she said. “I held onto my e-commerce spot and converted it into an art-fashion website.”
Field believes that, for artists like LaForge and other small brands, the web holds the keys to global audience, and is a “huge development” for business.
“But when you go into a shop, it’s an atmosphere, it’s a lifestyle, it’s an experience,” she said. “It tells a story. You lose that on the internet. You lose the experience, because it’s just not possible.”
For Field and LaForge, they’re creating a different kind of experience for customers who don’t want to shop the same selection as the masses.
“It started to get so boring for us, walking into department stores,” said LaForge. “You see the catalog, you see the runway, you can say I want this, I want that. And then everyone else can get it, too. Here you just get more feeling, more soul, one of a kind things.”