By FRANKIE EDOZIEN
It’s been five years since the designer emporium Cloth debuted in a brownstone on a quiet side street — Fort Greene Place, off Hanson.
Back then, compared to the longstanding boutiques on Fulton Street, Cloth was the upscale newcomer.
But with little fanfare, owner Zoë van de Wiele has built up a clientele and a reputation as the woman to see for stylish duds that won’t break the bank.
“She just nails it for me,” said Gabriela de la Vega, a local jewelry designer with both a high-end collection and a more affordable line of accessories. “You can go in and make a purchase without feeling pain and anguish.” She said Cloth’s offerings work for her since she works at home but often has to meet new clients. “I have a casual lifestyle and her clothes straddle the line between comfortable and casual and still stylish. You still look like you got it going on.”
Another regular customer, Lauren Mason, said she loved the slim but unique pickings. “I prefer to go to her than a department store,” Ms. Mason said. “She really cherry picks through all the designer stuff and picks out the right stuff.”
That small selection includes offerings by American Vintage, a French dress company, New Scotland, Utility Canvass, Cotélac and Stewart Brown. Denim, metallic colored sneakers and jewelry are also on hand.
“Everybody always likes dresses,” said Ms. van de Wiele, 43. “The most expensive dress I have is about $250. Generally I try to keep them under $200 if I can.” Cloth’s clients, Ms. van de Wiele said, are primarily Fort Greene women who juggle work and motherhood.
Sarah Frank, who works in film production, said she keeps returning to Cloth because she hangs on to items she’s gotten there in years past. “I wear belts from three years ago that I love,” she said. “She’s very concerned about what she has. She wouldn’t get anything that she wouldn’t wear.” At the same time, said Ms. Frank, 38, “It’s not stuff you’re going to find on Bleecker Street. You are not going to find somebody else wearing it.”
Before Ms. van de Wiele became a mother and moved to Fort Greene to raise her family, she designed cycling apparel for women, she said. That line, Psoas, was manufactured for a time on Dean Street; it stopped production in 2000, before Cloth was born.
Cloth is located at 138 Fort Greene Place. Longtime residents will remember it as the old location for the restaurant Under the Clock. Years before, it was an Irish pub with a bit of a reputation.
“We found bullets and lots of liquor bottles,” Ms. van de Wiele said. “No money.”
She still has a basement full of sewing machines and hopes to create another line in the future to augment what she carries now. “I might not tell anyone it’s me,” she said. “Just see what happens with it.”
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