A piece of Capitol Hill will soon have an outpost in New York City. Hometown designer Jon Wye will be opening his first bricks-and-mortar shop in Chelsea this spring. To him it is a scary prospect, but for anyone who has seen the amazing storytelling in his mural belts, t-shirts and other accessories — or if you’ve met the creative force that is Jon Wye at Eastern Market or any of the other flea markets and shows he and Jeff Ball do around the city — you know we’re witnessing the genesis of a new success for this young company.
The shop will be on the top floor of the new Limelight Marketplace at 47 W. 20th Street. Formerly a church, then a club, the developer is renovating the interior to house retail shops on two floors that will line the walls of the original structure, plus a third floor balcony, which is where Wye’s 250 sq. ft. domain will be. “My shop looks like it holds court over the whole thing. Its a visually appealing location.”
He already has a clear vision for what the new place will look like, based on a stall he had built and furnished for the Bryant Park Christmas Village this past December in New York City. For that space, he says, they “built a living room in a 10 x 20 foot space with custom cabinetry for t-shirts and belts, a custom wing back chair and wood floors with a bar as the register area.” He plans to replicate that theme with modifications that will highlight the benefits of his new permanent space, which will include the former church’s rose glass window. The contract for the space was finalized a week ago, so it should be ready mid- to late March.
Despite the amazing opportunity he has with the new space, Wye says New York City was not his first choice. “Its almost disappointing I got New York City first because I wanted my first shop to be in DC. But in New York City we find there are a lot of areas hurting and looking for tenants.” Plus the space’s developers presented an inventive pitch: “They have a vision, recognizing that retail is hurting right now and if you want to continue physical retail, you have to come up with new models.” This willingness to work with potential retailers helped Wye with his decision to pull the trigger.
Wye is still keeping an eye out for space in DC. He currently works from a two car garage, but already knows just what he would like to do next. “I would love – this is a call to anyone with a retail space – to put in a workshop in DC. Let people know this is made here and lives here. I’d like a first floor storefront that includes a workshop with a similar living room setup and display. That’s the dream for staying in DC.”
Until then, Wye’s designs are available online, but make sure to visit his newest incarnation on your next trip to the fashion capital.