Photo Courtesy Pele Cortizo-Burgess
Interview

AL ABAYAN

01.30.12

Al Abayan is the founder and curator of Patron of the New, a Tribeca boutique dedicated to emerging designers in menswear, womenswear, and home. Coming up on its one-year anniversary, the store also features unique pieces from well-known designers.

Interview

How did you decide on the designers you are currently stocking, amongst the sea of emerging talent?

At Patron of the New, we work with close to 80 brands, companies, artists, and designers covering men’s, women, children, interior, objects and antiques. We have a specific focus on 15 clothing designers for men and women. The decision of what to stock is driven in large part by my own personal taste, but I also have a family of friends within the industry who keep each others eyes open so that we can anticipate and see what’s emerging, what’s different, fresh and exciting.

Are you the exclusive US vendor for any of the lines you carry?

No. It’s important to point out though that I didn’t want to be exclusive in the “only available at…” sense.  Instead I wanted to be considered as key in elevating a collection’s presence within the US. I know what designers go through in creating a collection and I see Patron of the New as playing a very important role in showcasing their efforts. I’m more than happy to be part of the select few to represent certain brands within the United States.  I’ll save exclusive for when I create something special with our vendors that should be exclusive.

How often do you plan to add new designers?

Whenever something speaks to me – there’s so many exciting things happening out there in the world.

What are some of your favorite items in the store right now?

Etablissment Parisian hand carved shoes, Rocio candy colored wood clutches (they’re all sold out) and the Lumen et Umbra spring collection for men.

What does Patron of the New mean to you?

Eyes open!  Look!  Listen!  Feel.

I’ve had 20 years of experience within the industry and so I’ve seen a lot of things.  I wanted Patron Of The New to be a part of the efforts that would celebrate established brands as well providing a place for people to discover new things.  I also wanted to showcase pieces, artists and brands that I thought were under-represented.

Why did you choose Tribeca as a retail location, rather than, say the Meatpacking District, Soho or the Village?

I like creating a destination and this is one free from the mass, the ordinary and the congestion, plus TriBeCa is my home.

Since opening on Franklin Street have you found it challenging to bring shoppers in?

Only when Dominique Strauss-Kahn was my neighbor but otherwise, I love a challenge.

How have most people discovered the store?

As I mentioned, I’ve been in the industry for a long time and during that time, I’ve built a wonderful international following.  But I’ve also had amazing support from the likes of The New York Times, key lifestyle and fashion bloggers, the fashion industry itself and of course, my fellow Tribecans.

Do you plan to add an ecommerce component?

Yes, in the very near future.  We’re looking to build a more elaborate site than what we have currently. I want you to have an experience similar to what we have curated for you in the boutique.

You clearly have a knack for designing, looking at the design detail of the store. Is this something you would pursue? Perhaps launch your own label at some point?

Thank you.  I love design. I feel when the time is right, there will be a brand for Patron of the New.

What are your plans for this coming fashion week? Dinner parties at the store?

I’m planning to keep my eyes open and yes, maybe a dinner party. The store was designed to hold a variety of events from dinner parties through to exhibitions and screenings.

Which shows are you most looking forward to?

I’m off to Paris this week for the mens shows so I’m really excited about supporting the first show from No Editions and viewing the first Valentino mens collections under the new design team. Also seeing many newcomers presentations, as well as the couture show of Gustavo Lins.  In New York, I’d say Siki IM, Giulietta, Brood and the presentation of The Elder Statesman.  I want to see more exciting things from New York, so my eyes are open!