It’s rewarding to be able to grow alongside a brand you love and follow its evolution. And as longtime Totokaelo fans, we’ve observed the thoughtful fashion purveyors develop and extend their philosophy far beyond the doors of their original brick-and-mortar store in Seattle—from their first dive into e-commerce in 2008 to the launch of their sister brand Totokaelo Art-Object in 2012, offering handmade art and homewares from independently-minded designers in addition to their selection of avant-garde and contemporary apparel. This past weekend, Totokaelo made a statement of its own: unveiling its second store, on the opposite side of the country: in New York’s Soho neighborhood.
Online or offline, Totokaelo has become a haven for unique, mostly monochromatic pieces that lean toward avant-garde, without the ostentatious attitude. Local gems like No. 6 and Illesteva are mixed with high-end heroes like Henrik Vibskov, Yohji Yamamoto and Rick Owens, plus new favorites like Vetements and the Row in between. While the average price starts at a few hundred bucks, each individual work of fashion or art has been carefully chosen for a purpose; there’s a guarantee that whatever you stumble upon, it’s been immaculately crafted and meant to be worn for years.
Down the street from destinations like the Crosby Street Hotel and Balthazar, the Totokaelo’s dreamy new store takes up an entire building but never feels overwhelming, as the space has been partitioned into intimate mezzanines and sections. The gigantic skylight letting in natural light all the way to the ground floor helps, too. With built-in bookshelves, unique designer chairs, a semi-secret smoking patio, a separate lush outdoor terrace for lounging, and more scattered throughout the building—at one point, you start to forget you’re actually inside a store. It’s more like a dream apartment, complete with impeccable closets, a wall of shoes, and a private changing room drenched in more natural light.
“It was less about trying to differentiate the two spaces, and more about working to best showcase two very different spaces in these two very different cities. Both are flooded with natural light and have clean, white lines and an abundance of wood surfaces,” founder Jill Wenger tells CH. “I designed [and decorated] both spaces to be warm and uplifting, which is the heart of the Totokaelo experience.”
“Our mission and values are unwavering,” continues Wenger, when asked how Totokaelo has evolved since its launch in 2003. “Why we care and who we surround ourselves with is consistent. But it’s a very different company. We have over 70 employees, a bi-coastal organizational structure, and a time clock. All things I’m still getting used to!”
The store opening isn’t the only big news that Totokaelo has. The brand is launching, for the first time, its own ready-to-wear line for women, set to arrive in stores 20 September. Expect to see luxe basics like overalls to pair with your more statement pieces.
Totokaelo’s New York location in now open at 54 Crosby Street. Visit their website for store hours or to check out the online shopping experience.
Images by Nara Shin