By  on October 24, 2011

Since leaving Generra five years ago, Tony Melillo has been busy in the mass market end of the business as co-founder of Cynosure Holdings, a branding and licensing company that produces Selena Gomez’s Dream Out Loud line for Kmart.

But Melillo “wanted to do something more personal.”

So for spring, he’s making his passion public with ATM, a line of men’s and women’s high-fashion T-shirts.

“Because they’re only T-shirts, they have to be extra-special,” Melillo said during an interview at his Meatpacking District studio. “I want people to experience it as a full brand through the labeling, the presentation and the experience.”

ATM — named for the designer’s initials: Anthony Thomas Melillo — is merchandised inside a black box with the brand name on the outside. Customers walk around the walls and enter the cube where the T-shirts hang on black rods.

“It’s like a concept brand,” he said, “not just T-shirts on a shelf. You really feel like you’re buying something special.” Barneys New York will debut the line in February on its revamped Co-op floor — complete with the black box.

The shirts are manufactured in Peru from fabrics that took nine months to develop. There are three fabric choices: vintage jersey, slub and Modal, all exclusive to ATM. The women’s offering includes four styles: tank, short- or long-sleeve with a sweetheart neck, and a V-neck short-sleeve. The women’s silhouette includes pleating on the shoulder and a curved bottom, slightly longer in the back.

The men’s choices include crewnecks, tanks, pocket tees, V-necks and a destroyed-wash model in long- and short-sleeve.

For both genders, there will be four core colors as well as two fashion colors per delivery; Melillo is planning 10 deliveries a year. Retail prices range from $58 to $78.

“My idea is that it shouldn’t be fitted, but should make your body look great.” As a result, the loose weave of the shirts allows for a drapy feeling that flatters the figure.

So why T-shirts? “That’s what I wear every day,” Melillo said. “A dress shirt is a hard thing for me to get into.”

Melillo said in the future, he may expand into related categories such as sweatpants or jackets, “but not tomorrow. It’s a one-item company for now.”

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