NEW YORK — International Playground, the peripatetic global brand collective, is settling down.
This story first appeared in the May 25, 2010 issue of WWD. Subscribe Today.
After a year of unveiling pop-up shops and temporary showrooms across Europe, the company has opened a permanent space at 13 Stanton Street on the Lower East Side here, where a piece of fluorescent-light art reads, “International Playground is a showroom and a party!”
The brand represents up-and-coming designers, growing their businesses at wholesale through its showroom while building their fan bases in the store.
“We did a six-day sweep of Europe, including London, Copenhagen and Paris,” said Virginia Craddock who owns IP with Johnny Pizzolato. “We followed that up in New York with a pop-up store at 196 Orchard Street in December.”
The Orchard Street venue had a bar, and Pizzolato, the lead singer for The Johns, encouraged other bands to stop in for practice sets. “The pop-up was such a success, we felt we had to move forward with a permanent space,” Craddock said.
Pizzolato and Craddock signed the designers they wanted to represent for the season and had a lease out on the Stanton Street space when they applied for a small business loan. However, the loan fell through and they scrambled to find a solution.
“We decided we’d pre-sell gift certificates to the store,” Craddock said, adding that about 60 friends and relatives participated. The names of the “benefactors” are listed above the door.
IP represents a large contingent of Swedish designers, including Vibe Johansson, whose leather jackets wholesale from $700 to $800; H Fredriksson, which uses organic cotton and bamboo in dresses, $140 to $160, and jackets, $200, and Ravishing Mad’s high-waisted denim pants, $75. There are also Wackerhaus’ Mod dresses with origamilike details, $150 to $350.
“We’re very drawn to Scandinavian designers,” Craddock said. “We try [to] not take fashion so seriously. We see it as a social and cultural experience.”
Craddock and Pizzolato have been friends for about eight years. They met while Craddock was working in production at Elizabeth Gillett, where she started the dress line Revival, and Pizzolato was working at Carlos Campos. Both had a strong case of wanderlust.
“I left Elizabeth Gillett because I wanted to start a collective boutique to give a platform to emerging designers,” Craddock said. “Our focus is to provide retail, wholesale and Web presence in one company.”
IP’s wholesale accounts include directional boutiques such as Opening Ceremony, Oaks and Sevens. Craddock said she and Pizzolato plan to produce an undergarment collection for men and women featuring a different guest designer each season. “It would be very fun and cheeky,” she said.