Byline: Anamaria Wilson

NEW YORK — Rest assured, the East Village is still a hotbed for edgy and avant-garde talent.
The latest retail addition to the neighborhood is No. 436, a 350-square-foot store which opened last month at 436 East 9th Street between First Avenue and Avenue A. Founded by Elite model Christopher Crawford and friend Angela Deane, the tiny storefront houses their own label, Christopher Deane, as well as two other lines.
Christopher Deane’s designs run the gamut from preppie to classic with standouts like pink and white seersucker trousers and full pleated skirts in everything from silk to cotton along with whimsical hand-painted pop tanks and skirts. Their spring theme was along the lines of a “regal picnic.”
“All the fabrics we use are organic. I won’t use anything that turns into glue,” said Crawford.
The other labels sold in the store are Bjanders by Brian Anderson and Frederic by Sarah Spratt. “I saw Brian in a fabric store on Orchard Street looking at this laughably hideous fabric, and thought I have to talk to this guy,” said Crawford. After discovering he was a designer, he offered him the store to showcase his wares. Anderson then introduced Crawford to his old friend Spratt.
“Their stuff is a lot different from what we do, but it adds a more avant-garde edge to the subtle things we do,” said Crawford of the other two collections. Spratt’s line specializes in knits and chiffon separates with deconstructed accents and frayed edges, while Bjanders focuses on feminine tailored pieces with edgy touches like graphic prints and smocking. Retail prices for all three lines range from $80 to $250 for trousers, dresses and blouses.
Initially Crawford and Deane were sharing the space with its previous tenant, Lina Tsai. Then last December, when Crawford was a bit down on his luck and selling Christmas trees under the Verrazano Bridge, Tsai called to say she wanted out and offered the lease to Crawford and Deane. “We gave each other a kiss on the cheek and promised it was our Christmas gift to each other for the next 20 years,” said Crawford. “Then we renovated it and opened it the way we wanted it.”
The diminutive space falls easily into the categories of charming and cozy with its exposed brick, warm yellow and white walls and amusing touches like a sculpture made of Fifties sewing patterns and a funky, retro vending machine decorated with stenciled flowers.
Crawford is also opening his door to other designers in an effort to foster new talent. “We want to make it easier for new designers to have a place to show their clothes. We wanted to turn it into sort of an incubator for young talent.
“The fashion business is a tough one when you’re starting out, with not a lot of rewards necessarily. So, this would just help a handful of them get a leg up.”
As to Crawford’s business plans, right now he’s happy just getting by. “As long as I have enough money to pay rent and maybe some extra to buy shoes along the way, I’m happy.”

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