Re/Dress NYC, New York's premier plus-size vintage and modern clothing boutique closed its doors on Nov. 20 after three years in business. Deb Malkin, the owner, says it was a tough decision to shut it down, but this is not the end of the store.
At 7:45 p.m. on the evening of Nov. 20, Re/Dress NYC, a Cobble Hill, Brooklyn boutique, shuttered its doors after three years in business. Deb Malkin, the owner of Re/Dress, had to close the store due to pricey overhead costs. But for the time that Malkin kept her business running, she offered her clientele something unique: vintage and modern clothing for plus sizes, specifically sizes 14 and up. In fact, Malkin’s was the only store in New York City to sell edgy, non-mainstream plus-size women’s clothing. That’s not to say that Re/Dress only catered to women. Malkin says that everyone across the gender spectrum shopped at her store, including cross dressers and drag queens.
To commemorate the store’s final weekend, Malkin held a Friday night fashion show that featured lines from six independent plus-size designers. A Saturday and Sunday shopping event also gave customers the opportunity to buy clothes from each designer’s line. Despite the somber occasion, the atmosphere inside the store stayed lively and fun—mainly because customers knew this was not the end of Re/Dress.
Back in August, Malkin launched the online iteration of Re/Dress, which she’ll operate from San Francisco when she moves there this month. She says she also plans on going on tour to hold Re/Dress pop-up shops around the country. It won’t be the same as having the old store and her team of employees (the “shopgrrrls”), she says, but the online shop will still be a good resource for her loyal customers.
This stuff is getting donated. So these are the items that, you know, are left over and nobody wants to buy. So, we’re just donating them and saying goodbye to the last bits and pieces of the store.
My goal with Re/Dress was always to create a positive environment and the conduit that was why people would come here, why women would come here, would be shopping. We had men who were cross-dressers and men who didn’t cross-dress and drag queens and all genders—everyone across the gender spectrum was welcome here.
I think we made a statement about fashion as a tool, about the importance of creating your own image—falling in love with your body and putting it out there, not to be judged, but to be kind of experienced.
It was a difficult decision to close the store and end this glittery, magical fashion experiment after three rollercoaster years. You don’t need me to tell you that times are hard, but it is important for me to close Re/Dress the same way that I opened it: with intention and heart and a lot of love.
The Re/Dress online store opened in August. It’s not going to be the same—it can’t be the same. It’s not going to be the same experience as walking in the store and talking to the shopgrrrls and having people pull things for you, but it will be a great and fun resource for folks.
So I think it’ll be the great next incarnation.
This was an emotionally difficult story to report. Not only was a one-of-a-kind store shutting down, but Malkin’s employees were also losing their jobs. Especially considering these tough economic times, I truly felt sorry for everyone involved. But during my weekend of interviewing and shooting, I was impressed to see that Malkin and her employees put on hopeful faces. Sure, the store was closing down, but all Re/Dress personnel felt happy for having the chance to be part of the store’s community during its three years of operation. Through my reporting, I learned a very valuable lesson: no matter the circumstance, we must forge forth to keep living. Great things are bound to happen to all of us.
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