Assembly New York's Greg Armas.
Raised in Oregon, Greg Armas started his fashion career in Los Angeles with women’s boutique called Scout, which opened in 2003, selling brands like Preen and Rachel Comey to a Hollywood crowd conditioned to jeans and T-shirts. The store was a success, but New York City called, and Armas decamped to the East Coast in 2008 to launch the boutique Assembly New York in the Lower East Side, stocking brands like Risto and Linda Farrow. The next year, Armas launched a menswear line of the same name, which debuted in Spring 2010. This year, Armas added womenswear to the mix with Claire Lampert, formerly the Design Director at Bodkin, consulting on the collection.
Assembly’s Fall 2012 men’s collection (pictured below) includes a menswear blazer in tan and black with banded seams instead of a traditional lining, rust-colored denim, and chunky knitwear. The women’s collection features high-waist pants and floor-length trench coats. It’s a line that places a heavy emphasis on utilitarian basics, aimed at a customer looking for classic pieces with interesting details.
A prominent part of Assembly New York's message is that all of its garments are hand sewn in New York City. “The story is important to me to give the collection depth .... Creating and fabricating here gives the clothes a strong signature," Armas told us.
The boutique owner-turned-designer has his own production space and studio below his Lower East Side shop, and works with two other Manhattan-based factories to produce the collection.
Armas, who often describes his collection as “discreet luxury,” is following the lead of brands like Mary Kate and Ashley Olsen’s The Row, and Freemans Sporting Club, both of which have turned “Made in America” into a selling point.
"I pay a little more to source local goods and labor, but stand apart nicely for doing so,” Armas says. “New York is not per se indicative of quality in garmentry, but the character is appreciated universally. The fact that [my clothes] are made in the USA is an important factor to clients.” Prices range from $274 for a jersey pull-over to $424 for a wool blazer.
Armas’ commitment to manufacturing in New York is a move that seems to be paying off. Besides selling at his own boutique, the line is also available at Opening Ceremony and Seattle’s Blackbird, among other stores. Armas says he is thinking of opening a Los Angeles branch of the store, and is even mulling over publishing a book in-house and an album. Armas says, “I have a two year plan that is already blowing my mind. I look forward to working with other brands and designers as new projects pop up. I love other people's problems.” One upcoming collaboration is on glass jewelry with Malu Byrne, daughter of David Byrne.
Reflecting on his decision to set up roots in New York City, Armas says, “I came to New York for the pace and resources and I am definitely not disappointed. L.A. offers the best lifestyle, but it's not near the machine of New York in terms of work, culture.”