When co-owners Lisa Foti and Cornelius Byrd opened Apt 141 in 1997, they stocked it with a handpicked assortment of flouncy dresses from their favorite indie designers. But after years of observing the styles and body shapes of her clientele—many of them NYU students from down the street—Foti began designing frocks herself in 2004 and replaced her store’s stock with her own line, 3Free. Working with vibrant prints and touchable, wrinkle-free fabrics like silk blends, bamboo, and ITY depending on the season, Foti produces around fifteen styles of dresses and skirts at a time, christening each with a woman’s name. The silky Emily wrap dress is polished enough for the office, while the more daring Carly sports a V-neckline and a ruffled hem. Foti also scouts vintage shops for immaculate leather handbags, Seychelles pumps, and oversize sunglasses to complement her designs, and displays them on glass shelves and wooden tables adorned with flowers. The store also features a well-edited jewelry selection, including gemstone drop earrings from Olia and exotic feather and leather necklaces from Iron & Fire. — Lauren Murrow
From Lonely Planet
Youthful, fresh frocks in vivid prints, attractive stripes and even whimsical polka dots are hand-sewn out of materials like bamboo, silk, linen, lycra and cotton. Apt 141 has a knack for creating flattering urban wrap dresses and well-cut skirts that are the epitome of professional chic.
When co-owners Lisa Foti and Cornelius Byrd opened Apt 141 in 1997, they stocked it with a handpicked assortment of flouncy dresses from their favorite indie designers. But after years of observing the styles and body shapes of her clientelemany of them NYU students from down the street. Foti began designing frocks herself in 2004 and replaced her store’s stock with her own line, 3Free. Working with vibrant prints and touchable, wrinkle-free.
New York Daily News
In the East Village, crowded vintage boutiques can seem so alike. Apt 141 stands out, however, by selling its own line of clothing and items from small designers around the world alongside its well-priced (and well-chosen) vintage selection.
After all, if you’re going to stick around for six years, you need to put some thought into it. Co-owner Lisa Foti credits the small store’s staying power to its attention to detail. “We’ve stayed open by being really select and not following any other lead but our own. Our prices are really reasonable. In this economy, people want to spend $200 and get a few things.”
Her customers, neighborhood trendsters, stylists and models, favor her signature line in particular. This season, there are tops ($84), wrap dresses ($168) and skirts ($89) in turquoise and brown stretch ultrasuede with braided accents and beads.
Some of the most popular accessories include feather earrings ($18 each or $30 for a set, in true Village punk fashion). Leather hair wraps ($28 each) are great for fashioning trendy pigtails. Vintage bags ($45-$75) range from soft leather hobos to snakeskin clutches.
Foti and her partner, Cornelius Byrd, pride themselves on carrying a wide range of sizes, which means women sizes 9 and 10 will find vintage leather boots ($75-$110) that fit. And still have money left over for a feather earring or two.
AM New York
Modern Threads with a Mod Spirit
Tucked behind the Trader Joes at Union Square is the small boutique shop Apt 141. The colorful prints and cheery store window caught my eye one recent Saturday. I spotted a black top with an Art Nouveau print that I just couldn’t pass up. Here’s what I found out about the boutique and its label 3Free:
Designer and co-owner Lisa Foti opened Apt 141 13 years ago with her partner Cornelius Byrd. What started out as a vintage clothing boutique evolved into their own original women’s clothing line – 3Free. “We saw a need for more feminine dresses,” Foti says. “We like to play with shapes, mix colors and textures together.” Wrap dresses in bold prints, jersey tops and skirts are their mainstay. Depending on the body type tops can be worn as dresses, skirts as tops and some items are reversible.
“We listen to our customers and ask them what they are looking for, she said. They also name each new dress style after women – the Ruby dress, or the Emily, for example.
Nothing is mass produced. “It’s all made here in the U.S.,” Foti said. “We won’t be going to China to cut costs.” They offer limited numbers of each dress and are always changing up the looks. Foti is also working on an “environmentally conscious clothing” line. Dubbed the “Clover,” the clothes will be made from natural fabrics like bamboo.
The 3Free label can be found in boutique shops in Manhattan and the boroughs. Foti hopes to take 3Free nationwide over the next few years. They are in the midst of getting a Web site up and running.
3Free dresses go for $98-138. Tops and skirts typically sell for $68.
– Peggy Mihelich
On a warm and humid afternoon (as I said in my last column, summer is *not* over!), my energy was revved by the sight of an outdoor rack with cheerful dresses and blouses swaying in the slight breeze. I’d found Apt. 141, a cute and cozy shop that’s home of creations from the design label 3Free.
The shop was devoted to vintage until 4 years ago, when the 3Free label was born; though vintage shoes and accessories, as well as some vintage pieces (and items from other designers), are still represented. I loved the kimono-style print dresses ($118) and the solid-color smocks with print necklines ($138), both great for now and through the fall.
Summer items that will transition perfectly into early fall include a green and black striped wrap dress (was $118, now 30% off); a seafoam-green blouse from Toi et Moi with a beautiful neckline that references frothing waves ($48); and a brown and white geometric-patterned wrap dress (30% off $118). And then there’s the above-mentioned outdoor sale rack, with dresses priced at $45 and tops for $25. Here I loved–well, just about all of it, but the brown-and-white A-line dress, the black-and-white kimono-style dress, and the semi-wrap dress in various shades of blue seemed most likely to transition well into the coming season. (All will work well on their own now and over leggings or jeans later on).
A shop customer was trying on a terrific swiss-dotted long-sleeve minidress with a floral pattern (on sale for $73), and it looked smashing. You can imagine these clothes working for the office, after-work drinks, evenings when you’ve got tickets to the theater or the ballet–they’ve got loads of style, but they’re practical, too–and, like the store, they’ve got a friendly vibe.
Note: Speaking of friendly–well, Fashion Week is in full swing, and unfortunately, it’s not generally known for its warm spirit. If you’re going, a few quick tips:
1) Bring a friend, if possible, or at least something to read; shows start late, so there will be down time.
2) Never get caught in attitude. Just because the woman in front of you is rude doesn’t mean you should be. Just because the security guard is barking orders like a prison guard doesn’t mean you should therefore snarl at the stranger beside you…and so on. Be the gracious one.
3) Tell the truth at all times. Lying about your seat or your presence on a list rarely works; but leveling politely with everyone will earn you respect (and, often as not, a standing-room slot if you’re not on the list after all). Have fun! -Pamela Grossman; Sept 9, 2007