If you're looking for the ultimate retreat for one-of-a-kind pieces and inconspicuous luxury, look no further than December's boutique, THEO Clothier, newly in the heart of Red Bank, NJ. The upscale Front Street boutique, named in honor of Alexander's parents, as his dad's middle name is Theodor, carries high-end clothing that can be mixed and matched and the highest quality leather, suede, and accessories. On a cool, Friday evening I got to chat with the owner, Alexander Meder and creative director, Tamara Lynas, to discuss everything that THEO has to offer.
Immediately upon walking in for the first time, I am drawn to a display like a magnet. It is a beautiful arrangement of deep merlot, dusty rose, paisley, abstract, a hint of emerald... The store truly is a carefully curated selection of merchandise. As I look around, it seems nothing is really organized by designer. Instead, color stories are created with complementary textures, on-trend fabrics, and perfectly paired patterns for each display. Alexander's eye for quality fabric is very evident.
I love a store organized in this aesthetic, because I easily gravitate toward both color palettes I love and others I may not have considered. Genius, really - it makes every single piece more attractive. Just the right mix of solids and prints make each of them stand out individually and I can quickly grab my favorites the hundreds of pieces available on the floor.
I commented on the prime location of the store in high-energy Red Bank - one of my favorite towns to browse unique boutiques when I was living in the area. "Red Bank has a beautiful character," Alexander, who's life is rooted in fashion and retail, agreed. "It's a tight-knit community, affluent, it just made sense." As he told Industry this past fall, Red Bank is "a vibrant, artistic town...a year-round cosmopolitan." It's the perfect place to stroll, eat, and shop. Next time you can stop by, I suggest a chicken pesto crepe at Whipped, vinyl-browsing at Jack's, cocktails on Teak's rooftop, and some retail therapy at THEO, of course.
Tamara explained that European and small-label designers represented a void previously unfilled in Red Bank. The designers in the store are represented almost exclusively, and will not be found at even the biggest and best malls and shopping centers in the state. If you're looking for elite and unique designers - especially from Germany, Italy, and France - look no further than THEO. Right now, designers are about half American and half European with the breakdown being nearly 20% local, tri-state area designers. Further, the brands are about 40% Italian, 20% French, and a mix of German and Spanish as well. There were a few designers I had rarely or never heard of that I will certainly have to save some closet space for. I am always a fan of having something unique - a dress with no imposter or a handbag I've never seen another soul carry - and THEO is packed with unique pieces.
As a luxury boutique, THEO is all about customer service and giving the total experience. Often, we don't have time to spend ordering on-line only to find the quality or fit of the clothing isn't what we expected. Traveling to a mall or department store is often a time consuming task as well and there can be very little customer service there anymore. THEO offers a knowledgable staff, special styling services, and a chic, relaxed, atmosphere.
What I can say about THEO is that walking in, you should expect that the prices are relatively high, but know that the quality of the pieces is absolutely unparalleled: the most luxurious velvet, softest leather, and deepest colors you can imagine. You are going to find inconspicuously luxurious items you never knew you needed and quite possibly some designers you never knew existed. You will find the "new" basics - not necessarily statement pieces that stand out, but complementary pieces that make you stand out. This is a store that not only sells but inspires fashion. (Speaking of - I will be back for that ruffled emerald blouse!) If you appreciate quality clothing, you will appreciate this store.
Read below for more on my interview with Alexander and Tamara and a peek at some of my favorite items in the store. Plus, check out my ultimate luxurious holiday wishlist!
When did you open your boutique?
THEO opened in summer 2016.
What prompted the idea to start THEO?
In part my childhood experiences inspired me; When I was young, my parents, who had been in wholesale apparel, started their own retail clothing business in a small town south of Munich, Germany, very similar to Red Bank. What started as 150 square ft. grew into a 20,000 square ft. small department store by 1999 - which is still owned by my family today. I've always worked in fashion wholesale and retail and wanted to offer a uniquely curated selection of smaller upscale American and European designers who embody an individual sense of wearable fashion.
What "it" piece do you have in your store right now?
My rule is to listen to the client and to know our products. There definitely are some "trends" and we have certain items that seem to be stand-out favorites right now but that could change next season.
What is the price range of the clothing/accessories you carry?
Items like a staple or underpinnings may start around $80, higher price points are for investment pieces around $1,200 - for leather, suede or unique designer jewelry in gold with semi-precious stones.
How would you describe the style of clothing/accessories you offer?
We are always tweaking our selection. We listen to what our clients want, what fits thier lifestyles, thier bodies and what is new and exciting.
Aside from shopping, can customers look forward to anything special at THEO?
We recently did pop-up shops at the iconic Bell Works for the first Annual Bell Works Holiday Shopping Event and during the summer we did another pop-up at Pitti Bimi in Deal, NJ. We even offered a future shopping incentive on purchases so our current (as well as future) clientele had even more of a reason to visit us. THEO also participates in fashion shows and collaborative art events making the fusion of fashion and art a multi-modal experience. Preseason trunk shows are also a unique experience for many of our customers and we try to do a few of those each season. At trunk shows, clients can order in sizes and styles we might not otherwise order. Each month, we designate a charity to support with the sale of our custom water bottles. Last month we supported the national Cystic Fibrosis charity as well as a personal CF charity related to one of our local merchants. This month we are supporting a local food bank. Social Media is another method we use to communicate with our clientele including the addition of a new style blog coming in early 2018 along with web, Instagram and Facebook. We discuss and present new arrivals, introduce new designers, and give the public a look into special events.
What is most inspiring to you about style?
Style is certainly more than fashion. It is beyond fashion. Whether you like it or not, what you are wearing is the first impression you make. It also has a greater impact on how we feel than most of us realize. Style says who you are, and chances are, you'll be that the whole day, so it should reflect how you want to feel about yourself and how you want to be viewed! The pieces you invest in also shouldn't be a waste of your money or time. Invest in pieces that will last, that are quality and that will have staying power. As our tagline states, "STYLE + LIFE". Why give up style just because you live a busy life? Your life isn't boring - so why should your clothing be?
Do you have any rules of fashion to live by?
Four important terms come into play here: fit, fabric, finishing, and fun. First and foremost is fit. Start with good underpinnings, know your body and which shapes look good - and which don't. It will save you a closet full of stuff you don't wear. Remember, it isn't you when things don't fit nicely. Find what fits you best, and tailor the rest! Next, be sure to buy clothing made of good quality fabrics. Are they using the fabric on the front and back? Don't forget to check the care label! If it doesn't fit your lifestyle, don't buy it. As for finishing, check pieces are well made all the way down to hems, linings, and buttons. If not, it's not worth it. Lastly, fun! There really are no rules - dress for yourself, mix and match, buy what you love. As long as it's a good silhouette on your, chances are it will look good, even if it's an outrageous pattern! If you're not having fun, what are you dressing up for?