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/ April 10, 2012
Retro-Fitted: The Hoodie Shop Opens With Clothing Swag And 70s Vibe

Nestled comfortably on 181 Orchard Street, The Hoodie Shop is like an infant wearing venetian-blind shades: so young and yet so fly. With Tuesday marking its twenty-first day as an open establishment, the Hoodie Shop has already demonstrated its fashionable flair for hooded apparel.

As Gabrielle Kellner, the store’s press director, mentioned as she led us around dazzlingly colored store, anything with a hood is fair game. Seriously, anything: the standard hooded sweatshirt, a hooded vest or a stand-alone hood.

The head-covering proprietor doesn’t carry American Apparel knock-offs that fall apart at the first breeze. Co-founder Aleah Speranza combed through all the various clothing lines to find the best-of-the-best, like the colorful and durable California line Avator Nation. The Hoodie Store has got high-fashion hoods on lock.

Like any good origin story, the Hoodie Shop’s beginning says a lot about its present state. Speranza and Peter Shapiro of Brooklyn Bowl fame reconnected at an LCD Soundsystem concert a year ago. When Shapiro asked Speranza what she wanted to do, she replied, “I want to open a hoodie store.” So they did.

Built upon a dream, a lot of research, and celebrity interest from Roots drummer and NYU orator ?uestlove, the store finally opened on March 20.

Right now, the hoodie is the center of the American zeitgeist following the killing of hooded teen Trayvon Martin. “I texted Pete and said how ironic is it that we’re going into this Hoodie Shop venture now, with what’s happened,” ?uestlove told New York Mag. “I was like, ‘How we gonna handle this, because I don’t want people to think we’re jumping on the hoodie bandwagon.’”

Although the premise may be relevant to the recent tragedy, the Hoodie Shop’s foundation is in an entirely different era, the 1970s, when the hooded sweatshirt first gained its notoriety through both high fashion as well as the burgeoning NYC hip-hop scene.

As Gabrielle told us, Speranza had a clear vision of the ocular sensations of the 1960s and 70s. Indeed, every inch of the storefront screams “HANG OUT LIKE IT’S 1969.” Extremely loud and incredibly comfortable retro furniture is everywhere, from the exclusive Charles Hollis Jones barstools against the cash register’s counter to the multi-tiered 70s marvel the Living Tower. For the music, a projector mounted to the ceiling screens live shows of ’70s rock bands.

Every piece of furniture is open to be both climbed and sat -upon, an authentic Tommy Pinball Wizard machine waits to be played, and a DJ booth fitted to ?uestlove’s Brooklyn Bowl specifications is ready for upcoming special events. Everyone is welcome, even the little girl who runs in after every school day to jump around for half an hour and runs out with a handful of retro sweets.

The fledging store is still in its infancy, so the buzz is still growing. Before it blows up in a fit of e-glory, follow the Hoodie Shop and Speranza (@Hoodie_Girl) on Twitter, bombard their Yelp! page before all the cool kids comment on it, or just stalk ?uestlove’s Twitter to see which Sunday he’ll be back again. Or, for the IRL experience, wander east and below Houston for hooded goodness. Come for the apparel, stay for the pinball machine.

The Hoodie Shop is at 181 Orchard Street between East Houston and Stanton. 

Photos by Nadia Hassan.