Where Fashion Meets Friendship: James Veloria Studio
On the second floor of an indoor shopping mall in Chinatown, Manhattan, lives James Veloria, an archival men's and womenswear boutique petite in size yet comprehensively curated. Founded by Collin James Weber and Brandon Veloria Giordano, James Veloria is a project of both passion and community. Just as a common love for clothing continuously brings Collin and Brandon closer together, James Veloria is steadily forming a new like-minded community driven by archival fashion. We reflected on business, fashion, community, and love with Collin and Brandon in-store and, of course, dipped into their vibrant, very-sparkly archive.
Photography by Some Girls.
Kate Marin: How long have you had a physical store?
Collin James Weber & Brandon Veloria Giordano: We opened our store last July, so almost 6 months now.
KM: How do your professional backgrounds influence the work you do today?
CW: I was a librarian before I moved to New York. My background in research definitely comes in handy when we're trying to date the clothing we find and learn more about the history of each item.
BG: I worked for a stylist and for a designer before this which is where I gained a lot of my contacts and met many of the fun people we buy from.
KM: Many businesses are focused on catering to their customers, but you are more focused on creating an archive that represents your unique interests and tastes. Do you ever find this approach challenging?
BG: It can be challenging but we've found that creating an archive that represents our unique interests has only brought out customers that really get us. Many have become friends and are as nerdy as we are about what we're curating. I never want to have a business that chases after our customers but rather one that informs them.
KM: How is it most rewarding?
CW: It feels so good to know that there are other people who share your interests and to be doing something that feels authentic. Before we really put ourselves out there we really weren't sure how people would respond to our weird, colorful queer aesthetic.
KM: How did you first start connecting with your customers and other collectors in NYC?
CW: I had been selling clothing on eBay as a hobby for many years. When I moved to NYC so many of the customers who were buying things from me online were also located in New York. As our collection grew, I started inviting some regular customers to come over and shop in person at our apartment.
BG: I started by renting out my personal collection to stylists and then by selling special pieces to dealers all over NYC. Once I moved in with Collin we had a full-fledged business running out of our apartment! We loved it but are so happy to have a location for people to visit that isn't our living room.
KM: You have many recurring customers—some were your friends previously and others I would imagine are people you have met along the way. How does community play a role in the world of archival resale?
BG: Community has played a huge role for us and we've found that our unique curation has brought in so many interesting people. It's always fun to see customers meet each other in the shop and bond over their shared love of fashion and how fun it can be. Our store sometimes feels like hanging out in a living room and playing dress up.
KM: You are partners in business and in life/love—how has James Veloria grown with your relationship?
CW: I think it's really helped us grow closer. Sharing every aspect of your personal and professional life with someone can be a little scary but it's never felt too difficult for us to spend so much time together.
BG: Yeah I'm pretty obsessed with Collin! And having a business together has been so romantic. As cheesy as it sounds, I feel really lucky that we found each other and are making each others' dreams come true.
KM: Do you find that there any challenges working together?
BG: Of course! Allot of our best work and decisions come from some pretty lengthy arguments. We're both very stubborn people!
CW: There are always challenges in working with anyone but I think we're really fortunate that our skills and interests complement each other.
KM: What makes a piece of clothing beautiful to you?
CW: I think I'm most drawn to unique construction that adds something unexpected to a classic shape or anything clever with a sense of humor.
BG: There always needs to be something a little off about everything I like but with intention. I love beautifully made garments that look a little fucked up or make you think "Was that intentional?"
KM: What are your top three collections of all time?
CW & BG: Currently (of course this is always changing), they are Martin Margiela SS 2000, Helmut Lang FW 1999, and Jean Paul Gaultier FW 1993.
KM: What new designers do you think will be archive worthy in the future and why?
CW: We both love a lot of designers coming out of London right now. There seems to be an irreverence and freer creative spirit that I think was lacking in fashion for a while. People can take fashion way too seriously! It's hard to say what would be archive worthy but we definitely like designers like Molly Godard, Mary Katrantzou, J.W. Anderson, and I'm always hunting for Christopher Kane's SS 06 graduation collection.
Who/what brands do you think is/are impacting the fashion industry most right now?
BG: Demna at Balenciaga and Allessandro at Gucci. I feel like it's a very obvious answer due to how commercially successful they are but being sellable is so relevant. They've both pushed an aesthetic that I think even our business feels as they're very referential of vintage garments.
Follow Collin and Brandon on instagram here and shop their grails below.