Retail 101: A Q&A with International Playground on the Lower East Side, NY


International Playground keeps it cool by working with "good people making good clothing." Through their Lower East Side boutique, showroom and e-commerce site, they are able to stock and support brands from all around the world. Partnering with designers from Denmark, Hong Kong, Sweden and of course, local talent, you'll find collections with their own point-of-view and fresh personality. From accessories, shoes, women's and men's apparel, their vision is ahead of the curve and certainly gives you unique wares to play around in.

The Emerging Designer had a chance to talk with International Playground to see how a designer can best work with them.

What do you look for in a designer?

First we look for great person with strong character that we want to get into bed with so to speak. Someone you want to talk to everyday and experience highs and lows with. Also, I feel like designers have to have a sense of prophecy in design, and a long term goal or plan. People that create a world and an aesthetic you can feel without any explanation is best.

What's the store's aesthetic?

A large part of our aesthetic is determined by the designers we represent in the showroom. We sell all of the collections we represent in the showroom in the store. The great part is we are working a season a head of time so we know what the designers showing in Copenhagen, Paris, NYC, LA, Vegas, etc... look like. With all of that being said, we tend to fall in love with personalities and usually the designers we love also make clothing we love. We try to have fun with clothing, but we also know it's important to make people feel great and project whatever it is they are trying to say about themselves with their clothes.

Can you talk about how the brand is also a showroom and its appeal for international designers?

We represent a large number of the designers that we carry in the store in the showroom. The showroom started off in the store, but has since relocated to a space near by.  The store still functions as the showroom and vice versa, though.  When we are thinking of taking on a new line in the showroom, we start to sell it in the store so we can get a read on it first with our customers, which are a great judge of what sells in a boutique setting.  We love Danish, Swedish, and Finnish design and travel there to seek out new designers and sell our NYC-based collections, but we've recently started with a British men's line, Son's of Heroes, and a new Portuguese shoe line, Guava.

What makes a good pitch?

Good clothing or items that fill a niche we don't have covered. Also patience and persistence.

What do you look for in a look book and/or line sheet?

Look books and line sheets should be clear. We all love to be art directors and editors, but a line sheet really isn't the time for that when you are introducing something new unless editorial shots are interspersed for theme, etc...

How can a designer work best with you?

When everything is clear, easy, and out in the open.

What makes you bring a designer back for the next season?

If we like what they are doing and it's easy.

What makes a good collection?

Confidence and good taste.

Any designer dont's?

Don't be too heavy or blatantly influenced by something outside of yourself.

What is the best way for a designer to reach you?

Email us at When do you buy?

All of the time.

Which trade shows do you attend?

Gallery-Copenhagen, Capsule-NYC men's and women's Vegas, Paris. D+A LA and NYC, Project NYC and Vegas, private showrooms. etc...

Any other tips, suggestions or words of wisdom?

Keep it cool and do you.


Check them out at International Playground.

13 Stanton Street New York, NY 10003 212.228.2700

Emerging designer or have a resource to share? Feel free to contact me at

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