WHAT WE LOVE: Poetic womenswear collection designed, made and sold in the designer’s, Gary Graham, studio and shop in Upstate NY. Each garment weaves a story, informed by the history of the location of place and through unique textiles, intricate stitching and details.
WHO: Award-winning, Art Institute of Chicago trained designer Gary Graham.
WHERE: 422 Main Street, Franklin in Upstate New York that also house antique shop Kabinett & Kammer and Bea’s convenience store.
Why did you name the shop Gary Graham 422? I wanted to create a site specific project where, the 422, meaning many of the collections are inspired by the history here in Franklin.
Is there a Gary Graham 422 signature piece? The short cocoon in antique tapestries.
Where are Gary Graham designs made? We currently make all of the garments on-site in our studio above the store. Our knitwear is produced in Peru. I work with a mill in Cherry Valley, NY called Thistle Hill weavers and many of our textiles are collaborations with the mill. We use antique fabrics that I find while I tag along with Sean on buying trips and I design all of the new prints.
Who are your customers? My customers are mostly women in creative fields but that is changing and expanding.
How has the internet impacted your business? I think people have become much more comfortable buying online and and it’s also allowed me to open a very niche store in a remote location.
How has the pandemic affected your business? In the beginning of the shutdown I started making everything myself and embroidering as much as possible to make it even more special and personalized.
Gary Graham, shopkeeper at 422 Main Street
Who inspires you? People who create thier own worlds and invite people in. Creatives, it could be writers, directors, designers who strive to create work that is challenging and original in the broad sense.
What inspires you? I am mostly inspired by history and story telling. Visually I’m inspired by so many things. I have developed prints – like the Lillian print, taken from Sean Scherer’s transfer wear and based them on a historical figure here in Franklin.
Before I was a shopkeeper… I’ve worked in fashion my entire life and with each different experience there was always a retail component. I first started working for J. Morgan Puett in the nineties in her stores in NYC. This gave me the experience of creating clothing on-site and then seeing firsthand how it was being received by the customer, since our workspace was in the back of the shop. Then, I worked for ABC Carpet and home in product development where I eventually opened the first Gary Graham boutique there on their first floor.
I also had a flagship on Franklin street in Tribeca until I moved up here with Sean and closed both city stores.
Your favorite thing about owning an independent shop? My favorite thing is being able to connect with the customers and create installations.
Your advice for anyone wanting to open a shop? My challenges have always been just to try and enjoy the experience while keeping diligent self care when dealing with the public. I was always taught owning a store is not a right it’s a priviledge so I would keep that in mind in terms of maintaining a spirit of generosity. Strive to create beauty.
If you weren’t a shopkeeper you would be..? I would direct films or create sculptures.
What are your favorite local independent businesses? Kabinett and Kammer of course! Henry in Hudson, Alder and Co. and Luddite in Germantown. Bluefarm antiques here in Franklin.
I wish I could… Transform into different characters.
Gary Graham on the “Future of Retail”
“I think retail will always be important in that it’s where the humanity and exchange of capitalism takes place and plays out. There is this extreme awkwardness in the exchange between customer and salesperson that tests our strengths and weaknesses that I think is very crucial to how we grow as humans.”
422 Main Street, Franklin, NY