A New York institution, Tender Buttons remains the same today as it was when opened in 1965 on the ground floor shop of a townhouse. Founded in 1964 when Diana Epstein bought a large button collection, and joined shortly after by Millicent Safro, an antique restorer, the partners embarked on a journey learning everything there was to know about buttons and became experts in their field. Named after a work by Gertrude Stein, the walls of Tender Buttons are lined with boxes of everyday buttons carefully organized by color and type, above which are framed collections of rare and antique buttons. There are buttons in the shop from England, Ireland, Scotland, Wales, Holland, Belgium, France, Italy, Russia, Egypt and Japan, as well as collections, which are designed and commissioned exclusively for Tender Buttons. Ms. Safro still enjoys traveling to find buttons and other tiny vintage treasures, her favorite destination being Paris. Her collections of beautiful antique cufflinks, shirt studs, and belt buckles as well as other small antique objects are displayed in cases throughout the shop. Over the decades she has counted many NY-based fashion designers, fashion students and home sewers amongst her customers, but has found more recently that her customer base has changed from local to international. There are visitors and collectors from Europe, South America, Australia and Asia, sometimes three generations of a family shopping at the same time. Ms. Safro considers buttons an Art form, which is easy to understand as a trip to Tender Buttons to view her vast collection is like visiting a beautifully curated museum.
143 East 62nd Street, New York NY