At Kasuri, Avant-Garde Fashion Has Moved Upstate
By Jamie Larson
Compared to other luxury clothing stores, walking into Kasuri, in Hudson, New York, feels different. It’s as if you’re witnessing a living, breathing extension of the art form that is Fashion. Owner Layla Kalin stocks her salon exclusively from personal trips to the four yearly fashion weeks in Paris, with an eye for trend setting and offering items by some of the most famous designers in the world.
“I thought it would be low key at first, but I did want to bring luxury fashion upstate,” says Kalin, who moved to, and fell in love with the region with ex-husband and Etsy founder Rob Kalin. “There just wasn’t anyone doing this up here. In Hudson you could buy a $5,000 coffee table but there was nowhere to get a really nice jacket. I needed a place to get my style fix.”
Kalin, Emmett and Osofsky
One might think a clothing store that is, in certain respects, a modern art gallery that boasts some jaw-dropping price tags, might feel inaccessible to the layman. But through their earnest excitement for sharing the styles they love, Kalin and Kasuri director Jonathan Osofsky have cultivated a surprisingly warm and welcoming atmosphere, whether you’re someone looking to buy a show-stopping piece or a neighborhood kid with an eye for fashion who just wants to ask questions.
Kalin describes the apparel in store as “dark established avant-garde.” A lot of it is inspired as much by street wear as high fashion, while some of the more artistic experimental pieces, often pulled straight from the Paris runway, could be considered “anti-fashion.” There is a men’s or women’s section but Kalin says she’s drawn to androgynous garments that may have masculine or feminine characteristics but aren’t defined by them.
“I would personally wear anything in the store,” Kalin says. “I like to push the envelope but I also buy things that are likely to sell — and definitely things for the cult following.”
Kasuri showcases designers on and often ahead of the bleeding edge of fashion but also well-known designers at the top of the industry. It’s stuff you just can’t find anywhere nearby. Kalin had to build relationships with the brands to be allowed to buy from them. Some of the items on display may not seem in fashion today, but in a year, or maybe five, you’ll see their influence.
The collections are shaped in large part by signature brands from Japan and some from Europe. Japanese designers like Comme des Garçons, Issey Miyake and Yohji Yamamoto define the environment in Kasuri (the shop shares its name with a type of Japanese fabric).
“These Japanese designers are all a part of the same avant-garde royalty who are super influential in fashion right now,” says Osofsky. “We only carry designers with a strong vision. They’re not as trend driven. It’s innovative but wearable. We also do have some things that have been walked down a runway that are more structural and inspirational.”
Everyone has an intrinsically personal relationship with clothing; it hides the parts of ourselves we don’t want others to see and makes us beautiful in our own eyes. So when a piece of clothing is inaccessible — because of price or because it looks so outside our understanding of what we thought we knew clothes could be — it can invoke a visceral, negative emotional response. For those not versed in the language of style, challenging that response at Kasuri can be a meaningful experience. Consider: do you stop appreciating the artistry or acknowledging the legitimacy of a painting at Stair Galleries after noting its price tag?
“It’s fascinating to see into the process,” Osofsky says. “There’s a lot going on. It’s about investigating what clothing is. In some ways it’s about more than clothes. For some of these designers it’s about the deconstruction of fashion.”
That said, not everything at Kasuri is out of reach for the average shopper. Sure, there are some big ticket items, like a $16,000 Rick Owens bomber jacket, but there are many things within the few hundred dollar range that are worth the splurge when you consider the quality of its construction (and how great you’ll feel wearing it). For instance, there is an elegantly funky collection of jewelry by Vivienne Westwood on display with many pieces for under $300.
Osofsky says he wants the store to feel inspirational as much as aspirational, quoting Westwood, “Buy less, choose well, make it last.”
If you can’t make it to the physical store, Kasuri is preparing to launch its own online marketplace in the near future. Until then, items can be purchased online at the shop’s page on Farfetch.
1 Warren St., Hudson, NY
Open Wednesday–Saturday, 11 a.m. – 6 p.m.
Sunday, noon – 4 p.m.