Times are tough in the world of retail, but Rob Smith sensed a void in the market.
Burnt out after his time in corporate America (he was a former fashion executive at Macy’s, Levi’s, and Victoria’s Secret) and perturbed by our current political administration, the 53-year-old opened the doors last month to The Phluid Project, the very first “safe space” (in the retail realm) free of gender binarism—in other words, no separate men’s and women’s sections and non-binary mannequins—that bills itself as “part community, part retail.”
Located in Manhattan’s NoHo neighborhood, the 3,000-square-foot space is a gender-fluid wonderland that carries goodies from Soulland, Kinfolk, Champion, MEAT, Skingraft, Gypsy Sport, and Phluid’s in-house label, and more and allows for workshops, open calls for budding designers, and community events. This week alone will see urban sustainability expert Meredith Danberg-Ficarelli discuss “respecting Mother Earth while living in NYC” and trans activists and artists ALOK and Travis Alabanza conduct a poetry reading. There’s also a coffee and juice bar as well as rotating artist residencies.