Photography by William Ross

Greg Armas

Designer/Founder, Assembly New York

| Chinatown

We’re all aware of the common thread that runs through art, architecture, fashion and design, but perhaps nowhere is it more palpable than inside Greg Armas’ Assembly New York, the Lower East Side boutique that’s more like an elegant study in curation than a clothing store. That is to say, each detail at Assembly feels intentional, yet grounded; the room is filled with pieces not because they’re de rigueur, but because Armas sees the organic conversation between them all— it’s as much about the perfectly slinky camisole and subdued tuxedo short as it is the urban décor and funky playlists. In effect, it’s the sort of marriage of aesthetics for which Armas was perfectly groomed. A student of fine arts and curatorial studies, he operated contemporary art galleries, dabbled in architectural and retail consulting and succeeded at an initial foray into retail (launching concept boutique Scout LA) before conceptualizing Assembly New York, then a mens-only boutique for emerging labels. Jump ahead seven years and he has grown the shop into a full-fledged, bicoastal men’s and women’s brand stocking its own handcrafted label in addition to up-and-coming names like AANDD, Jorge Morales and Illesteva. With Armas manning all aspects of design, the in-house label focuses on subtle luxury and sensible minimalism for both men and women. Here, he sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal his little black book on NYC.

NEIGHBORHOOD STANDBY: Dimes on Canal Street (MAP IT, x) is irresistible. The owners and staff are always on-point, making healthy dishes that remind me of what I grew up on in Oregon. I’ve had everything on the menu, but keep coming back for the simple salad with radish and the half chicken over tomatoes.

COFFEE OR TEA: An americano from Doughnut Plant (MAP IT, x) because they serve Intelligentsia and they have life-changing donuts.

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: My quintessential favorite is Balthazar (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x); it has the most perfect diffused lighting and you can eat real food late there. One of my first impressions of New York was sitting with a perfect steak au poivre at midnight in Balthazar watching bow-tied waiters zip around.

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: Cognac, neat. My drink is simple so I am sure to find it at any decent hole. There’s a great place called Anyway Café on E. 2nd Street (MAP IT, x) where a person can hide in the corner with a drink and some local jazz.

MUSIC PICK: Wow. Music is a huge part of our company DNA at Assembly. I hand select all of our playlists that we listen to at each location. I love what is good from every genre. In shop, we listen to a lot of mixes with darkish, reggae, Mount Kimbie and classic rock all mushed together. I can say I really enjoy reverberationradio.com for a classic potpourri.

BEST BRUNCH: Gemma at the Bowery Hotel (MAP IT, x) is a future classic. It’s a nice spot for nursing yourself back to reality or taking in some tourist watching.

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: An outdoor table at Café Gitane (MAP IT, x).

HEALTHY STAPLE: An Choi (MAP IT, x) for a banh mi sandwich.

GUILTY PLEASURE: The chocolate mousse from Café Katja (MAP IT, x).

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: There is still a lot to be discovered and developed in Chinatown.

FIRST THING I MISS WHEN I’M AWAY: The people; you get used to being surrounded by so many consciousnesses. After enough time though, I don’t miss that at all— it’s like an addiction.

REGULAR AT: Almost weekly stops at Mast Books (MAP IT, x)— it’s perfect for gifts and indulgences. Also, tucked below a bodega on Mott Street, Ji Li Tui-Na Center (MAP IT, x) is magic for deep tissue massages.

DATE NIGHT STANDBY: Café Mogador (MAP IT, x) is always good— their menu has something for everybody. I don’t tend to date much in the city though.

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: Just spend a couple hours at Assembly (MAP IT, x)!

TO ESCAPE AND UNWIND: Mexico, Mexico and Mexico. But if it’s got to be local, I’ll go dance at Paul’s Baby Grand (MAP IT, x) or something.

SUMMER GO-TO: I really think the Bronx Zoo (MAP IT, x) is overlooked.

CLOSET CHECK: I am a minimalist and wear a uniform of nearly all black, navy and grey. I love IF in Soho (MAP IT, x) for its ’90s-type selection of Dries Van Noten, Maison Margiela and more. For vintage, I’ll search the racks at Narnia (MAP IT, x) even though it stocks mostly women’s.

BEST HOME DÉCOR: I love a sparse-feeling room with small personal touches or talismans so I find a lot at ABC Home (MAP IT, x) and the local flea markets. Most of my pieces are tokens from my travels though.

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: Any bodega for ice cream and root beer so that you can make everybody dessert.

GROOMING BLACK BOOK: I always compliment people when they say they “haven’t showered,” whatever that means. Personally, I just use Dr. Bronner’s and water.

FIT PICK: Riding my Tokyo bike around the city is epic. I can’t necessarily recommend it as it’s pretty dangerous, but I do love it.

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: Having studio visits with Anna Wintour on cold mornings in my then-basement workspace was beyond surreal and could only happen in this crazy city. CP

Greg’s New York

From L to R: First Row: Doughnut Plant; Inside Dimes; Charcuterie at Cafe Katja; Pieces at Assembly NY. Second Row: Dries Van Noten menswear; Mast Books; Inside Cafe Gitane; Home accents from ABC Carpet & Home.

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