Photography by Trevor Smith

Julien Labat

CEO, Edun

| Tribeca

Step inside Julien Labat’s Tribeca loft and you’ll immediately get a sense that everything in it has a story— from his cheeky, chair-size human hand to the white tassels cascading down the banister to the prominent collection of dogs in porcelain/brass/glass/and you name it. Surely, his European background plays a part in that— the discernibly French Labat only moved from Paris to New York less than two years ago— but we can’t help but see it as some universal sign that he’s in the right business. After all, Labat is the CEO of one of fashion’s most story-driven brands, Edun. The sustainable label— which was originally dreamt up by U2’s Bono and his wife, Ali Hewson— was one of the first to dedicate itself to such a cause, rooting its collections in handiwork by African artists and artisans. As steward, Labat oversees said craftsmen, traveling to Africa to manage existing relationships as well as find new talent to welcome into the Edun family (of course, he also manages the design and production team here in NY). One of his recent coups? An artisanal zipper pull made out of recycled aluminum and requiring one full day of work to make– already a brand signature, it embodies what Edun is all about: marrying the tradition of local craftsmanship with the sustainability. But, like we said, Labat loves a good story… Here, he sits down with CITIPHILE to reveal his little black book on NYC.

COFFEE OR TEA: Coffee. The best cup is always the one made at home in the morning, but besides that, I often wait for my colleagues to bring me one back from their trip to La Colombe on Church Street (MAP IT, x). 

ALL-TIME FAVORITE RESTAURANT: Since even before I lived in New York, Balthazar (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) has been my favorite— specifically, at 8 am for a breakfast of a ham and cheese croissant. It’s not the most discreet spot if you want to avoid fashion industry people however… 

COCKTAIL DE LA NUIT: A whisky sour at Grand Bar at The SoHo Grand (MAP IT, x) on a weekday.

AFTER-WORK HAPPY HOUR: Tribeca definitely needs more bars with great music; for me, nothing has replaced the karaoke night at the Raccoon Lounge on Warren Street since it closed last year. I would love to open my own bar around here! We have a work tradition to go to Tropical (MAP IT, x) for all team celebrations, but I would recommend having a pre-drink before you go…

POWER LUNCH/DINNER: Lunch at Giorgione (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x); dinner at Batard (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x).

WHERE TO BRING OUT-OF-TOWNERS: I would bring them to some great and casual New-York-style Japanese restaurants like EN Japanese Brasserie (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) and Blue Ribbon Sushi (MAP IT, x).

BEST BRUNCH: It’s a classic, but Bubby’s Tribeca (MAP IT, x) is always nice early on Sunday. 

BEST PEOPLE WATCHING: Whole Foods Tribeca (MAP IT).

HEALTHY STAPLE: Sanctuary T (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) for the chopped lacinato kale salad with parmesan.

GUILTY PLEASURE: A pain au chocolat from Arcade Bakery (MAP IT, x) on my way to work.

NY’S BEST-KEPT SECRET: New Jersey.

DELIVERY GO-TO: I’m not a fan of food delivery, but I always make an exception for Emmett’s (MAP IT, x) Chicago-style pizza. 

TO SEE AND BE SEEN: Sant Ambroeus on Lafayette Street (MAP IT, x). 

TO RELAX AND UNWIND: A ferry ride from Wall Street Pier 11 to Greenpoint. 

GO-TO GETAWAY: A summer vacation with friends between The Aquitaine Coast in France and Spain remains number one on my list. A few recommendations in the area: La Corniche Hotel Restaurant (MAP IT, x) at Dune du Pilat for the best breakfast view; Bar Jean at Biarritz (MAP IT, x) for early drinks and tapas; Hôtel du Palais in Biarritz (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x) for a one or two night stay; and a few nights stay in Spain at Aire de Bardenas (MAP IT, BOOK IT, x)!

CLOSET CHECK: Except looking for vintage in the East Village– I always pass by Tokio 7 (MAP IT, x) and, for a good basic, No Relation Vintage (MAP IT, x)– and scouting new collections at Dover Street Market (MAP IT, x), I haven’t found my ultimate NYC shopping spot yet; I continue to shop in Europe mostly— at Dries Van Noten (MAP IT, x) and Le Bon Marché (MAP IT, x) in Paris. 

BEST HOME DÉCOR: I am quite a maniac about decoration: it need to be sharp; mixed, but not too serious. Most of my home is made up of vintage and design furniture (French, Scandinavian and English) that I bought in France before moving here; but I also have great Indian rugs from Heirloom in Williamsburg (MAP IT, x) and I love the thrift stores on 17th Street between 6th and 7th Avenues. 

BEST HOST/HOSTESS GIFTS: I’m very traditional; I only bring wine or champagne. 

FIT PICK: Running along the Hudson River Greenway from my house to Pier 51 in the summer. I do have an Equinox Tribeca (MAP IT, x) membership as well, but they haven’t seen me there for the last 11 months…

ULTIMATE NY MOMENT: I have to admit that we do not have great parades in France like the Mermaid Parade in Coney Island or the Dog-Celebrity-Look-a-Like challenge at Washington Square Park… More seriously though, I have been very supportive and impressed by the recent popular demonstration organized in the city to express opposition and individual opinion. (And, perhaps more entertainingly, I once bumped into Mariah Carey walking out of her apartment clad in a completely Swarovski-embellished gown… it was 3 pm in the afternoon.) CP

Julien’s NY

From L to R: First Row: Coffee at La Colombe; Inside Sant Ambroeus; Le Bon Marche; View from The Grand Bar. Second Row: Brunch at Bubby’s; Footwear at Dover Street Market; Aire Bardenas; Menswear by Dries Van Noten.

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