Photo: AuH2O

Neighborhood: East Village
Type of Place: Women's Clothing

Some things I hope for in a shop: innovation in the merchandise; awareness of environmental and global issues in the manufacturing and packaging; and fair prices. AuH20, named for the elemental abbreviations of owner Kate Goldwater's last name, is a huge success in all these areas and frankly blew me away with its out-of-the-box practices and creative spirit.

There's some straight-up vintage merchandise here, but most of what's offered is repurposed and reconfigured clothing. "Supplies" are donated by fans of the shop; in other words, instead of bringing old t-shirts, skirts, etc. to the Goodwill, where they might (perhaps deservedly) get overlooked and therefore fail to do anything but take up space, contributors drop clothes off for Goldwater and her assistant to use in new creations. And so: groovy new items created, many; textile creation (and waste byproducts from), none. And "boring t-shirts" taken out of the "no one wants this" pile which might end up as trash) and given new life: too many to count.

This unusual means of acquiring materials is reflected in the prices here. "You know that other places would charge way more for this...don't you?" I asked. But then I got too busy checking stuff out to wait for much of an answer. Given the nature and origin of the garments, many are a bit hard to describe, but I'll try: a tank dress with a diamond-patterned knit top in teal, grey, and white, with a brown tiered skirt and a brown, green, and red waistband, $33; a sky blue miniskirt printed with black notes and treble clefs, with a black waistband, $24; a dress made of stitched-together neckties in maroon, navy, and grey, $25; a lush floral cotton dress with white eyelet inserts at the neck and sleeves, $40; and a dress with a hot-pink t-shirt top and a green-and-white-checked skirt, $24.

In addition to the already great prices, there's a sale rack priced $10 and under: I loved a bright pink short-sleeved satin blouse with pink satin piping and a black-and-white checked short-sleeved blouse tucked in at the waist, both $10.

There's also groovy jewelry, like necklaces made from bottle caps ($15) and earrings made from zipper pulls (black, pink, green, red, or blue, $12).

You can bring in clothes that you'd like to have repurposed, and discuss your ideas with the designers; you can pick materials for a garment-to-be from the donation pile; or you can, for free, have something from the stock that has already been made tailored to your taste. (So, if you'd rather the white, red, and black daisy-patterned knit jumpsuit, $18, be a non-jumpsuit, that could happen.)

So much creativity, so little waste (in fact, a reduction of waste), distinctive designs, and a tremendous amount of fun: Goldwater's concept and shop truly shine. Try on, imagine, and enjoy.

  - Pamela Grossman; July 26, 2010

84 E. 7th St.
(1st and 2nd Ave)
New York, NY 10003
(212) 466-0844