After building a career as a curator in L.A., Greg Armas turned his discerning eye to fashion, opening Scout in Los Angeles with partner Joey Grana. Last year, he set out on his own to launch Assembly on the Lower East Side, a well-edited stash of menswear, womenswear, accessories, and limited-edition collaborations. This summer, he debuted his own menswear line, offering slouchy Italian linen blazers, cashmere backpacks, fitted button-downs, and handworked knits for fall. We caught up with Armas to talk about design collaborations, antique hunting, and why no New York woman should leave home without a pair of shades.
What prompted the move east?
There’s a very different sense of style in New York. In New York, people are more conscious of fabrics and the work that goes into garments. L.A. is a jeans and T-shirt kind of culture.
Is there a certain aesthetic you’re looking for when you buy for the store?
I’m drawn to handmade garments, and fabric is very important. I don’t sell cheap clothes, so if I’m selling a $400 sweater it needs to look and feel like a $400 sweater in terms of construction.
What kind of person shops at Assembly?
They’re very international, well-informed shoppers — they know what else is out there.
Why did you launch your own collection?
There were certain staples that I was hunting for every season: a slim, pleated pant, a linen blazer, a fitted button-down shirt. At a certain point, it just made sense to make those items myself instead of tracking them down from other designers.
Who are your favorite designers?
Dries Van Noten and Ann Demeulemeester. They’re the king and queen.
What’s the first designer item you bought?
I do remember taking a pair of Sears jeans when I was young and sanding and bleaching them myself to alter the wash. That was the first time I remember really experimenting with fashion. As far as labels go, my first item was probably a used Gucci sweater.
Where do you like to shop in New York?
I go to the market at the Annex over the weekend for antiques. It’s like a little piece of Paris. Also, Houndstooth, a vintage store in Brooklyn.
How would you describe your style?
I wear a lot of black — though I’m wearing my “summer blacks” now because it’s so hot. I tend to look a bit more serious; I don’t really dress with irony.
What trends are you appreciating right now?
I’m liking the different lengths in menswear, the rolled-up pants and sleeves. I don’t like tight cuffs around my wrists or ankles, so I usually roll them anyway.
Any trends you’re hating?
In general, when people disregard their own body types. A girl will put on a little baby-doll dress when really it’s not right for her; she should have a defined waistline. Likewise, a lot of men dress without regard for their height or stature. I have a great respect for Rick Owens, but a lot of men are dressing like they rolled out of bed and put on their girlfriends’ clothes: super-skinny jeans paired with drapey, loose tops.
What one item should every man have in his closet?
A nice leather wallet.
And every woman?
A pair of sunglasses. Sunglasses seem important for women in New York; maybe it has something to do with the six-to-one girl-to-guy ratio. I just feel like girls are prowled on so hard here that sunglasses can provide a kind of deterrence.