Q&A | Forty Five Ten
Forty Five Ten is the mega-retailer merging fashion and art, enticing the unconventional and eclectic shopper. The Dallas-based brand has grown exponentially since it was founded in 2000. With seven locations under its umbrella, Forty Five Ten has made headway towards global expansion with the opening of it’s 16,000 square foot Hudson Yards layout. Located on the fifth floor, the Headington acquired brand operates with five storefronts for each particular category including Women’s Designer, Men’s Designer, Vintage, Accessories Salon, and 4510/SIX. While e-commerce dominates today’s tech-savvy society, retailers like Forty Five Ten are successfully forging experience-based shopping. Fostering global luxury and emerging talent, the concept retailer aims to intersect art, design, and fashion with the help of newly appointed President and Creative Director, Kristen Cole. We spoke with Kristen to discuss the growth of the company, core brand concepts, and Hudson Yards location.
Explain the evolution of Forty Five Ten since you were appointed President and Chief Creative Officer in 2018.
I was hired to lead Forty Five Ten into its next iteration as a national, and eventual international brand. Through my creative and aesthetic vision for the company, we have refined and evolved the design of the stores, the fashion direction and the creative direction of our visual brand look. I wanted to elevate and expand on the amazing foundation that Forty Five Ten has built over 20 years in Dallas. My vision for the company is for Forty Five Ten to be an industry leader in terms of our concept and approach to highly experiential, multi-faceted retail. With the addition of our New York store, I think Forty Five Ten will become the go-to for customers looking for a strong fashion edit across luxury and emerging, and for those interested in the experiential intersection of fashion, design, and art.
Beginning in Dallas, the company has since grown to seven brick-and-mortar locations. Why did the Headington Companies group decide on the New York location at Hudson Yards?
Yes, we now have seven total stores in Dallas, Aspen, Napa, Miami, and New York. We also have a new e-commerce site. Headington Companies recognized the potential for the Hudson Yards project early on in terms of its critical mass of shops, restaurants, residences and cultural initiatives. We love that Hudson Yards is adjacent to Chelsea, one of the most vibrant art areas in Manhattan, in terms of galleries and institutions, and that the High Line spills into Hudson Yards. We also knew our close adjacencies to the many destination restaurants sharing level 5 with us at The Shops at Hudson Yards would be great for traffic – there are new concepts by David Chang and Thomas Keller, and a Milos and Bouchon Bakery.
Over 16,000 square feet, the New York-based retailer has a storefront dedicated to each particular category including Women’s Designer, Men’s Designer, Vintage, Accessories Salon, and 4510/SIX. What ideas conceptualized the planning of this space?
The lease we signed really informed the concept. We have five different spaces spread throughout one floor, each one with a distinct vision and edit. They hopefully feel connected, but also different in an exciting way. If someone is going to shop brick-and-mortar these days over online shopping, we want to provide them with a layered, welcoming and inspiring experience.
Tell us about the sculptural storefronts designed in collaboration with Snarkitecture.
We chose Snarkitecture to design our store façades for the obvious reason that we wanted something unique, place-making and modern. There was a natural connection since my husband, Joe Cole, had already worked with Daniel Arsham and his studio on a public art commission for Headington Companies in Dallas’ Design District. We love the glass brick façade and how the design connects the spaces—it’s such a fresh take on conventional glass blocks.
In merging luxury fashion and art, Forty Five Ten inspires the unconventional and eclectic. How would you describe the visually refined aesthetic of the company?
I love presenting fashion in and around art- I’m drawn to that intersection. We work with many artists in terms of collaboration, exhibition, and collecting. My approach to our photography and campaign concepts has been to shoot our favorite pieces each season in our art world; at collector’s homes, galleries, exhibition spaces… anywhere we can have a conversation around fashion and art. Forty Five Ten has a collection of contemporary art that rotates through our stores from Catherine Opie, Tracey Emin, Jose Davila, Juergen Teller, Katherine Bernhardt, among others; and are currently showing works by Al Freeman, Greg Bogin, and Lars Fisk. We are often dressing collectors, artists, and people working in the art world. I love to create those inspiring surprise moments. I hope to inspire and empower through our approach to retail—it’s a little bit escapist and a place to discover.
Describe your relationship with the Whitney Museum of American Art and the ongoing collaborations like the capsule collection with artist Caitlin Keogh.
We sponsored this year’s Whitney Art Party because we are true fans of the museum and their programming. The young art patron crowd that attends that party is very much our target demographic. As a result of the sponsorship, I co-chaired the event with Micaela Erlanger and Michael Carl. The Whitney chose artist Caitlin Keough to create an artwork for auction. I met with her and developed an idea to collaborate on a fashion item that could tie back to the piece and benefit the museum. “Lines in a nymph’s body” t-shirts, and the painting that inspired it will launch, in-store at Forty Five Ten in New York and Dallas on May 1st. To set us apart in terms of truly unique artist collaborations, we will continue to identify the right moments to launch products and capsule collections. We have Katherine Bernhardt exclusive ceramics collection in store now, and others in the works.
Experimental and unconventional brands represent the majority of designers in Forty Five Ten. How does the brand support and foster emerging creatives?
My passion really revolves around emerging talent and intellectual fashion, it always has. I enjoy conceptual pieces, conceptual art, and love to see raw and emerging talent- whenever I have that opportunity. Forty Five Ten anchors the new and experimental talent with our luxury and advanced European designers like Prada, Dries Van Noten, Balenciaga, Maison Margiela, Comme des Garcons, Jil Sander, The Row… among others. The mix in our curation of designers and our edit allows for discovery for our luxury clientele and elevation for our newer lines. The synergies are amazing, and our client cross-shops, mixes and discovers, which is exactly what we hope to promote. Right now, some of our standout lines in the emerging sector are Y/Project, Ellery, Marine Serre, Lemaire, Sacai, Alyx, Area, Saks Potts, A.W.A.K.E. Mode, Priscavera and Sandy Liang.
Photography by: Max Burkhalter