For Salie 66, founded in 2021 by New York art dealer James Shalom and his father, Elliot Shalom, a wholesale manufacturer with more than 40 years of experience in the fashion industry, it’s about just doing what comes naturally.
“When I started, I knew that we weren’t going to be able to compete on the same [level as other fashion brands], shooting the same people and doing the same routine,” James Shalom, 30, told me last month.
So instead of chasing big-name celebrities or one-off collaborations, Shalom focuses on what interests him, which is a little bit of mystery—“We don’t want to spell everything out to everyone”—and the highest quality. “We started thinking about product six months before there was a concept of a brand or an identity,” he said.
The ready-to-wear offerings, which includes both men’s and women’s pieces, is composed of sophisticated staples in classic silhouettes and made with high-quality fabrics produced in family-owned mills in Italy’s Veneto region. The pared-back minimalism works: long-sleeved cashmere polos and merino quarter-zip mock-neck sweaters are done in perfect tones, such as classic navy and cherry red. It feels like the stuff of an actual wardrobe—the crisp cotton button-ups with mother-of-pearl buttons and cotton-moleskin pants are everyday essentials, not single-season one-offs.
The pressure to expand and grow at an accelerated clip looms large but isn’t pressing. “We’re a tiny team,” Shalom said, “so we’re taking it slow.”
The way Salie 66 shows up in the world is what sets it apart. The company’s campaigns have featured the musician Richard Hell in his tenement-apartment building; the writer and filmmaker Chris Kraus leaning out of a 1951 Chevy Styleline, shot by Reynaldo Rivera; and the actress Coco Gordon Moore. “It felt natural to have dialogues with these people,” Shalom said of the artists of all ages and disciplines represented in the campaigns. As to how they manage to enlist someone like Hell or Kraus, Shalom said, “We reach out and just invite them up.”
The company’s approach to retail is more personal, too. Its by-appointment showroom, a neoclassical town house on East 66th Street, makes you feel like you’re shopping in a beautiful apartment. It will also do pop-ups once in a while, the most recent one having taken place in a former art-gallery space on Gansevoort Street. “We didn’t do much marketing,” Shalom said. “It was word of mouth.” He likes the element of discovery: “We want to provide a great experience and product for people so they will send their friends.”
Salie 66 feels glamorous, like it belongs in an older world but has just enough of a modern touch to also be new and exciting. It’s a challenging space to occupy, but Shalom isn’t concerned. For now, he’s making what he wants to make and letting the world come to him. “I’m trying to do something I want to see,” he said.
Chris Black is the founder of Done to Death Projects and the co-host of the podcast How Long Gone. He lives in Los Angeles and New York