The Eight Senses: Chic, Minimal, Multipurpose

Last year, I reticently gave up a big down coat that had molted to a point of leaving a trail of feathers in its wake. In search of a new one with some distinction, I chanced upon a Pop-Up store called The Eight Senses, a label with which I was unfamiliar, and purchased a replacement on the spot. The new one boasts a (hidden) horizontal zipper that facilitates wearing it as a jacket as well as a coat. Its removed piece becomes, should one wish, a shawl/cape. The coat is deep pocketed and seriously warm. Several weeks ago, Eight Senses opened its very first store at 414 West Broadway. I visited the new venue, speaking with CEO Michael Durbin and Chief Creative Officer/Designer N Baranes.

The Shop

The store is spare, contemporary design with an organic feel. Only one sample piece per model is displayed. Staff is young and personable. A monochromatic Autumn I line is available in black, grey, taupe, and dark teal with a few of spots of color. Having been mothered by a company that manufactures private label apparel, The Eight Senses is astonishingly vertical. Durbin tells me their plan is to grow slowly (for optimum quality and experiential control) while offering new designs every two months. Best sellers will achieve tenure. He calls this “evolutionary sampling.”

Left: Touch Scarf– Extra long Cupro scarf with pockets at the ends. In sand, grey, indigo, and purple $158.00. Right: Drape & Go Blouse in red, slate, or black silk $288.00; Drape & Go Dress $398.00

Overall aesthetic is sophisticated; visually minimal, high style and rather modest (covered up)- blank canvases for artful accessories. Pockets abound- multiple hidden ones often occupy a single garment. Though the few pants offer zippers, closure for the most part is achieved with hidden magnets, rather than obtrusive buttons or unsightly snaps. Tailoring is masterful. Fabrics feel luxe even when synthetic. Silhouettes skim the body or are purposefully voluminous; nothing clings. Several pieces have the kind of ¾ sleeves popular in the 1950s which, in my opinion, appear awkward. N suggests clients like to layer. (The line offers several long sleeves tees.)

Left: Cape Escape– reversible black/camel wool/cashmere $698.00. Right: High Collar Wool Coat– wool/alpaca $828.00 both arriving in November

Apparel  from The Eight Senses is often multi-purpose and/or transforms. Many vests can be worn as dresses, dresses as coats. There are reversible pieces- a long grey and black vest offers 4 different looks, and those that morph into alternative silhouettes. One dress has a buttoned silk front and ponte knit back, the former for professional presentation, the latter eschewing wrinkles and providing comfort. A number of Puffer coats BECOME lightweight bags, eminently useful when weather turns warm, travel provides less storage space, or one is walking around inside. Perhaps N has a background in origami.

Other pieces of particular interest include Sheer Elegance, a fluid, forgiving, chiffon-looking black blouse $248.00, over a soft jersey camisole $68.00; The Gallery Vest– an extremely elegant, ankle length, sleeveless garment that masquerades as a dress or partly cover skinny pants; and Top It– an open fronted skirt for polishing the appearance of leggings.

New Blanket Puffer Coat

Durbin tells me it takes 4 days to make The New Blanket Puffer above (a second iteration.) This iconoclastic outerwear is terrific looking and extremely light on the body. A 90%/10% white duck down content allows the company to find and eliminate feather impurities. Closure is accomplished by hidden magnets. There are double, angled outer pockets- one set fleece lined for warmth, the other for storage. Disparate interior pockets are sized to carry anything from a laptop to your phone. About 8” of under-sleeve is made of heavy knit to keep out cold. The left has a window of clear, soft plastic that will show your watch without exposing an arm, the right holds a small lipstick mirror. Pragmatism wrestles with novelty.

Perhaps the most original facet is that an inner, zipped-up bib can be taken out should it be somewhat less cold. When removed, it becomes a collared scarf with long tails that can be worn with another coat or, having checked this one at a venue, left around the neck for interior chill.  Clever. In taupe or black. $728.00

Biker Puffer Coat- grey or sand $368.00- turns into bag

The Eight Senses has an appealing philosophy explaining its name:

Intuitive . Purposeful . Beautiful
Looking for the meaning; to inspire a better life
Listening to the need; for ergonomic styles
Touching the details; to enrich the experience
Smelling the opportunity; to make the simple – special
Tasting everyday life; and aspiring to sweeten it it
Guided by intuition; celebrating complementary contradictions
Using our common sense; to create practical solutions
And finally, adding some wit to the formula
To make sense

“Once we tick off the check list,” N tells me, “We know we’re doing well.”

Opening Photo: Dressed for the Occasion can be transfigured any number of ways by utilizing its train. This is a single garment! Black $468.00

Photos Courtesy of The Eight Senses