We are thrilled to introduce you to Althea Simons who is the Founder of Grammar NYC in this Q&A interview! We met Althea last year when we hosted an event together in the Hamptons, and immediately fell in love with her collection. We have multiple Grammar NYC dresses in our wardrobes, and find ourselves turning to them again and again. *Scroll to the bottom for a shoppable selection of our favorite Grammar NYC styles!
What led you to start Grammar NYC?
There was a fire at my apartment building in 2016, and I lost all my belongings. I had to replace my carefully-curated wardrobe pretty quickly. One of the first things I needed first was a white button down shirt––an essential in my book––but I couldn’t find one that suited my needs. I discovered a hole in the market for a brand that focuses on high quality, well tailored white shirts that fit a woman’s body and lifestyle. I’ve always been focused on sustainability in my personal life, so I wanted to bring that to the brand as well.
How did your experience with the fire change your perspective on life?
When you go through something like that, it really makes you think about how you’re living your life. I was like: “Ok, I’m 31. What do I really want to do?” I had always dreamed of starting my own sustainable fashion brand. The fire was the catalyst, the push I needed to get started. It gave me a clean slate to decide what I really wanted and needed in my life, and that perspective extended outward from belongings to career to relationships to experiences, and so on.
Tell us about the pieces featured in your collection! We love that you’re on a mission to create foundational elements of a modern minimalist wardrobe.
I started the brand with a curated collection of five white shirts. This included what I consider to be the perfect, basic women’s fitted shirt, The Verb Shirt, and more stylized iterations including The Split Infinitive Shirt and The Conjunction Shirt. This season we’ve really expanded the collection to include full wardrobing options including The Perfect Pant and The Portmanteau Jacket, two styles I really love. We also have more fabrications than ever before, fun new colors and two new stripes!
Tell us about the cotton you use – we LOVE it!
Before I started GRAMMAR, I spent about eight months searching for the perfect organic cotton poplin. It is lightweight yet opaque, structured yet soft, very high quality and most importantly organic. I was not finding the quality I wanted in organic cotton at the time, so I worked with a mill in India to develop this fabric specially for us in organic cotton.
We are so happy to hear that your styles are made in NYC. Why was this important to you?
The Garment District is such a special, vital resource for designers and makers in NYC. I think it’s so important to support local small businesses in general, and in particular the excellent local artisans and craftspeople and women-and minority-owned businesses of the Garment District. I love having relationships with the people who make our clothes; I find it so rewarding. Working locally allows us to produce in small batches, and make sure that everything is made at an extremely high quality.
You have such a sharp price point for the quality and made in NYC! What was important to you when setting your prices?
Thank you! It’s definitely difficult to keep our prices where they are, but I think it’s important that our signature poplin styles be more accessible. I design them to be your favorite items in your closet, best friends you reach for time and again to help you feel confident and embodied. To the extent possible, I want more people to experience the joy and freedom that these pieces offer.
Any advice for entrepreneurs?
Solicit feedback, but ultimately rely more on your intuition. You know what’s best for you and your company, so don’t listen to other people too much. Be persistent: if there’s something you believe in, keep pursuing it. Be ready for a roller coaster of emotions: being an entrepreneur is like getting a PhD in yourself, so take care of your physical, mental and emotional wellbeing.
Will you tell us about the decision to name the brand Grammar and why all the names of the products are a grammatical term?
The idea came from The Elements of Style, by Strunk and White. The simplest way to explain it is: as grammar is the foundation of language, GRAMMAR is the foundation of your wardrobe. The idea for the product names followed from there.
What’s next for you?
We recently moved into our new Studio space in Chelsea on 26th street. We really want to encourage people to come into the studio to get to know us and immerse themselves in the brand. I’m loving all the opportunities the space brings to build our community here in New York and create an atmosphere for us and the clothes. We’ve had a couple of events already and are looking forward to more in the future, perhaps with The Style That Binds Us!
Where can people find you?
We would love to welcome people to our Chelsea studio, which is open to the public by appointment via email to firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also find us on our website grammarnyc.com and our Instagram @grammarnyc.
Discover our favorite Grammar styles:
Alison + Delia