The Makers: Unis

Welcome to the second installment of the Makers Series. Over the next four weeks, I’ll be taking you inside the workspaces of some of my favorite brands. Kicking things off, a visit to New York’s Unis.

“I want them to know there’s a person behind this stuff.”

Eunice Lee, founder of Unis, doesn’t mince words. She doesn’t have time to. From sourcing, to production, to her store, to wholesale, there’s not a single facet of her business she doesn’t have a finger in – and most she handles entirely on her own. On the day we met, she had spent the better part of her morning on the phone, dealing with several of her stockists, all of whom were late on their payments. When I asked why she didn’t have a showroom, or some take-no-prisoners rep to handle that, she replied, “because I want those stores to know who they’re hurting. I want them to know there’s a person behind this stuff. And that by not paying, they’re directly affecting me and the people who make my clothes.” Her sincerity was palpable.

“It’s taken years for me to build the relationships I have now,” she says. “My fabric supplier in Italy, for instance. When I first started buying from them, they didn’t know who I was. They supply a ton of brands. But now, they know me. They know I come back every year, and that I’m loyal. They’ve actually started to take an interest in my line.” It’s clear that she values the relationship. The same as she does her relationships with her pattern-makers, her sewers, her factory owners. For Lee, the last ten years haven’t just been about building and sustaining a brand, they’ve also been about building and sustaining meaningful connections. And it’s because of those connections that she’s able to make a product she’s proud to put her name on.

When it comes to her clothes, Lee has one goal: for you to love them. “I want to make stuff guys get excited about wearing. Because it fits well. Because it’s super well-made. Because it makes them feel good to have on. The stuff they want to wear more than anything else. I want to make their favorite pieces.” Buying something of hers, wearing it until it dies, and then buying it again is the best compliment her clothes can receive. It means that you’ve made a personal connection. That the garment isn’t just another item in your closet, it’s a piece you actually care about. Just as she has forged a relationship with the women who sew her shirts, she wants you to forge a relationship with the shirt itself.

“Some friends of mine were biking across the country, and stopped by my place along the way,” she tells me. “Some of their laundry got mixed in with mine while they where there. And so, I’m doing the laundry, and I pull this perfectly worn-in vintage t-shirt from the dryer, and I’m looking at it thinking, ‘wow this is great,’ and suddenly I realize that it’s a Unis shirt. My friend had been wearing it for a few years. It looked amazing. Like a perfect vintage piece. It made me really excited.” Once again, her sincerity is palpable. And in that moment, it makes perfect sense to me that she would handle her own delinquent accounts. Lee speaks on her own behalf, and on behalf of her suppliers and makers, better than anyone else ever could.

Some soon-to-be-someone’s-favorite tops and bottoms.

A display showcasing several of the non-Unis products carried in the store.

Items include BILLYKIRK belts, Left Field sweats, and US-made Turks-head bracelets.

Lee discussing her brand.

A rainbow of Gios. I wanted every pair.

US-made monkey fist key chains.

Unis’ AW11 collection will be online shortly. In the meantime, you can still pick-up a number of items from her exceptional S11 collection either in person or from her online store.

  • AJJB

    truly beautiful people make truly beautiful things.

    • Brad

      I couldn’t agree more.

  • Cory

    Her work ethic, sincerity, and creativity are admirable. I’ve probably read every article about her that I have found. I do think that at some point, she will need to at least delegate some duties; there’s no need to do EVERYTHING herself. Eventually, that will stifle her growth.

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  • Ryan

    I always expect so much out this brand then find im really disappointed with the fit of there product.

  • Spencer

    Really Ryan? Gio pants fit great and if you’re not looking for something too slim the Logan looks good on just about any body. And to me the Felix is the best fitting shirt on the market. Props to Unis for getting it right!

  • Ryan

    I personally think the price points are off on most of the clothing they sell. The stuff is fitted but kinda sloppy. I personally dont think there clothing is any better fitting then a club monaco or j crew. While you try on something like a BoO or a thom browne and you can feel the difference in fit. The darting, the high arm holes, little extras that cost more but add to the fit. Unis i think lacks these qualities but still chargers buyers for these details.

  • Ken

    UNIS’s price point is lower than Thom Browne’s and BoO’s though, isn’t it? I bought a number of things from UNIS when I lived in NY from ’03 to ’07. Much of the stuff then was made in Italy. The stuff is reasonably priced for the quality of the fabric and the fact that it’s all made in the US. They’re also made in small runs so it’s not really fair to compare UNIS with either Club Monaco/J Crew (at the bottom end), or BoO and Thom Browne (at the high end). I have a double-breasted moleskin coat from five years ago that is the most comfortable, versatile piece of outerwear I own. I wore it so much that I’ve had to patch the holes in the coat lining twice; got all beat-up because the buttons on my jeans kept rubbing against it. But I’ll wear it till it falls apart.


    RYAN –

    Their for f’s sake, their.