Heroin hot…cocaine cool…tapeworms titillating? When ingested, absolutely not, but when worn as a funky fashion statement, the answer is most definitely! Just ask the creative team of American Apothecary, they are pushing eco-friendly clothing in the hopes that we will all begin to “take a closer look.”
American Apothecary is the hottest new fashion label I have seen in a long time – true NYC originals. The company consists of a line of T-shirts that brandish nifty recreations of ads for turn of the century remedies that are now illicit. Imagine using cigarettes for asthma, almost as asinine as giving a patient Demerol for a migraine. American Apothecary creative team consists of Co-Presidents Jeremy Sziklay and Matthew Kronenberg, Head Designer Anastasia Fokina and PR Director John Thompson II. As I shared a glass of wine with them at their showroom on West 36th Street, it became apparent that these fashion mavericks seem more like a family instead of a company, a sort of new millennium Yours, Mines and Ours. Each of them chose a different path to arrive at this destination, so how did this cutting-edge T-shirt company come to be?
Oddly enough the seed for American Apothecary was planted in college. “I was a Psychology minor in college. These products were being used in the early 1900s and late 1800s so through psychology [I] started learning about the first things prescribed to people in the United States. So that idea kind of permeated in my mind,” Jeremy states. After college Jeremy attended law school and began working in the D. A. prosecutor’s office, next door was the narcotics department. Jeremy began to learn that the majority of cases involving drug addiction were coming from prescriptions drugs such as oxycontin and vicodin. It was then that the connection was made. “It’s amazing,” Jeremy remarks, “we’re peddling heroin, cocaine and chloroform a hundred years ago and now we’re peddling oxycontin, hydrocodone and ritalin.” After leaving the District Attorney’s office, Jeremy decided to use the fashion industry as the vehicle to make a statement about the way business is done today while educating the consumer. “So much of fashion is just superficial,” he adds, “I wanted to create fashion with a purpose, to create a conversation.”
Jeremy enlisted the talents of Anastasia Fokina to bring his vision to life. Anastasia has a background in the arts and has owned a gallery in Provincetown, MA. She credits her artistic roots in assisting her with manufacturing the company’s innovative aesthetic. “I think every designer should have some kind of arts education so they can know how to express ideas. When designing you really have to listen to what people want, you have to fulfill someone’s vision with your capability.”
Matthew Kronenberg was in real estate development before becoming a part of this new enterprise. Like most Americans, Matthew fell victim to The Great Recession and was laid off, but as the real estate door closed, a fashion window opened. “I wasn’t really happy with what I was doing anyway. About a month after I was laid off Jeremy came to me with this idea and I was like it sounds amazing. I know and have met a lot of people who’ve had problems with prescription drugs and so it did hit home. It hit home for me personally because I had a bunch of different surgeries from sports injuries and anytime I’ve been prescribed any kind of pain killer I didn’t take it, but being that I had these bottles with all these pills my friends were coming up to me asking if they could have them and I was like they were prescribed to me so chill out,” he explains, “and the idea in general was so amazing just because it was a great way to portray what we we’re trying to get across.”
John Thompson II was well on his way to building a stellar career in fashion PR before coming to American Apothecary. “Initially I came in to assist with the PR department, “he says. John was initially intrigued with the young creative fashion start-up, but, “What really sold me on the company was the box the shirts come in,” he continues, “if that creative energy was placed into a box, what else could be accomplished. And since then my hunch has paid off, everything you see [Anastasia] creates. Being in the fashion industry I have seen a lot, and a lot what she creates I have never seen before.”
Yes, a T-shirt featuring a bottle of heroin or cocaine tooth drops is very provocative, shocking even, but their eye-catching designs are one of the reasons American Apothecary is a label to watch. The other is the quality and details that goes into their product. After all, fashion is about the clothes. American Apothecary uses 100% pima cotton. The box the shirts are packaged in is a witty piece of art constructed from recycled paper; one could definitely find a use for it after taking it home. The shirts are soft and well-made; the European cut is form-fitting and accentuates the frame. The lesson behind the T-shirts is probably the most stimulating aspect of this new fashion line – inspiring Americans to educate themselves and become more cognizant about the products they consume. Best of all, 10% of their profits are given to drug outreach programs; hence, they put their money where their mouths are.
What we wear is a visual testament of our individuality, mood and beliefs. One look at a person when they enter a room can sometimes tell more about them than any words that fly from their lips. American Apothecary is perfect for the male/female consumer that craves quality clothing and loves to make a bold declaration. This year, stuff your fashion addict’s stocking with opium (T-shirt that is); I’m positive they will make it a staple in their wardrobe. Coming soon from American Apothecary…heroin on a chain, so stay tuned FAMERs.
To learn more about American Apothecary, visit www.a-apothecary.com/.
“External resource for help with Vicodin addiction: http://www.michaelshouse.com/vicodin-addiction/5-symptoms/“
Photos courtesy of John Thompson II