Tione Trice is Creating a One-of-a-Kind Shopping Experience for New Yorkers
Behind most of the objects in Tione Trice’s store, Of the Cloth, is a story. Whether it be a museum-quality ceramic or salt and pepper shakers from the 1970s, Trice is looking for something more than just aesthetics. It is, among other things, what has set him apart.
Trice has been collecting since he was a teenager, eventually parlaying this passion into a successful career. What began as a one-month pop-up shop has now become a much-talked-about business. The overwhelming popularity of the Of the Cloth pop-up, many of the items coming from Trice’s own home, led him to open up a brick-and-mortar space. Before moving to his current address at Rockefeller Center, he operated stores in the Fort Greene and Crown Heights neighborhoods of Brooklyn.
When asked what it is about his business that resonates so strongly with people, Trice points to nostalgia: “A lot of times, I do have very rare objects, things that you may only find in museums, and I allow them to be fully lived in in my spaces. But also I think it feels nostalgic… I think it feels like old-school New York.”
In a world of mass production and rampant consumerism, where so much of what we see is the same image across billboards, social media, and our computer screens, it’s refreshing to find a place where each object is completely unique. Instead of clean lines and millennial pink ceramics, shoppers will find things like a mid-century piggy bank, an antique tortoise stool originally from the Ivory Coast, and a Sudanese Dinka Headrest. There are objects with hundred-year histories, quirks of form, and a one-of-a-kind spirit.
For Trice, there is more than just aesthetic sensibility that goes into acquiring and selling these items. “It’s based off some sort of emotional or spiritual connection to the object or maker,” he explains of his discernment. And there is also the question of functionality. “Function is very important to me,” he says. “There are very few items in the shop that can’t be used for a purpose.” Whether this be an antique chair or a ceramic vase, there is an overarching feel to much of what Trice collects.
“I think vibe is what Tione possesses,” says longtime collaborator Jennifer Kraemer. “It’s hard — you don’t want to just say someone has a vibe, but it's something that still feels familiar or you want to make feel familiar.”
The store itself represents this vibe, and for Trice, landing at Rockefeller Center was a particularly important step for his business. As a setting, Rockefeller Center appealed to him on many levels. He is aiming for a different kind of shopping experience, something reminiscent of old New York, of days gone by, bringing it back to his love of nostalgia. “That's why I collect this stuff, and that’s why I’m in this business,” Trice explains of his wistful tendencies. “So being part of Rockefeller Center gives me that nostalgia.” Beyond the iconic setting of his new storefront, Trice has been amazed by the constant stream of visitors. Clients from Crown Heights to Connecticut have made the trip to see his new digs. “This seems, maybe, to be an easier destination for many of them than coming into Brooklyn,” he says.
In the store itself, there is nothing precious about the set-up — stools are stacked on top of benches, items are scattered across a central tabletop — and yet it has that transcendent, timeless quality. “I just kind of moved through the space and thought of different moments and emotions that I wanted people to experience as they walked past each section,” Trice explains. The result is a feeling similar to walking into a friend’s home, one that is stylish and intriguing, but livable and cozy. “There’s obviously an educated eye,” Kraemer says of Trice’s design sensibilities, “but there’s not a lot of affectation and pretense.”
Whether you’re seeking that special statement piece, design inspiration, or the unexpected, there is something to be discovered at Of the Cloth. With a mix of nostalgia, a keen eye, and an emphasis on authenticity, Trice delivers a slice of old New York to both locals and visitors.
Of the Cloth is open at 1250 6th Avenue from Wednesday to Saturday, 11am to 8pm, and on Sunday from 11am to 6pm. The store is closed on Mondays and Tuesdays.