It’s Emma Snape’s downtown now

One morning in March, Emma Rogue jumped into the black Nissan Rogue she shares with her brother and pulled out of a parking space in front of her vintage boutique on the Lower East Side, Thugand set his Waze for the Goodwill in South Hackensack, NJ

She had recently updated the voice over Christina Aguilera’s app. As she drove down Allen Street, it sounded: “Red light camera signaled ahead of us – they’re trying to make us dirrrrrrty.”

Half an hour later she arrived. Dressed in an orange Nike/Supreme SB Air Force 2 collaboration and baggy jeans, she nodded to shopping pals as she walked in, pulled her hair up in a ponytail and got to work rummaging through chaotic bins of clothes. It was the start of a full day of digging through northern New Jersey to stock up on inventory for his store, which will celebrate its first anniversary next month.

In a short time, Rogue has become one of New York’s biggest and most unpredictable new retail ventures. It’s the place where famous TikToks liquidate their closets, where daring young clothing designers hold pop-up shows and events, and where neatly mismatched people find their iconic clothes. Every weekend, Rogue hosts at least one event, building a community one baby t-shirt or pair of rave pants at a time, resulting in a curious, vibrant, eclectic and chaotic energy never before seen in downtown retail. -town since the VFiles era in the mid-2010s.

“Rogue is bigger than vintage,” she said later that afternoon, over chicken and cornbread at one of her favorite restaurants, Boston Market. “Yes, vintage is where we started. But my vision for that now is that we’re empowering the next generation of creatives. We’re the stepping stone to who’s next. Whoever we stock in our store, they have the valid check, you know?”

Refreshingly, there is no dominant style in Rogue’s group of fashion fanatics. Its wider community is less attached to specific aesthetics, eras, silhouettes or ideologies. Many of the more adventurous dressers boldly mix styles, fabrics, time periods and shapes, less bound by subcultural identification and more comfortable with fluidity.

“People are starting to dress in ways that make them happy or express different parts of themselves in one outfit,” said Clara Perlmutter, aka @tinyjewishgirl, one of the most idiosyncratic trainers on TikTok. She was speaking as she greeted fans at a closet sale she hosted at Rogue on a chilling Sunday in late February, likening the current style moment to the hybrid nature of post-internet art: “It’ is almost like collage, and you are the canvas.”

Ms. Snape’s own style is approachably excessive, a fun take on the year 2000. Often, she wears at least one oversized garment and often wears gargantuan boots. (She has a specific dealer for those.) She dyes hair bands and leans into theatrical eye makeup.

After about an hour in the Goodwill bins, Ms Snape, 26, headed to a nearby warehouse-sized thrift shop. In just half an hour, she pulled out a number of flashy items: a pair of half-black, half-leopard jeans; a patchwork denim maxi skirt, a black top with a gold logo from Ed Hardy’s lingerie line, a t-shirt from Avril Lavigne’s defunct Abbey Dawn line; a probably flammable white mesh turtleneck scalloped with motivational phrases (“Choose Happy”, “Make Yourself Proud”); a pair of richly faded baggy jeans three or four paces after True Religion’s recent revival.

Bella McFadden, aka internet girlwho rose to prominence as a Depop seller in the late 2010s and now has his own brand, iGirlmet Ms. Snape a few years ago while working at Depop and watched her fall apart on her own.

“It definitely taps into the revival of the 2000s, very nostalgic,” Ms. McFadden said. “A lot of her pieces are things we would wear as kids. Right now we’re leaning more into the 2010s, and Emma definitely draws from that too.

Ms. Rogue, née Emma Rodelius, grew up in New Jersey, first in Jersey City and later in the sleepy township of Bedminster. Both of his parents worked in real estate. In high school, she focused on science, hoping to one day become a plastic surgeon.

But by the time she arrived at New York University in 2014, she was ready to break free from her sheltered small-town experience. “I don’t think I realized how outgoing I was until I came to NYU,” she said. Eventually, she came across a group of skateboarders who introduced her to Supreme and other streetwear – her education in fashion.

When she graduated in 2017, she hadn’t quite landed on her personal style yet. But in early 2018, she started selling items she had saved on Depop. Later that year, she worked as a Depop store manager in NoLIta, where she watched how her items sold in real time and began to expand her offerings beyond the Y2K items she personally enjoyed.

“Even if I wouldn’t wear it, if I could imagine someone else wearing it and looking like a bombshell walking down the street in New York, I’d get it,” she said. .

In the summer of 2019, Danielle Greco, who was Depop’s content manager at the time, put Ms. Rogue on camera to host content for a collaborative Depop/VFiles track event. “She had this formula where she could teach other kids,” Ms Greco said. “She had the know-how, and she spoke at their level. She is accessible, passionate, friendly and she has style.

That year Rogue was also becoming a regular at New York street fairs, with a carefully curated mix of styles. It was at one of these fairs in Bushwick that Brian Procell, the craftsman of the downtown vintage vendors, first met her.

“She offered a mix of brands for people her age, but also appealed to critical New Yorkers like me,” said Mr. Procell, who is one of Ms. Rogue’s main inspirations. (She regularly wears the chiffon Air Force 1s he launched with Nike in 2019.)

“She will have the Westwood, Rick Owens and also the Mandee meets Wet Seal, then she will have the No Limit, Ecko Unltd. — all of those things merged,” Mr. Procell continued. “But it’s its specific presentation that sets it apart and the ability to bring it to the TikTok generation.”

Social media has played a crucial role in Ms. Snape’s rise from selling a few dozen articles a week on Depop to being on the downtown agenda. At the start of the pandemic, she began filming TikTok videos in which she meticulously packed people’s orders. There was something soothing about seeing the sometimes chaotic clothes sent methodically and lovingly to new homes.

Although Ms. Rogue has hired a sales staff and has social media help, most of her operation remains a one-man show. While rummaging through shelves in New Jersey, she was pulled to approve social media content to be posted and sent a call about a stylist making an unannounced visit to pull items for a TV show. television. Additionally, she posted photos of the items she purchased on her Instagram Story, polling her followers about their likes and dislikes.

“It’s like an agency that has an internal department for all these things,” Mr. Procell said, “but that’s just her.”

Its turnaround time from deciding to find a physical location to the day the store opened was about two months. “It’s amazing how bold she is, the fact that she thought of opening a brick and mortar,” Ms McFadden said. “I was like, ‘Why would you do this when it’s all happening online?’ But after seeing it move, I thought, ‘Wow, brick and mortar is still alive and well.’ The store was visited by influencers Avani Gregg and Gage Gomez, model Devon Lee Carlson, the chameleon of social media Frankie Jonas, musicians Steve Lacy and Holly Humberstone and others.

But Ms. Snape is more focused on those around her, cultivating a creative group from the ground up. “Emma is honestly one of the best networkers I know,” Ms. Perlmutter said, “but she’s also generous in sharing the limelight and helping bring all the audiences together.”

Part of his magic has been ruthlessly staying on top of rapidly changing microtrends — “What did Addison Rae wear yesterday in a TikTok that went viral and everyone’s talking about?” – and to anticipate what the most avant-garde dressers will want to wear months in advance. She described a recent find, a relatively simple bedazzled “blessed” shirt, as “a college girl from 2012, 2014, but on a model, I can already imagine it. I see it with the low rise jeans. I’ll put this down, and we’ll see if anyone gets it.

She added, “It’s so cheesy, but, like, it’s okay.”

Ms. Rogue has also made a habit of unearthing styles and brands from the not-too-distant past that are no longer in the limelight but are paramount right now.

After coming across a cache of unsold mall brand items He’s a happy bunny, which combines cute illustrations with tangy phrases, she contacted Jim Benton, its creator. He sent her items from his personal archive for her to sell at a one-day pop-up.

“Frankly, she’s kind of a force of nature,” Mr Benton said. “You meet people who have a bright inner light and think, ‘You’re going to be high-time.’ She is one of those people.

Mr. Benton was in New York from Michigan for the event, which drew about 300 people. The store, he said, was “a lovely magnet”. Encouraged by interest from Gen Z, he is bringing the brand back later this year.

Crowds like this have become de rigueur for Mrs. Snape. At weekends, his block – Stanton Street between Eldridge and Forsyth – can feel like an impromptu parade. Lately she’s been woven into Nico from New Yorktapestry of colorful city characters. He took Post Malone to the store, where he bought piles of vintage t-shirts, tried on a denim shirt covered in Louis Vuitton logo leather patchwork and complete with a leash – made by Ari Serrano, one of his friends. creators of Rogue – and exclaimed, “This place is awesome!”

In the future, Ms. Snape wants to carry more of her freelance designer friends, and perhaps clothes of her own design. And his plan extends beyond the point of sale. She has nearly 575,000 followers on TikTok between her personal and boutique accounts, and she’s become a street interviewer, chatting with people who come to her boutique about their outfits and style preferences.

She sees it as the start of a media platform. She also has her eye on a location to build a cafe where her team can spend the day hanging out and can throw parties at night – an all-in-one Rogue experience – and plans to do a Roguefest bringing together clothing vendors. , musical performances, panels and carnival games.

“I don’t want to operate on someone else’s terms,” ​​she said. “Sometimes my mind goes too fast and I have these crazy ideas that I know I can’t execute right now. But, like, I want so badly.

David H. Henry