The Phluid Project is the first genderless retail store in New York City located on 684 Broadway in Manhattan's Nolita. Launched March 1st and founded by Rob Smith, this is the first store of its kind.
The store is far more than just shopping. The moment one walks through the doors they are apart of a creative and artistic community. Speaking to the Visual Manager, Frankie Martinez, the store is designed with the intention of being a “public safe space.” Phluid features different artists such as Daniel Carr who is the current resident designer of their #phluidphantasy-a social media studio showcasing various works. They run public discussions titled Tuesday Talk’s that discuss a variety of topics from non-binary to featured speakers such as artist and designer Patrick Church. They also have their own coffee bar where you can bring a laptop and do work, or bring your friends and enjoy the energy the store provides. Speaking to Sales Associate Tajee Harris he states that since he started at Phluid he “felt at home.”
Discussing the inspiration for the showcases, Martinez is influenced by his own personal style mantra of ”dressing as you feel and that’s it.” The store shows no specified marketing orientation towards either gender on its organization. Reflecting on himself and his own personal experience with clothing when styling, Martinez pulls inspiration from what it would be like for kids who don’t have anything to look towards in terms of freedom of expression.
“Personally, I felt such a push back from my family for dressing non-conforming and I realized that this space is particularly important for those people facing similar situations. Even if they cannot access New York City and make it to the store, at least they know that it exists and that’s enough.”
The Phluid Project offers a variety of options. With a target market for younger generations, the store is at a crossroads between Topshop and Urban Outfitters. However, the main differentiating point is that it is accepting of whatever YOU feel like wearing. From brands such as MEAT-a UK line specializing in latex to FILAS to Phluid's own line with quotes such as “Be Yourself” across the chest, there is a relatable piece for everyone. All of their beauty products have a charitable component to it. For example, Nota Oils donates 100% of their proceeds to their given charity. Martinez sees that it is reflective of their ideology that although profit will be able to expand their reach, it is more about their message that the store is trying to send involving acceptance, the challenging of boundaries and open dialogue with the community.
Article by Co-Founder and Producer Kylie Lauren @kylielaurenfrink
Special thanks to Frankie Martinez @xo_franxx and Tajee Harris @T4j3e