Local fashion designers Jonathan Joseph Peters (who appeared on season seven of Project Runway) and Jess Abernethy (who has worked under acclaimed American design- er Liz Collins) were in the midst of searching for shared retail space when they stumbled upon one building-inithe-works that felt just right: the historic Providence Arcade, America’s oldest indoor shopping mall.
“The Arcade is beautiful and we love it here!” Peters says excitedly from a chair inside Nude, the brand new clothing and accessory boutique that he owns and manages along with Abernethy. She sits beside him, nodding in agreement. With classic architectural details such as a tin ceiling and bay windows, Nude blends old-world charm with modern flare. Its neutral gray walls allow the colorful garments to take center stage. And they do.
Peters and Abernethy handpicked the décor, right down to the very kitschy and surprising dressing room, which you’ll just have to see for yourself. “What [developer] Evan Granoff has done with this building is truly inspiring and revolutionary for Providence,” Peters says. “We wanted to be a part of that. Entering the space really gives you the feeling of being transported to another era. We love the aesthetic of the building, being in the heart of downtown and, of course, the fact that all of the businesses in The Arcade are local.”
Once the no-brainer location was designated, the two friends began to flesh out the concept. Peters and Abernethy believe that the more items a client has to peruse, the better, and so they chose to expand the store’s inventory by inviting four other local and talented designers to display merchandise there: Amy Stetkiewicz, Sarah Prost, Kent Stetson and Susan Troy. Nude sells ready-to-wear, women’s custom clothing and handbags. All of the boutique’s designers have shown at StyleWeek.
“We are hoping to target women who are professionals,” Peters says. “Smart, sharp and sophisticated women who want to abandon mall mentality and wear special hand-made garments that are completely individualized. The price points of merchan- dise varies greatly as there are six separate designers – however, shoppers might be surprised to find that there is handmade ready-to-wear available for no more than what they would pay at a specialty shop.”
Abernethy pipes in: “Yes, people think our clothing must be expensive but really it’s affordable. We’re no more expensive than a store like Nordstrom at the Providence Place Mall. Plus we’re local and every item in store is designer-created and made. If we don’t have an item in your size we can easily custom make it for you!”
Oh, and in case you’re wondering how they came up with their unusual name...
“Jess and I decided on the name Nude,” says Peters. “We thought it made a lot of sense along with our tagline of ‘local talent exposed’ and it also gave way to lots of funny, witty and tongue-in-cheek marketing possibilities!”
While getting the boutique up and running has been a feat of both time management and dexterity, Peters says he’s lucky to have Abernethy doing this project with him.
“We have known each other for over a decade and she is a great partner,” he says. “We make a giant to-do list and then get to split it in half. Honestly, when remaining focused, it’s amazing how much a person can accomplish in a day!” Nude is now open Monday-Saturday from 10-6:30pm.