Opened in 2010 by business partners Johnny Pizzolato and Virginia Craddock, International Playground is an aptly named New York-based wholesale showroom and retail venture that specializes in showcasing brands from overseas along with up-and-coming domestic ones. It now operates two stores, the original one in Nolita, and another at 463 Broome Street in SoHo in the same building as the showroom. The second boutique opened earlier this year. Here, Pizzolato discusses the shops’ unique assortment, current fashion trends and the challenges of being both a multibrand retailer and wholesaler. Interview by Rudy Gonzales

International Playground's SoHo store, photo: Shelby Gates
International Playground's SoHo store, photo: Shelby Gates
What inspired you to open a store?
I saw a need in the market for labels from around the world to be brought together to inspire and shine together. We are the agents for a lot of the brands we carry so our stores are sort of their micro flagships Stateside.

What are your bestselling brands?
I would say for men Soulland and for women H Fredriksson. They are both sort of the anchors of the showroom and represent our customer base and tastes with the widest reach.

Do people buy according to their favorite brand, style or impulse?
I would say we carry a lot of unique pieces from our favorite brands that are hard to find including Starstyling, Daniel Palillo, Carin Wester, Filles et Papa, Stine Goya, MARIOS, ANYthing and Horace which sort of stick out on their own but people get excited we have them in NYC. I'd like to think our customers are impulsive and know a good thing when they see it.

Inside the Nolita store
Inside the Nolita store

Where do you order? And how do you learn about trends?
We never stop traveling and are always digging for the new, inspiring–you never know where you will find something fresh. We look at everything we are sent and usually fall in love with the people behind the brands too. It is more a beat on the street we follow versus trends. The brands and people we align ourselves with are trendsetters and usually the rest of the world catches up a few seasons down the line.

How important is communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
I love to work in the store and see people experience our clothing firsthand. We send around e-mails to let people know about events and new pieces just in but we love company at both locations. Our office is below the Broome Street store in the lower level courtyard.

International Playground's SoHo store, photo: Shelby Gates
International Playground's SoHo store, photo: Shelby Gates
How do you choose the products you offer your usual customers?
By sort of touring the markets that excite us–Paris, Copenhagen, newly Berlin, LA and right here in NYC and sort of do a curation of the best of the best and most inspired pieces.

What are your current collections?
For men: Anzevino Getty, ANYthing, Daniel Palillo, Drink Beer Save Water, General Idea, Horace, Journal, MARIOS, PLAC, Royal Republic, SIR, Soulland, Starstyling, Tourne de Transmission, Wood Wood. (Coming soon: Liam Hodges, Maharishi, etc.)
For women: Bon Hardware, Carin Wester, Chromat, Don't Shoot the Messengers, Filles a Papa, H Fredriksson, Helicopter, Helene Westerby, Horace, I Still Love You NYC, A. Knackfuss, Kowtow, Mary Meyer, Miista, Star Styling, Stine Goya, Upstate, Wood Wood, etc.

What are the most important trends, in general?
I guess anti-norm core is the trend we stick to which is not a trend. It’s so post-modern for no taste and no personality.

How do your stores differ from each other and other stores?
It is tricky because we sell collections to stores via our showroom in the same family of taste as ours–such as Opening Ceremony, Bird, Oak, V Files, Personnel, Otte, Goose Barnacle–but we do things our way and mix it up fresh and very us.

International Playground SoHo
463 Broome Street
New York, NY 10013
+1 212 228 2700

International Playground Nolita
13 Stanton Street
New York, NY 10002
+1 212 228 2323