If you’re looking for original handmade clothing, there’s plenty of local talent popping up along the Shore.
You may have seen these designers’ work on the boardwalk, at the holiday pop-up markets or in the local music scene.
Check them out:
Nick Penta spent his childhood growing up in the Atlantic Highlands, learning from his father how to surf.
“(The beach) has always been a part of who I am,” Penta, 30, said. “I grew up right next to Sandy Hook, where you get a large number of outside traffic. I remember when they started the carry-in, carry-out policy, it just turned into hoards of trash sitting in the parking lot. You know, it’s something you remember.”
While studying at the Maryland Institute College of Art, Penta came up with an idea for a clothing brand —one that stems from his Jersey Shore roots.
His clothing company Dead Seagull, which he started in 2010, features his own artwork, which he prints on T-shirts, bags and accessories. His work has a simple message — have respect for your surroundings.
“Living at the beach, you see it every day —a very distinct lack of care, especially here in the summer. You can see it on the beach right now. I think that’s where it started.”
His pieces are designed to send a message in an edgy way.
“I try to go for a controlled chaos — letting things be raw and unfinished to an extent,” Penta said. “It’s true to life. The world is not clean lines. Nothing is straight or simple. There’s something truthful about chaos.”
All of his clothing is made using environmentally friendly products, and water based printing.
Popular pieces include his T-shirt that states, “Locals Only” inside shark teeth as well as “Keep Our Oceans Clean” with pilings in the ocean in the shape of a middle finger — what Penta calls a subtle way of getting his point across.
“What I’m trying to say I think benefits a younger crowd. To be eco-conscious. Respectful,” Penta said.
For Penta, it’s all about having a local mentality wherever you are – treating a place, and the people with respect.
When Penta is working on a project, he said he feels elsewhere.
“I tend to get not tunnel vision, but just that focus where everything else kind of disappears,” Penta said. “Whatever the task is, whatever idea I have overcomes. That’s why we create. It gives us something to put ourselves into.”
Visit deadseagull.com for more information.
Calling all babes
Growing up, Kate Shorosky always secretly dreamed of becoming a fashion designer.
“I figure-skated when I was younger, so I used to always sketch figure skating outfits. I was 7, thinking I knew what I was doing,” Shorosky, of Manchester, said.
Today, the 24-year-old has her own fashion company, Stella + Stosh, which sells loose-fitting free-spirited “clothing for babes.” Shorosky’s clothing company began after she graduated from Philadelphia University, where she studied fashion merchandising, and moved back into her parent’s home.
“I just started messing around with the sewing machine my parents got me because I had so much free time,” Shorosky said. “I started out doing designs for myself, making kimonos to wear over bikinis at the beach. My friends kept telling me I should sell it.”
Shorosky decided to expand her hobby into a business and market her clothing toward young women ages 15 to 30. She currently has about 30 to 40 designs, featuring kimonos, fur scarves for winter and blanket sweaters that all range from bohemian to funky.
She works inside her studio room in her old bedroom at home, where the room is covered in fabric she’s found while shopping in New York City.
The name Stella + Stosh stems from her family. Stella was the name of her Polish great grandmother who sewed her entire life, and Stosh is the name her father wanted to name her brother, but mother vetoed.
Shorosky just moved to Philly, but she plans on being at the Asbury Park Bazaars, and hopes to add her clothing in boutiques along the Jersey Shore.
“It sounds super cheesy, but it is really therapeutic because I don’t have to think about anything other than creating,” Shorosky said. “If it turns out weird, I can just start over.”
Stella + Stosh designs range from $20 to $75. Her work can be found at stellaandstosh.etsy.com or facebook.com/stellaandstosh.
Child of the ’60s and ’70s
Nita Novy’s venture into the fashion world is more than unconventional.
It all started 28 years ago when Novy was in her late 30s — “I designed a hat for my daughter who was in pre-school at the time, and she came back from school with all these orders in her lunch can.”
Inspired by the interest in her designs, Novy decided to march into Barney’s in New York with six handmade hats, which the store ending up purchasing. From there, Novy started designing hats and children’s wear as a full-time career, and today her main focus is in women’s clothing.
She currently owns her own clothing story, Nita Ideas, on Cookman Avenue in Asbury Park, where she’s been for three years. Her clothing store started in Pennsylvania, then came to Millburn, and now Asbury Park, where she feels there’s this creative energy.
Before her fashion career, Novy worked as a full-time actor on Broadway, starring as Rizzo in “Grease” as well as “Harold and Maude” and “The Sound of Music.”
“I decided I wanted more control in my life. As an actor, you had none,” Novy said. “I’ve sort of built my own theater (here in Asbury). This is kind of a new play every day. Everybody communally writes it — it’s written by me and the staff and every person who walks in here. It’s a show every day. Have I left the theater? No. And the theater will never leave me.”
Her designs have a theatricality to it — every piece of clothing has a persona attached, she said. Her clothing is designed for individuals, for women who want to express themselves, while also feeling comfortable.
“Women will say, ‘Oh my god. These are clothes that I can wear. That I want to wear. I have always dreamed of wearing this.’ “ Novy said. “You know, we’re ex hippies, we’re the mothers of the hipsters, I always say.
“My sensibility has never changed from the ’70s. There’s still a sense of personal expression. What I do is not rocket science, and I’m not curing cancer, but I hope I’m making women happy and I think I have for 25 years, and that has been a real gift.”
Visit nitaideas.com for more information. Her store is at 601 Cookman Ave. in Asbury Park. It will reopen in March.
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