By Trudy Whitman
To the casual observer, the new children’s clothing, shoe, and accessory shop on Atlantic Avenue appears to be the partnership of husband and wife John Lowe and Marissa Alperin. In reality, however, there are four people behind the concept of Junior Lowe. For the couple’s two young boys, five-year-old Diego and his brother Sebi, aged three, have driven the designs that are showcased in the shop.
Diego and Sebi are fifth-generation Brooklynites who spend summers in Spain — the family homeland — with Grandmother and Great-grandmother. There the boys are outfitted with many of the items they wear during the school year. Other Brooklyn parents complimented the two little fashion plates and looked, they complained, in vain for similar, affordable clothing for their own children.
Cues have also been taken from the boys for stock items such as pet fish, an unusual sidebar for an apparel store. The back story here is that after Diego’s delight in receiving a fish as a birthday gift, his parents contacted a supplier called Aquablocks. So now the colorful fish and all the accoutrements needed for their care are available at Junior Lowe.
Some of the sturdiest roots in our community belong to the Alperin family of Cobble Hill. Supporters of local businesses and jewelry lovers are familiar with Marissa Alperin’s shop, Marissa Alperin Studio, on State Street. Her brother David opened a men’s fashion boutique, Goose Barnacle, also on Atlantic in 2010. Footsteps have been followed here — Marissa and David’s grandmother owned and operated the Long Island Restaurant on Atlantic, a favorite of Long Island College Hospital workers for many years.
A reverence for neighborhood tradition can be seen in the way 89 Atlantic Avenue was renovated. Alperin and Lowe were able to open up and brighten the space while retaining original details such as tin and brick. Reclaimed wooden spools, so easy to manipulate strollers around, serve as display tables. Animal art and blow-ups of the undeniably photogenic Alperin-Lowe family grace the walls.
About the retail dynasty, John Lowe says he is taken by how many customers express the desire to focus their shopping close to home. People are proud of their borough; Brooklyn is no longer the affordable stepping stone to an apartment in Manhattan or a stop-off on the way to the suburbs. Brooklyn is home, and residents want their merchants to reflect the pride.
Junior Lowe carries clothing for boys and girls, sizes 2 – 12. Brands include Lacoste, Diesel, Blu Pony Vintage, dresses and rompers by Stun, and checked pants and reversible plaid shirts by Bit’z Kids. The large selection of rainbow sneakers, kung fus, and ballet flats are from Lobo, a Spanish shoe designer. Suede chukka boots in a variety of colors are on order for the fall, while swimsuits, flip flops, sandals, and very cool sunglasses are currently highlighted.
The shop has also introduced new designers, many of whom are from Brooklyn. Styles include old-timey tunics, dresses, and tote bags by Lady Handmade and clip pins and skirts by Gravy Blue. Neenyo, by the brother and sister partnership Jed & Marne, is a vibrant line of children’s clothing made of fabrics handwoven and dyed by Mayan artisans from the highlands of Guatemala. Purchases abroad help ensure humane working conditions and perpetuate an endangered cultural tradition.
Look for future craft classes — extensions of Marissa Alperin’s popular jewelry parties — in the comfortable back space of Junior Lowe. In addition to jewelry making, classes will include print screening of original art on T-shirts, and fashioning wallets and bags from duct tape — a new trend.
Junior Lowe; 89 Atlantic Avenue between Hicks and Henry; 718 625-2010; www.jrlowe.com. Junior Lowe is open six days a week from 11 a.m to 7. p.m. Closed Mondays.