By Emily J. Weitz
Robin Saidman didn’t really plan to open a small business in the Cove in Sag Harbor. But when the space opened up between Marie Eiffel and Fingers and Saidman noticed the way the light hit when it spilled through the windows, he saw an opportunity. By a small stroke of grace, he happened to meet his business partner Sharone Komoroff, a few days later. Komoroff has her own shop in the city, Pachute, where she carries clothing and accessories for women. With her experience in both retail and fashion and his passion for fabrics, Pachute and Duck and Weave joined forces.
“Sharone has a whole retail collection,” says Saidman. “Partnering with her brought me from 0 to 60 in two weeks.”
Most of the time, someone who sells shirts by day might choose the off-hours to pursue a passion like photography. For Saidman, the opposite is true. His art has been showcased extensively, but it’s only now that he’s allowing himself to delve into his passion for fabrics and clothing.
“I am obsessed with fabric and shirts,” he confesses.
He’s traveled all over the world, capturing the faces and landscapes of different cultures on film. But everywhere he’s gone he’s also noticed the rich materials. He spent a lot of time in India and Senegal in particular.
“It was no big deal there to take fabrics to a local tailor and get a shirt made,” Saidman says. “That was the original idea for this business, but it’s morphed.” He motions to the rack of shirts, a soft rainbow of muted colors hanging delicately on their hangers. “These are perfect shirts, with an ethnic flavor,” he says. “My influences include contemporary fashions like Rag and Bone, Hartford, and 45 RPM.” (45 RPM, he explains is a code name for “I’m really hip”).
Saidman’s obsession with shirts began early.
“In London [where he was born and raised], shirts always had detached collars,” he says. “Businessmen would have one collarless shirt and then get five different collars, and wear the same shirt every day of the week, just changing the collar.”
As part of the counterculture back then, Saidman would wear collarless shirts as a statement.
So what makes the shirts in Duck and Weave worthy of a fetish? What is the element that takes something from a nice article of clothing to an obsession?
Saidman believes that it’s just the right combination of materials, and the process. He gets his fabrics from Japan, and the shirts are made in the garment district in Manhattan. His shirts are 99% cotton with just a touch of polyester.
“The polyester gives it that crinkle,” he says. “That gives it the effect of seersucker. They’re lightweight shirts, great for a hot and sticky day. These shirts are excruciatingly pleasant to wear.”
Before he found a retail space, Saidman was making shirts wholesale. At first he worked with three local shops: Gloria Jewel, Urban Zen, and Isa.Lon. He was making a few hundred shirts at a time, and thought, “Why not make another hundred?” That was how he started thinking about opening his own store.
For Komoroff, who has been coming to Sag Harbor to stay with her in-laws for the past decade, her success in the city made her start thinking about bringing her business out East. She actually had this exact space in mind, but she was in Israel when a man she didn’t know, Robin Saidman, signed the lease. She sighed, deciding it wasn’t meant to be.
“I let it go,” says Komoroff, “and then my friend Annette, who used to run Urban Zen, put us in touch. She said it would be great for us to benefit from each other. So I called Robin the next day, and within the first two minutes it felt comfortable. I took the Jitney out the next day.”
Komoroff’s mother-in-law, Audrey Orell, is co-owner of the Sag Harbor branch of Pachute, so it’s going to be a lot of cooks in the kitchen. But Komoroff adores Saidman’s shirts, and won’t be selling anything to undercut his wares. The same is true for Saidman.
“I’ll sell the same things I sell in the city, minus the shirts,” says Komoroff. “We’ll sell dresses, jackets, jeans, and jewelry. My stuff is just for women; his is for both.”
As a team, they hope they’ll be able to serve the community comprehensively.
“The idea is that Duck and Weave is hosting Pachute,” says Komoroff. “We’ll see how it goes for the summer and hopefully it will work out. It’s really like two businesses in one. That’s how it will start, and we’ll see what happens. I would love to see it turn into something that lasted past the summer.”