The Village comes to Big D

ECLECTIC BOUTIQUE | Designer Tom John shows off some of the ‘retro, vintage chic, eclectic’ items for sale in his new shop Bryan Street Traders. (David Taffet/Dallas Voice)

Store features an eclectic array of items from art to clothing created by owner Tom John

DAVID TAFFET | Staff Writer
taffet@dallasvoice.com

When clothing designer Tom John moved to Dallas, he found himself missing his Greenwich Village hangouts. So he decided to recreate that Village atmosphere here in Big D, and thus was born John’s new Bryan Street Traders in East Dallas.

John’s career as a designer started back in the 1970s in Mexico where he designed jewelry and swans made of papier-mache and wood that he sold to upscale galleries in Manhattan.

Then he started designing clothing made from hand-woven cotton found only in Mexico, turning peasant designs into high fashion and creating a clothing line that was an instant success. In the 1980s, his clothing was featured in magazines such as Exercise for Men Only.

John ended up in Dallas because the area’s airport allowed him to commute easily between Guadalajara and New York. And since 1990, he has manufactured his garments here. Although the wholesale cost, he said, was a few dollars more than producing in Mexico, he saved in shipping and travel costs.

In describing his creative process, John explained, “I see it in my head and an artist draws the pattern.” Then the pattern is cut and sewn into a test garment and John uses that to decide if that was what he had in mind.

Changes are made if necessary, and then the pattern is sized. John’s new store features his shirt designs that run in sizes up to 5X.

From his women’s rack, John pulled one dress that he said comes from his very first design — a cream-colored dress that he said he based on a design from a 1951 Sophia Loren film.

But Bryan Street Traders is more than clothing. John described the array of items as “retro, vintage chic, eclectic.”

The offerings range from art to jewelry, from furniture to an array of household items.

“I have ‘pickers’ who find things,” John said, describing how he assembled his assortment of merchandise, “But we don’t buy off the street.”

One customer in the store brought a straight-edge razor up to the counter.

“The razor is from Sheffield, the oldest metalworking factory in the world,” John explained and with a magnifying glass found identifying marks on the piece.

“Everything in the store is authentic,” he said.

The store is located just off Peak Street in an area just being redeveloped with new restaurants. on the corner and apartments on the block.

Bryan Street Traders, 4217 Bryan Street. Monday-Saturday 11 a.m.-6 p.m., Sunday 1 p.m.-5 p.m. BryanStreetTraders.com.

This article appeared in the Dallas Voice print edition Feb. 25, 2011.

—  John Wright