A CELEBRITY CONTRACTOR WITH A PASSION FOR FASHION GROWS HIS BOUTIQUE CLOTHING LINE
BY ERIK SCHONING PHOTOS BY AMANDA DOMENECH
While many associate the number 13 with superstition, Eric Eremita, celebrity contractor, realtor, designer, and builder, crafted his career on that number. His latest project, Thirteen by Eric Eremita, is a growing boutique clothing line with an emphasis on passion and style.
It’s the latest step along a career path that has been anything but conventional. In his school days, Eremita had planned on majoring in fashion and interior design in the commercial art world. But his father, who owned a construction and home improvement company at the time, came to him with what turned out to be a life-altering request.
“He said, ‘Look, I don’t want to bust your dreams, but I could really use your help in construction,’” Eremita said. “So I brought my style and fashion sense to the construction and interior design business.”
Eremita began with renovations and eventually graduated to design custom homes. Over the next few years, the native Staten Islander gradually built a name for himself in the business, one that echoed beyond the borders of the borough, catching the interest of HGTV. Eremita first appeared in five episodes of the network’s Brother vs. Brother in 2014, then he became the construction manager on hit show Love it or List It. The role played to his strengths in both design and style. It was Eremita’s job to turn homeowners’ properties into the home of their dreams. The show elevated Eremita’s profile, and it was where the logo for his future clothing line was born.
“One day, they asked me to block out the logo on the tape measure I wore on my belt,” Eremita said. “So I grabbed a red and a black Sharpie and I put a heart with a thirteen on the inside of it. It wasn’t a logo yet, but 80 episodes later I branded myself by wearing this tape measure during every episode I appeared in.”
How did Eremita settle on his magic number? For starters, it’s his wedding anniversary. Eremita and his wife Joanne were married on February 13, the day before Valentine’s Day. The number 13, when spelled out, also contains Eremita’s initials, “EE.” Eremita explained the number has been important to him during challenging moments in his life. When he was hospitalized with COVID-19 in early 2020, he took the first steps in his recovery process and came off a breathing apparatus on April 13. To him, it’s all part of a pattern.
With the brand recognition built through Love it or List It, Eremita took the plunge and launched Thirteen by Eric Eremita. The foundation of the clothing line is the now-famous logo, which takes center stage on a lineup of T-shirts, hoodies, beanies, neckties, and even face masks. But the line’s calling card is the dress shirt. Eremita hosts custom dress shirt parties at clients’ homes, restaurants, or event spaces. In his contracting and custom home-building work, Eremita is no stranger to sitting down with clients and talking through their perfect home. The customization process can often be complicated, with a variety of materials and styles in play. With custom shirts, the logic is the same: clients come to Eremita with a vision, and he and his tailor go to work drawing up the perfect shirt.
The process is straightforward. After being measured by the tailor, clients pick out fabrics, buttons, collars, and cuffs. Fabric choices are plentiful, from supima cotton up to Italian weaves, all made in America. A few weeks later, they receive custom-made dress shirts perfectly tailored to their measurements. Eremita envisions his shirt parties as social affairs, ones that fuse luxury and necessity. After all, everyone needs a go-to dress shirt. By integrating the tailoring and customization process into a party environment, Eremita is able to introduce clients to his brand, show people a good time, and perhaps most importantly, refresh as many wardrobes as possible.
Thirteen by Eric Eremita is very much a boutique brand. Aside from a trim list of ready-to-wear tops and accessories, the designer is building his name on custom pieces and the bespoke experience. In addition to dress shirts, Eremita does custom denim and varsity jackets. It’s an eclectic offering that draws on the ever-evolving trends in fashion.
“I bring the current vibe with a dressy edge,” Eremita said. “I feel that both genres can be mixed. Everything is blended today. You can wear tuxedo shoes with tuxedo pants, a vest, and a denim jacket and look like a million dollars. It’s all who carries it. You have to love who you are in order to carry the brand.”
Today, Eric Eremita, like his clothes, is constantly in demand. In addition to managing his clothing line, the multi hyphenate is still an active realtor, interior, designer, and custom home builder. He wears many hats, but to him it’s all under a single umbrella: the House of Thirteen. (Fittingly, that’s the name of an upcoming memoir Eremita is releasing, titled The House of Thirteen: Coincidence or Divine Intervention?) Between social media, word of mouth, and TV, Eremita said he’s always amazed by and grateful for the attention his work has received. As his brand continues to grow, his vision is to collaborate with established design houses. Eremita’s aspirations are very much Fifth Avenue: the designer has walked the red carpet at New York Fashion Week as part of his mission to blur the lines between streetwear and high fashion.
But amid the success and fame, for Eremita, his work always comes back to connecting with people. The sleeves of his dress shirts feature small hearts, a nod to the idea that one should always wear their heart on their sleeve.
“The people who keep coming back believe in the brand,” Eremita said. “I threw my last shirt party and there were some bankers there who worked on Wall Street. I always tell people the left chest logo is optional. One of the gentlemen turned to me and said, ‘I wouldn’t be here today if I didn’t want to wear that on my chest.’ And that made me feel good.”