this new jersey clothier has always loved fashion. now he’s brought his unique sense of style to Red Bank
by Jessica Jones-Gorman • Photos by Robert Nuzzie
When Alexander Meder was very young, he fell in love with fashion. Inspired by his family’s success in the industry (which began with a 150-square-foot retail store in the 1970s and turned into a 20,000-square-foot department store by 1999), the Munich native’s future was paved in fabric. He started working at a department store in London when he was in his twenties, then held sales jobs for Givenchy and Lanvin after he came to the United States in 1987. But throughout his career, Meder has always been more than a garmento who simply buys and sells clothes. The self proclaimed fashionista said he does more than wear a style, he “lives” it.
“I guess you could say I’ve always been obsessed with quality and texture,” Meder said. “After working in the industry for so many years, my eye is continuously drawn to fabrication and finish. I love clothing that is stitched perfectly, and respect textiles that fit the body in just the right way.”
That’s why in 2016, after almost 40 years in the business, Meder opened his own boutique in Red Bank.
“After representing designers and working in retail, I wanted to offer a uniquely curated selection of quality American and European luxury designer sportswear that fits my clientele’s 24/7 lifestyle,” the owner said. “I chose Red Bank because it is a vibrant, artistic town full of many small, unique, and independently owned businesses. It is a year-round cosmopolitan, artistic community that also serves as a destination.
I knew this location was perfect for my vision.” Meder began with a virtually empty 2,000-square-foot space in a beautiful historic building overlooking the Navasink River. He designed every inch of the space to properly showcase all of his handpicked fashions.
“We were lucky enough to have the historic elements intact, including original wood floors, 12-foot ceilings, a huge glass display window, and a full-length brick wall,” Meder said.
“We intentionally kept the design of the space classic and neutral—not just to pay homage to its history but to also focus attention on the apparel and the accessories themselves. Everything from the dark ceiling, which virtually disappears, to the custom armoires, which act as picture frames for each collection, the entire space is designed to showcase what’s within.”
He has filled the boutique with art and photography books, comfortable seating, and soft lighting. He decided to name it THEO; an abbreviation of his father’s middle name, it was a
way to honor his roots.
“This store was built on the principle that style and life are synonymous,” Meder said. “I wanted to offer unique contemporary
designer apparel and accessories that people could wear on a daily basis, not just for special occasions.”
The store was launched with core selections from 25 handpicked American and European designers, but in the past year has expanded to include 53 designers. Some of the store’s most popular brands are Pinko, Weekend by Max Mara, Tricot Chic, and Kal Rieman—many of which are only available in this region at THEO.
“We listen to our customers because it’s important to get to know their fit and style and really pay attention to what they’re buying,” noted Tamara Lynas, THEO’s creative director.
“Everything we feature in this store is based on our local customers—targeted to their wants and needs—and our selections are completely unique; what you see here cannot be found elsewhere locally or at any department store.”
The store’s bread and butter is coordinated sportswear, sold with matching accessories, but nothing, Lynas said, is basic.
“All of our essentials have some type of special feature to them. Why buy the same boring black sweater when you can buy something that has unique fabrication or finish? It’s not about adding a statement to your wardrobe, it’s about adding a blouse or a pant that is different than the rest.”
THEO’s philosophy focuses on wardrobe flexibility (pieces able to be dressed up or down) and its employees are trained to instruct about the transition capabilities of every garment.
“We have staff meetings when new clothing comes in during which we inform our staff of the details of each piece,” Lynas said. “We talk about fabrication, styling, size, and the purpose behind each detail. The employee even tries each piece on, or it is tried on for them, so that they are aware of the item’s fit.”
The store also offers specialty services and events—personal shopping, trunk shows, and a customer loyalty program among them.
“With our loyalty program, each dollar a client spends amounts to a point,” added Lynas.
“There are three tiers, each one with unique benefits and rewards beyond just discounts.”
The store is also active on social media; once a week, it even participates in a live event on Facebook. “This allows us to give customers a look inside our store on a daily basis,” the creative director said, “which helps build a following.”
“We have already expanded our men’s department this fall, doubling the number of designers, keeping in line with our luxury sportswear identity,” Meder said. “THEO will also be adding e-commerce to our website in order to give our customers an additional way to purchase. We would also love to expand with the opening of another store in about two years.”
But for now, Meder is content with his success.
“This past year has truly been a dream come true for me,” he concluded. “Sharing my passion for fashion with the Red Bank community has been very fulfilling.”
3 East Front Street, Red Bank / 732.383.8085