The Atlanta Antidote Lauren Amos & Eugene Rabkin Interview

    Everyone remembers the first time. For Lauren Amos, she was seeing Junya Watanabe’s fall 2004 fashion show. She went to the mall right away. She didn’t go out with any sweater from Junya Watanabe, but she did buy her first pullover from Rick Owens. For Eugene Rabkin, he was walking the Barneys for the first time in 1998 and seeing pieces from designers like Yohji Yamamoto and Ann Demeulemeester. He credits his experience with teaching him what fashion really is, beyond the logo-centric Versace, Dolce and Gabbana elements that defined the term “fashion” for him beforehand. These kinds of experiences are what the duo hope will bring to a new generation of shoppers at Atlanta’s newest luxury fashion destination, ANT/DOTE.

    “People have asked before, ‘What is the typical store for this?’ And there’s no shop. But I think we’re trying to recreate that first moment when you walked into Barneys 25 years ago to see what was new. “I went to show off,” says Rabkin, as he leans on a black dresser in the VIP room downstairs. From his newly opened store in Atlanta next to Amos.” There was excitement. And now fashion doesn’t work that way anymore.”

    With ANT/DOTE opening in Atlanta’s West Midtown neighborhood, Amos and Rabkin aim to give locals the same feel that made them fall in love with fashion decades ago. Amos has years of retail experience already under her belt as the Wish Foundation, another retail point in town focusing on athletic shoes and streetwear. Although Rabkin established himself in the fashion industry as a critic and founder of StyleZeitgeist, he had never run his own space before. In a StyleZeitgeist blog post from August 2021, he explained why now seems like the perfect time to take the leap.

    “I think deep down every critic, as a tastemaker—and let’s face it, criticism is in part a taste—fantasies about opening a store. I know I have. In a way, a store is another way to test one’s location, ability, ingenuity, determination , but also its limitations,” the post reads. “We wanted a store where you wouldn’t feel comfortable with salespeople, a store where a fashion student could walk in and chew our ears about how cool Rei Kawakubo was. Because we were these kids, and we remember what it’s like to open that door behind which the most amazing clothes were kept, though Feeling terrified inside.”

    No details were overlooked using ANT/DOTE. The interior design was handled by Chris Penfield, the architect who previously designed the Rick Owens and Balenciaga stores in North America. He was tasked with transforming the space, which previously served as Kodak’s laboratory for secret government projects, into a must-see shopping destination. Minimal white walls and terrazzo floors keep the focus on the clothes. A rough-shaped black marble banknote is installed in the center of the store. Display cases litter the floor of sunglasses and jewelry. One corner of the boutique is dedicated to skincare and perfume with a variety of floor-to-ceiling Aesop products. A flight of stairs leads to a cavernous vault that displays shoes and handbags on white plaster shelves. A circular seating area, a custom-made leather bench that takes up floor space, and a giant mirror in the corner, perfect for pictures.

    Carlo Steele, founder of the famous New York Atelier, was brought in as a buyer. One thing you’ll notice immediately from browsing the shelves is that there are virtually no logos in the entire store. The Marine Serre pieces covered in their signature crescent print are perhaps the most visible example of the graphic along with a handful of Undercover shirts. You won’t find a hoodie with the 1017 Alyx 9SM logo on it, but you will find this black oversized hoodie with a quarter-zip front. CDG Play hearts aren’t in sight, but you’ll be able to purchase this adorable pair of CDG Homme Plus pleated pants. Each of the sales staff, who Rapkin says has been meticulously trained to know the product like the back of his hand, wears a black gown specially designed by Craig Green for the staff.

    ANT/DOTE isn’t the only place in Atlanta that offers luxury fashion. A Ma Maniére offers a variety of brands from Balenciaga to Dior. Lenox Square Mall and major Phipps Plaza stores such as Neiman Marcus and Saks Fifth Avenue. The Buckhead Village area is home to leading designers such as Hermès and Louis Vuitton. But ANT/DOTE offers a wide variety of products. He will be the exclusive agent for names such as Comme des Garcons, Craig Green, Jil Sander, Junya Watanabe and Undercover. Rabkin notes that the addition of art clothing storage space Stone Island, Arc’teryx Veilance, and Acronym will eventually be on the sales floor as well. But for Amos, the experience is more than transactional, something these big box stores can’t always provide.

    “Creating an environment that gives people a luxury experience is very important,” Amos tells Complex. They want to take their selfies and make them feel better. In the end, that’s all there is to it, just pampering customers and giving them the best luxury experience possible, no matter if it’s a $100 t-shirt or a $35,000 jacket.”

    We had the opportunity to sit down with Amos and Rabkin at ANT/DOTE’s opening night event to discuss their vision for the shop, their ideas for brick and mortar retail, and more.

    This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.