If you love fashion, you will travel for it. Sometimes it’s to a far away place and sometimes it’s in a corner of town that is just off your normal route. Either way, the finds are always worth the adventure. The best treasures are often those that don’t come easy.
Just off an industrial stretch of 17th St NW, with a recording studio, gun range and public storage as neighbors, ANT/DOTE (pronounced Antidote) stands as a beacon of cool. The stand-alone Art Deco building was built in 1950. It was originally used as a Kodak lab for secret government projects. The building’s current purpose is lightyears away from 1950s life, but the feeling of a secret project remains.
Owner Lauren Amos, who lives in Buckhead, didn’t want a store with just some rolling racks in a white space. She wanted to offer an architectural contribution to the city. She completely redesigned the historic building into a modern space that allows customers to be fully immersed in ANT/DOTE’s universe. “I think I lost hair over that one,” Lauren says. “I obtained the building, and then started the work. It was a very, very big renovation.”
The shop was designed by American architect Chris Benfield of Benfield Partners, who has previously designed North American stores for Dior Homme, Rick Owens, and Balenciaga. The exterior is a statement-making monochromatic facade that was hand-applied over the building's original red brick. Inside, hand-poured terrazzo floors and hand-applied plaster walls provide juxtaposition between the interior and the clothing, creating a distinctive space for visitors to explore.
Lauren’s inspiration was sparked by Japanese design firm Wonderwall. “People would walk into a store and they would cry. It was such a visceral experience that people had within an architectural space, and that made such an impact. I felt like it was just as important to do that here in Atlanta.”
About the shop’s location, Lauren says, “It was a bit of a risk because we’re off the beaten path a little bit. Within a third of a mile, you're within the shopping district on the Westside, but we're a destination location, so that comes with its challenges.”
Lauren started her foray into fashion retail in 2004 with WISH ATL, a high-concept streetwear boutique in Little Five Points. Back then, Atlanta was not seen as a participant in the fashion scene, let alone a player. Lauren explains, “When I started WISH, I remember being on the phone with brands and they would be like, ‘I'm sorry, where are you located?’ and I’d say, ‘Atlanta.’ I definitely felt judged and looked down on.”
Opinions didn’t deter Lauren. Quite the opposite, they drove her even more so to succeed in bringing “fashion with a capital F” to her city. She propelled WISH ATL to a global following that includes hip-hop artists and celebrities, and she and her CEO and business partner Julie Hogg are recognized as one of the only women-owned and operated streetwear boutiques in the U.S.
Over the last 20 years, Atlanta has grown. It has experienced a cultural explosion of music, art and film. It’s changed from a fashion perspective, too. Lauren felt that there was a desperate need for people to be able to buy what they were seeing on a celebrity, Instagram or runway show. In 2022, she felt the time was right and she opened ANT/DOTE.
Lauren describes the community as vibrant and creative. She says, “I think that Atlanta is filled with people who are anxious to express themselves, to gain knowledge about fashion, and find something new. We're the opposite of jaded. Atlanta is curious and ready to absorb any and everything, and to show off their Sunday best.”
She describes a woman that came to the shop when it first opened and bought a JW Anderson tuxedo suit. "She came in and she cut it into booty shorts and wore it to the VMAs and looked like a million dollars."
Lauren’s mission with ANT/DOTE goes beyond being just a place to shop. She wants the store to be a source of information about the history of fashion and a space where anyone can come in and feel welcome. Customer service is priority number one. Lauren says, “We welcome the student without any money as much as we welcome the celebrity that pays our bills.” ANT/DOTE recently hosted a showcase of looks from the SCAD senior 2023 fashion show.
ANT/DOTE doesn’t follow trends as much as it helps to set them. The store’s fabulously curated selection of the latest looks from the runway is engineered to inspire, and maybe take you to a fashion place you haven’t been before. This fall ANT/DOTE will introduce Balenciaga and Burberry to the shop.
Lauren grew up in Columbus, Georgia. She moved to Atlanta to attend the Atlanta College of Art, (now SCAD), met her husband and it’s been home ever since. Buckhead wasn’t necessarily on their radar, but she fell in love with a mid-century house and that was it. “I am obsessed with my neighborhood. It's so quiet and lush and amazing. I feel like I’m in an oasis. I'll never move out of this house,” she says.
Step aside NYC and Paris, Atlanta has long since entered the fashion chat. Lauren boasts,“We will out fashion you all day long. We're navigating our own path. I'm in the right city, that's all I know.”
525 Bishop Street NW
“I think that Atlanta is filled with people who are anxious to express themselves, to gain knowledge about fashion, and find something new."