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C all it “Gardencore,” “Garden Cosplay” or even “The Invasion of The Ina Garteners.” The aesthetic of those who live for a trip to the nursery is popping up everywhere; we’ve seen gardening clogs peddling fixed-gear bikes in Brooklyn, and gardening smocks doubling as mannish tunics at summer cocktail parties. If it’s chic and comes from a Japanese, English, Dutch or Italian heritage brand, you can probably find it on Gardenheir. Alan Calpe and Christopher Crawford’s three-year-old business searches out the best-made gear and most aesthetically pleasing gardening clothes from around the world. Picture English copper watering cans from Haws or gardening tools from Holland’s Sneeboer; it is no surprise that Martha Stewart and fashion designer Philip Lim are fans.


To get to the root (see what we did there?) of why Gardencore is having a moment and how Gardenheir became a purveyor worthy of a New York Times Style Section profile, the Gazette visited the founders at their house in Windham, New York. There, on a summer afternoon with bird song as background noise and peepers chirping in their man-made pond, we talked about starting their business, how to look stylish while gardening, something anyone can grow and of course, whether one should garden in meditative silence or with The Cure blasting.


What were your experiences with gardening before all of this?

Christopher: We both grew up in Florida (Cape Coral for me and Orlando for Alan), and gardening always felt like something you do when you retire.

Alan: When I left for college, my parents got super into [gardening]. For them, it really came out of trying to grow certain hard-to-find vegetables that are used in Filipino cooking.

How did you guys meet?

Alan: We were both at the University of Florida at the same time, and I remember Christopher galavanting around the art department. But we didn’t start dating until 2011 when a mutual friend was in town. I was an artist living in Williamsburg and teaching at the Museum of Modern Art and the Joan Mitchell Foundation.

Christopher: I was living in FiDi (the Financial District), running a fashion showroom, and then we bought this place in 2016.


From the beginning, we didn’t want this to be a fashion company. We wanted the clothing to have a seasonless feel, and we always looked at items through the lens of 'Is this going to be useful?'

And how did you start gardening?

Christopher: The house was pretty small, maybe 1100 square feet, and then there were woods in the back…

Alan: And we thought that if we cleared some of the trees we might end up with a view of the mountains. The first tool we bought was a chainsaw.

And how did that become a business idea?

Alan: There was a point where we both were starting to get a lot of creative satisfaction out of gardening and then we’d be looking for a birthday present that had something to do with gardening…

Christopher: And most of the sites were geared towards women, and the product was very flowery. And we started to think that there must be other people out there: younger, interested in well-made things, who come from creative spaces. Or just people with sophisticated tastes for whom gardening was a creative outlet.


The site launched in...?

Alan: We started with PowerPoints and Pinterest boards, and we launched the site in September of 2021 with 13 apparel items, many of which are [still] classics, like the Japanese Gardening Smock. From the beginning, we didn’t want this to be a fashion company. We always looked at items through the lens of “Is this going to be useful?”

Christopher: At the end of the day, if your shovel isn’t a good shovel, you lose credibility in the space. I started an almost pen pal-like relationship with Sneeboer in Holland to convince them to sell us their tools.


What’s an easy thing to grow for someone with a black thumb, or who only has an apartment window box?

Christopher: Once you grow and eat your first tomato, you’ll think it’s the best-tasting tomato ever and you’ll be hooked.

Alan: For a window box, geraniums, or maybe a little kitchen garden with herbs.

Did you have any gardening style inspirations?

Alan and Christopher (in unison): Monty Don! [Editor’s Note: Monty Don is a British horticulturist and was the host of the BBC’s Gardener’s World from 2003 to 2010.]

Alan: He has a way of dressing for the environment that’s really beautiful.


Why do you think gardening clothes are having a moment right now?

Christopher: Think back about 15 years ago, when everyone started dressing better to go to the gym and then all of a sudden everyone was wearing yoga pants to the office or a restaurant. It feels like a similar thing is happening now with clothes that have a technical workwear background.

Any style tips for looking good while gardening?

Alan: I’ll wear Italian Gardening Clogs with really high socks and tuck my trousers in. It’s a little bit geeky. A little bit anti-fashion. And then a long-sleeved Gardening Smock. I like to feel protected from brush. Looser clothing is better. I like a boxy cut shirt, so there’s some range of motion and a bit more airflow. And an apron with pockets for tools. Layers are important because the temperature changes.

Christopher: I like a simple Oxford Shirt because it's very functional. You can unbutton it as you get hot. You can wear it as a layer. It’s also great sun protection.


What’s the right way to talk to a plant?

Alan: Gentle coaxing. At times it feels like therapy and I’m just mirroring what’s going on with me.

Christopher: I’ll say anything in any language, so long as it will grow.

It’s controversial, but where do you stand on the music versus no-music while gardening question?

Alan: Some gardeners think it’s disrespectful to have music and that you should just be listening to the sounds of nature. Because gardening can be meditative, my soundtrack is from my formative years, so the stuff I was listening to in high school and college…Belle & Sebastian, Liz Phair, Nina Simone.

Christopher: I’m throwback too when it comes to a garden soundtrack. Not top forty. Because you don’t want to be pumped up. Whatever you’re not listening to while you’re working out is what you should be listening to when you’re gardening.

A few years into it…what has gardening taught you?

Christopher: It has taught us patience because there is no such thing as an overnight garden. We would have been thrilled if we had started gardening in our twenties.


Photographs by Austin Sandhaus

Interviewed by John Brodie