One afternoon in November 2010, Andrew Spargo (left) made fellow bandana-and-pocket square-collector (and boyfriend) Larry Paul a handkerchief out of some vintage shirts. A few days later, he created another—and then a third. “All his sketches started going up on the wall, and then we started playing with color,” Larry recalls. “At that point, we had a mood wall, and we were like, ‘Oh, we have a lot of ideas. Let’s make some of them.’”
Inspired by the virility and functionality of the handkerchief, GREI.—the line that grew out of their brainstorms—was initially all about menswear and creating beautiful, hand-dyed pieces that looked fly sticking out of a suit pocket. “In the beginning, only women who had a kind of tomboy style would wear them,” says Larry. But soon enough, the line began to develop a serious lady following without Andrew and Larry even realizing it. “I saw a women wearing one of our scarves. It was a big moment,” remembers Andrew, whose background is firmly rooted in womenswear—he interned at Bill Blass and worked with Prabal Gurung, while Larry also does design-development for beauty products.
Now, the two spend a whole lot of time dreaming up elegant but completely unstuffy scarves, bags, gloves, hats, and even ponchos for their line from their Manhattan HQ. And the tug of war between the masculine and feminine? It’s gotten easier. “It’s very healthy,” says Larry. “In the end, you work through it.” —jane-claire quigley