Selena Gomez’s K-Mart collection made $100 million last year, a number that thrills Tony Melilo, the fashion editor turned designer at its creative helm, but it’s not quite enough. In search of balance, and a bit of elegance, Melillo’s launching ATM, a collection of unbelievably soft, slouchy t-shirts at Barneys New York.
Melilo was having lunch with Mark Lee, the store’s CEO, last year, when he mentioned that he might be working on a new project. Lee said to give him a ring when he had something more than an idea. Nine months later Melilo had whipped up three exclusive fabrics—modal, slub and vintage jersey—and a collection of core and fashion bodies.
“This venture was to get back to something that was for me,” Melilo said. “Working with celebrities, I knew that they loved t-shirts, they love sweat jackets, they love khakis and jeans. So what’s the perfect fit?” The question led to what Melilo calls “relaxed elegance.” His core t-shirts—a V-neck, sweetheart neck and sleeveless—all drape into shirttail hems. “Nothing’s fitted,” he emphasizes.
As for the name, Melilo explains that he got his initials tattooed on his bicep when he was 17-years-old, “There were no ATM machines. I had this registered and I was able to use it so I thought, Cool! I wear t-shirts everyday so if I’m going to do something let’s do something personal and include it somewhere.” Hence the small ‘ATM’ printed on the inner bicep of each t-shirt.
Melilo called, Lee bit, and when the shirts launch in 16 of Barneys’ stores tomorrow they’ll sit inside a black box, a sort of avant-garde take on the cash dispensing machines with which the collection shares its name. “Because it’s just t-shirts, I wanted it to be a branded experience,” the designer said. “Obviously people reference the ATM machine, but what kind of presentation makes it feel not like an actual ATM machine? I thought let’s try and construct this black box in which to present it and then whomever I sell [the shirts] to—Barneys being the one—I’d try to sell it, too!”
The store liked it so much that they’re giving Melilo 1500 square feet inside their Madison Avenue space. Should you want to know just how soft a t-shirt can be, they hit the sales floor tomorrow and cost between $58 and $72.