How a sought-after boutique curating emerging, high-craft fashion—clothes destined to become future vintage—found a home in Lakeside, Michigan. AP Shops’ founder Ariane Prewitt sat down with Stacia Garriott Kass of Sojourn for some tastemaker Q+A.

SK: We’ve known each other for many years, so let’s start with a little history. What inspired you to pursue a life committed to art and craft? What were your early influences, especially as you entered the world of fashion?

AP: Not sure what inspired me outside a love of beautiful things—be it a plant, a painting or a scrap of fabric. My dad loved to antique. He would talk at length with shopkeepers, and I would fill the time exploring and eventually accumulating small collections.

I had my first shop in Wicker Park in the 90s, a combination of new design and antiquity, both primitive and modern. Via the shop, I was approached by Barneys to work on holiday windows, and when they were complete, I was offered a position as visual merchandiser.

Barneys gave me a wonderful education in beautiful things—brands like Dosa, the world of ethical and zero-waste fashion. And with display came research. We were sent the fashion shows on videotape, notes regarding the inspiration behind the collections, and direction on how to merchandise them. It was a great time to be there. I was extremely lucky to work with some amazingly talented people.

A singe pair of woven sandals among soft, linen clothes and home goods at AP in Lakeside, Michigan

You are clearly inspired by travel and experience. When did you decide that taking sabbaticals would become a part of your business plan?

Initially, the sabbaticals were dictated by the fact that I was an adjunct professor in the fashion studies department at Columbia College. The shop’s season would come to an end after Labor Day, then off to New York for Fashion Week, then back to teaching. Winter break in January meant we could travel to find the pieces that would ultimately tell next season’s story. From Spain, we brought back espadrilles in production for centuries. Trips to Morocco, Japan, and Mexico brought traditional craft: textiles, leather goods, baskets, hats, bags, and ceramics.

When I stopped teaching, travel followed the seasonal ebb and flow of the area. The shop is open longer now, and we travel more. I love planning the trips.

You create beautiful moments at AP. Every piece you present is done so with great intention. How would you describe your curatorial strategy?

I love to shop at stores that put together a beautiful assortment—like yours!—where inventory is limited, as is production. The designers we work with may only send us 5-8 pieces with no real way of knowing when we will receive more. I only buy what I truly love, for the shop and for myself. I find that this approach resonates with my clientele—nothing is mass-produced. There are so many options out there that I value the edit.

Regarding curation, I think simplicity, utility, and quality are of the utmost importance. What is the future vintage? The pieces that will and have stood the test of time.

A straw hat, linen tunic, and slouchy teal linen bag at AP Shop in Lakeside, Michigan.

Many of your designers aren’t offered anywhere else in the Midwest or sometimes the US. What made you believe such an exclusive collection could find a home in Lakeside? Did you always believe ‘if I build it, they will come?’

The collections I carry share the same ethos—simple, almost label-less, beautifully made with a traditional craft element, whether a dress, a straw bag, or a silver ring.

Online shopping works for some, but I prefer an in-store experience. Collections that are difficult to find, that you can see in person, ideally bring a larger audience to the shop. It becomes a destination.

I agree a distinctive in-store experience can’t be replaced online. Which brings me to vintage. Many may not know of the treasures behind the walls at AP. How do you work with clients who want to incorporate vintage into a wardrobe?

Vintage clothing is one of my first loves. I was a dealer and collector for years before opening the shop. I’m lucky to have many friends in that world, from Los Angeles to New York. This gives me a wonderful network to access when looking for a particular piece.

We keep a rotating vintage designer archive in the back at all times. I also mix vintage pieces with current collections in the shop. Vintage adds so much depth to a wardrobe, the same way antiques and vintage pieces do for an interior.

With notice, I can pull a rack to peruse or hunt down that perfect, personal, one-of-a-kind piece. A great example is a client/friend going on safari. I found her an original YSL safari jacket—now a cherished, wearable memory. Always, the goal is to feel modern and timeless.

Bright white walls and soft neutral clothing at AP Shop in Lakeside, Michigan.

I could talk to you all day about shopkeeping and what it means to live a creative life but I’m not sure we’ve ever discussed how you ended up in Lakeside. What’s that story?

It was organic, really. We loved coming to Lakeside, and I was always sourcing props for Barneys at antique shops here. This led to opening a booth in Lakeside Antiques. We all need to thank Alan Nimmer, as Lakeside Antiques was the stepping-off point for so many businesses in the community! Alan organized a Memorial Day weekend tent sale, and I participated. It was the first time I met the clients who had been shopping at my booth. Their excitement to connect me to the pieces they loved planted a seed. Next came a tiny shop next to Abigail Heche open weekends only. (Most days, I wore my bathing suit under my clothes so I could head directly to the beach afterward.) To my surprise, the tiny shop was a success, and within another year, I bought and renovated a building to house what is now AP.

An exterior view of the shop amongst trees and flowers at AP Shops in Lakeside, Michigan.

Final thought… any local favorites you’d like to share? Any secrets?

Of course, the natural beauty and the beaches are a major draw. I love to visit all the shops, organic farms, restaurants, bakeries, cafes—there are so many talented people here. It’s a small business paradise. 

I think the secret is out, but maybe it’s less well known that after the ‘season’ ends, the beauty does not.

AP Shops
14931 & 14941 Lakeside Road
Lakeside, MI

words  Stacia Garriott Kass, Ariane Prewitt
images  Jodi Bodtke
June 11, 2024


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