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Fashion Meets Art at High-End Men's Shirt Shop Aksel Paris in SoHo

By Andrea Swalec | February 13, 2013 8:03am

SOHO — SoHo may be more well-known these days as a shopping destination than as a gallery mecca, but in some spots the two art forms work hand-in-hand.

Aksel Paris, at 311 West Broadway, operates both as a menswear store and an art gallery.

Company CEO Yazid Aksas says his European-style men's shirts pair perfectly with the contemporary works on display, including a huge wooden sculpture that spans the length of the narrow store.

"You need to inspire people," Aksas, 36, said. "A lot of people have been doing the same kind of retail for decades — you just put clothing on racks. This is a way for us to connect with the art community and people who enjoy anything creative."

Opened in January, Aksel specializes in Paris-made men's shirts with slim cuts, peppy colors and printed linings at the cuffs — a far cry from the bland, baggy duds sported by many American men. The shirts cost $135 to $155 each.

The gallery and store's second art exhibition goes on display Wednesday and showcases the work of South African-born artist Jeremy Brown, who makes "passionate, abstract paintings while making love."

Four bright canvases that will be shown in the store through Sunday are part of Brown's "Love Is Art" series, which he made by frolicking on canvases with a partner, naked and covered in all-natural paint.

"These were made while making love on canvas," Brown said. "My girlfriend and I made three of the paintings that are shown [in the store], and the fourth was with an ex-girlfriend."

Brown, 31, said he thought fashion-forward SoHo and art were a natural match.

"Most people here are interested in fashion and are art themselves," he added, "just walking around."