Aimé Leon Dore, brand founded by Teddy Santis in 2014
Teddy Santis, an American with Greek roots, is the man behind the brand Aimé Leon Dore. Growing up on the streets of Queens, amidst basketball courts, skate tracks and some graffiti, Teddy did not dream of a future in fashion. He worked in his family’s diner on 89th, until 2010, when he decided to open an eyewear boutique in Manhattan with his childhood friend.
I never knew I would go into fashion. I always had more of an entrepreneurial mind. But there has always been a love for fashion, good products, good stories and good design in general.
At the same time as working in his boutique, Teddy developed the idea of designing something unique that would express his aesthetic vision. In 2014, he came up with the idea of founding Aimé Leon Dore. Aimé from the French word amare, Leon as his father’s nickname and Dore as the last part of his first name, Theodore.
It tells the soul of New York, through its different faces. The upper-class of New York, and the bourgeois aesthetic that fascinates those who are not bourgeois, like those rappers of the 1990s who loved wearing polo shirts with pony skin and Timberland boots. That of the subcultures that find fertile ground among the communities of skateboarders and lovers of hip hop culture. Aimé Leon Dore reworks the preppy taste of the American good boy, sewing the Nineties hip hop aesthetic onto it. That of artists such as Nas and Notorius B.I.G. to name but a few. Thus becoming, in a short time, the fulcrum and symbol of a culture.
With his clothes produced exclusively in New York, in order to maintain direct control over quality, ALD attracted the attention of numerous brands that, starting in 2015, invited him for collaborations. The first was with Puma, in 2018 then Timberland and New Balance (which led to his designation in 2021 as creative director of the brand’s ‘Made in USA’ line) and the following year Woolrich.
Its flagship store in Manhattan’s Soho district is famous. With its shop windows on Mulberry Street and its café, it has become a landmark in the city, being named the best menswear store by GQ in 2021.
LVMH acquires a share in Aimé Leon Dore
LVMH Luxury Ventures, the arm of the French conglomerate dedicated to investing in small creative brands, in 2022 acquired a minority stake in Aimé Leon Dore, a brand that tells the soul of New York.