Q+A: Monica Patel-Cohn, Two

Two is a Dumbo based brand that designs a modern and minimalist take on caftans, tunics and easy dresses using textiles and saris from India. Founder and designer Monica Patel-Cohn draws on her Indian and Italian background and embodies European and Indian influences evolving from the traditional sari. Since 2010, Two has been committed to reinforcing the importance of handmade fabrics by supporting weavers, talented artisans and designers.

Two has been worn by notable figures including Angelina Jolie, as covered by Vogue, and more.

We stopped by Monica’s studio to talk Two.

*Coming up: Two is hosting an Open Studio Shopping event on Tuesday, July 2nd on 20 Jay Street Unit 212G. Come shop!

Monica Patel-Cohn in the Two studio
Monica Patel-Cohn in the Two studio

Tell me about Two.

We’re a ‘secret’ destination in Dumbo. We focus on creating a modern take on Indian handwoven textile pieces from India. Two is in it's ninth year of designing caftans and summer pieces, like pants, dresses, shirts, and more. We sell on our website and at Barney’s New York as well as in select boutiques.

We often send invites via our mailing list to open studios and events.

What kinds of pieces do you sell?

Our signature piece is the handwoven one of a kind caftan, we now design our own fabrics and also have a selection of caftans made from sourced saris. Our perspective is to let the fabric speak. it is like wearing textile art! We sell limited pieces of each item like art work. The collection includes shirts, pants and tunics in handmade fabrics, manufactured in New York.

We’re a ‘secret’ destination in Dumbo. We focus on creating a modern take on handwoven textile pieces from India.

How did you come up with the name Two?

Two, is a collaboration and coming together of ideas. It represents the merging of ideas and cultures, mother and child, and the collaboration between us,  the weaver, artists, and designers.  I love to find talented people to collaborate with.

What brought you to founding Two?

My father is Indian and my mother is Italian, so I fell in love with the Indian textiles at an early age. My mother is from Milan and worked in fashion. The idea came to me at thirteen that I had to find a way to work with these fabrics, make something an Italian woman would wear!.

When I was pregnant with my second (Number two), I got the opportunity to experiment and do what I love.

I married just outside Portofino in Italy and I had all my Indian relatives come in saris. The juxtaposition between the Italian marble and the colorful saris was beautiful. My Spanish bestie collaborated with me  to develop the pieces. We did a trunk show in Brooklyn and eventually that lead to starting Two. It will be our 10th year in 2020!

Where do you source your fabrics?

I specialize in hand-woven Indian textiles and work with a variety of weavers and artisan groups. Every time I go to India, I learn more about the weaving history and process and the people who spend their livelihood working with their hands, passing down this art. Fabrics can take months to make. A majority of our items are sewn here in the Garment district. It is important to me to support local businesses, which is another reason why I decided to have items created here.

Where do you get your inspiration?

My inspiration comes from home, interiors, textures , art and travel. I absolutely love to travel and practice my Italian!  I’m hoping to get to Morocco and have recently been to Copenhagen. There are so many places on my bucket list , more Portugal, Morocco,  the Aeolian islands, Zion Park, and more!

Tell me about your career history.

I have worked in fashion for over 20 years. My first job in New York was at Barney’s New York working for creative director Simon Doonan.  I then worked for a few fashion magazines And later moved to Italy where I worked for Prada. Upon returning to NY I worked for West Chin architects who I hear has some local projects here in Dumbo!

Dumbo is beautiful. You have the cobblestones, you have the river, you have the best view ever.

What brought you and Two to Dumbo?

I moved here in 2000 with my boyfriend and we haven’t left since. He’s now my husband and we have two kids. We raised our family in the area and we both work nearby. It’s very old school. We love to bike everywhere!

What is your favorite place in Dumbo?

1. I adore the gazpacho soup at Atrium!
2. I get my flowers at La Catrina.
3. The olive oil at Foragers is a favorite.
4. I am a regular at Almar.