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For Purethread owner Jill Heller, styling and dressing women is a calling — one she brought to Shelter Island, having opened Wednesday, March 20.

Joining fellow Bridge Street clothing purveyors Sylma Cabrera of Pure Soul, Marie Eiffel and, of course, the long-standing Bliss’s Department Store, Heller’s Purethread brings a different kind of head-to-ankle experience (“I do everything but the shoes!” she laughs) to the Island.


In the store, which is located on the second floor of 181 North Ferry Road, just above Ram Design Home, Heller will carry designers never seen on the Island, or much of the East End for that matter, featuring clothing and jewelry from fashion creatives she’s hand picked from France, Italy, Australia and Japan, among other spots around the globe.

“It’s about not having cookie cutter looks,” Heller says. “I like to mix denim from one brand and a tee from another and a blazer from another. Putting different looks together to make an outfit, not just sticking to one designer.”  

She also has relationships with the people behind the threads, and already has plans in the works for pop-up events where the actual designers of the clothing and jewelry will be in-house for her customers to meet in person. Right now, events are slotted for April 11 and 12 for the women’s and men’s spring collection from sustainably sourced Handvaerk; May 1, 2 and 3 with luxury jewelry designer Carelle; and May 8 and 9 with a Mother’s Day denim upgrade event with new collections from ASSK NY, Moussy Vintage, Triarchy and TWP (if you haven’t heard: skinny jeans are out; flares are in!).

“Anyone can shop the internet. But if you want the experience with a stylist and a dressing room, and to work on a wardrobe together, that’s very different from online buying,” says the down-to-earth fashionista. “When sharing the right style and the perfect fit for a client, the mood changes. It elevates a person. It’s so fantastic and it really means something.”

She would know. Her father and grandfather worked in New York City’s garment district in knitwear, and Heller grew up with an innate understanding of (and fascination with) the clothing industry. It inspired Heller to jump right into the fashion world after her college graduation, when she opened her first boutique on Columbus Avenue on Manhattan’s Upper West Side in the 1980s.

For her second boutique, Heller was living in Westchester raising her sons and realized there was no where to go for a great, bespoke shopping experience — so in 2003, she created one.

“I wanted to bring a little Madison Avenue to Westchester. It had kind of a mini-Bergdorf feel,” she says. After nearly five years, she shuttered the shop in 2007, envisioning a slightly different type of shopping model in her future. Back in New York City, she created Purethread in 2009, a different kind of retail experience that allowed customers to peruse and plan a wardrobe out of Heller’s Upper West Side apartment by appointment.

“I’d buy from designers I love and that I knew my clients would like to wear, setting up a showcase and styling studio in my home,” she says. “I could fulfill my customers needs, finding sizes and looks, but it was very edited and not all year round.”

After years of visiting eastern Long Island, Heller eventually made Sag Harbor her home, and brought her business with her. When the space on Bridge Street recently opened up, so did Heller’s thoughts for evolving the business.

“Shelter Island is beautiful and quiet, and I personally love coming here to get away from the crowds in the Hamptons. I relax when I come here,” she says. “I was looking for a destination place that wasn’t on a busy Main Street in a town like East Hampton or Sag Harbor, because they have enough already.”

Shelter Island’s perch between the Hamptons and the North Fork also felt just right to her. “You have very few stores where women can go and be outfitted, and I decided to join the few here,” she laughs, and she’s already getting along just fine with her neighbors. “Sylma is Pure Soul and I’m Purethread, and we joked that we should open a space called Pure & Co.!”

For her own unique vibe, though, Heller seems poised to offer something a little different.

“I like to take a woman from morning to night. Casual, clean, elegant and chic. Things to wear with sneakers and sandals and feel dressed right for the moment, and then dressed right for an evening – silk pants and tops, dresses for events one has to go to,” Heller says. “I’m a one-stop shop for women’s lifestyle. I love neutral colors, but also will have pops of color for season. I like a woman to have choices in all aspects of her life.”

Purethread is located at 181 North Ferry Road, second floor, suite C. March hours: Monday, Wednesday – Friday, 12 to 5 p.m.; Saturday and Sunday by appointment; April and May, Monday, Wednesday – Sunday, 12 to 5 p.m.; Memorial Day weekend through Labor Day, Monday – Saturday, 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., Sunday 12 to 5 p.m.. Call 631-880-6420 to make a private appointment.