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Rolls of duct tape at The Duck Tape Experience Store in Midtown Manhattan.

Rolls of duct tape at The Duck Tape Experience Store in Midtown Manhattan.

While I have always considered duct tape to be a remarkable invention, used to do everything from holding diapers together to fixing space stations, I never really thought this versatile tool could be used as an artistic device as well. But my notion was miles away from the truth—a visit to the Duck Tape Experience store in the Garment District opened my eyes to the cool quotient of duct tape.

Sponge Bob Square-Pants wasn't the only animated celebrity around--Hello Kitty, Spider-Man and others made their presence felt as well.

SpongeBob SquarePants wasn’t the only animated celebrity around–Hello Kitty, Spider-Man and others made their presence felt as well.

Some of the quirky patterns at the store--the flying pigs design is one of Duck Tape senior category manager Ami DeWille's favorites.

Some of the quirkier patterns at the store–the flying pigs design is one of Duck Tape senior category manager Ami DeWille’s favorites.

Beliebers: rejoice! Now you can cover EVERYTHING you have with Justin Bieber.

Beliebers: rejoice! Now you can cover EVERYTHING you own with Justin Bieber.

Walking into the Duck Tape brand duct tape pop-up store was like walking into a riot of color—I couldn’t find any of the drab silver tape I was familiar with in this space. Instead, the rolls of tape here were available in an assortment of colors and patterns. The variety was rather amazing—there was tape covered with everything from gleeful flying pigs to a rather sullen-looking Justin Bieber, Hello Kitty to Sponge Bob Square-Pants, and much, much more.

A pair of shoes and a handbag made out of duct tape.

A pair of shoes and a handbag made out of duct tape by 2012’s Stuck at Prom finalists Alexa and Austin.

Vibrant roses made out of duct tape.

Vibrant corsages made out of duct tape.

As to what can one do with all these patterns—examples of their potential were strewn around the store. After seeing the intricate flowers and the flashy shoes and handbags, one visitor to the store exclaimed, “Who knew one could do all this with duct tape!” Fashion enthusiasts will especially enjoy the costumes and jewelry showcased in the store, some of which were made in an episode of this season’s Project Runway.

This was the winner of the Project Runway challenge with duct tape. Designers: Michelle Lesniak Franklin and Amanda Valentine.

This dress was the winner of the Project Runway challenge with duct tape. Designers: Michelle Lesniak Franklin and Amanda Valentine.

Detail from another dress made in the Project Runway challenge, using denim duct tape. Designers: Kate Pankoke and Tu Suthiwat Nakchat.

Detail from another dress made in the Project Runway challenge, using denim duct tape. Designers: Kate Pankoke and Tu Suthiwat Nakchat.

The store also contained dresses made by American teenagers participating in Duck Tape’s 13-year-old Stuck at Prom scholarship contest, in which high school students around the country are invited to construct their entire prom outfit(s) out of duct tape, and the winners receive cash prizes for both themselves and their schools. (Note: the 2013 contest is currently underway—the entry period ends June 10, 2013.)

A prom dress made out of duct tape.

Another Project Runway dress. Designers: Benjamin Mach and Joe Segal

Detail from a prom dress made out of duct tape.

Detail from a Project Runway dress. Designers: Matthew Arthur and Emily Pollard.

As I walked around the brightly colored space, store manager Kevin Bedwell and his assistants were on-hand to help with any doubts or queries. “This is the first time that Duck Tape has done a full storefront,” he said. He said that while the store’s primary intention is to give people a great, fun experience, Duck Tape is also donating a portion of all sales made at the store to Autism Speaks, an autism advocacy organization that promotes autism research and awareness.

Kevin Bedwell, store manager at The Duck Tape Experience Store.

Kevin Bedwell, store manager at The Duck Tape Experience Store.

One of the store's scene-stealers--a giant shoe made, once again, out of duct tape.

One of the store’s scene-stealers–a giant shoe made, once again, out of duct tape.

While visitors to the store were eager to snap pictures of themselves next to the store’s centerpieces (a giant shoe and a giant handbag, both made out of duct tape, were the general favorites), many were also stocking up on the colorful tapes on sale. Fashion designer Ivy Supersonic was one such happy shopper. “I think this is one of the coolest stores I have seen in my life!” she said. “It’s a great little pop-up, and it’d be a great long-time store in this location.”

Fashion designer Ivy Supersonic posing with one of her purchases from the store.

Fashion designer Ivy Supersonic posing with one of her purchases from the store.

Jewelry made with duct tape.

Jewelry made with duct tape.

But the Duck Tape pop-up store is here in New York only for a temporary stay—New Yorkers have until April 28th to visit this one-of-a-kind store. With over 200 different colors and patterns to choose from, this store is certain to change the way you look at duct tape—as Duck Tape’s senior category manager, Ami DeWille, told me in an interview: “Duct tape has gone from tool to cool.”

Wallets and satchels designed with duct tape.

Wallets and satchels designed with duct tape.

The Duck Tape Experience pop-up store can be found until April 28th at 1411 Broadway in the Garment District and is open on weekdays from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m., Saturday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Sunday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Get in touch with the author on Twitter: @thisisaby.

 

10 Comments

  1. A camel print duck tape or hieroglyphics would be really cool to have.

  2. Would love, love to have a store like this near my part of California.

  3. Isahury says:

    I would like to know when I the next pop up store in manhattan or anywhere in new York ??

  4. Samantha says:

    When are you open in NYC. I wanted to take a trip there but people say that it is there for only a limited time?

  5. gummy bear says:

    cool ducck tape yyyyyaaaalllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllllll yall rock

  6. DonMiguelCervantes says:

    It’s duct tape, not duck tape.

    • The store is sponsored by Duck Tape brand, and their tape is in fact called Duck Tape http://duckbrand.com/

    • Kristen Karas says:

      It is actually is duck tape because

      Its History

      There are conflicting accounts concerning the history of duct tape. According to Manco, Inc. (maker of DuckTm Brand tape), it was created by Permacell—a division of Johnson and Johnson—during World War II in the 1940s. Other experts claim that the tape product was invented in the 1920s by researchers for the 3M Company, led by Richard Drew. Most accounts agree, however, that Permacell perfected duct tape during the war. Using state of the art technology, their research team developed a process to combine multiple layers of adhesive onto a polyethylene coated cloth backing. Some say this early product was nicknamed “duck tape” because it repelled water like the bird’s feathers or because the fabric mesh was made from duck cloth.

      Regardless of its origin, the military found many uses for duct tape. One of its earliest applications was to hold ammunition boxes together. For this reason, soldiers referred to it as “gun tape.” The Air Force found other uses for the product and duct tape was used to cover gun ports on planes to cut down the air friction during take off. Like many other military products, duct tape was originally colored olive green, but after the war it was changed to the more familiar silver color. Manufacturers began marketing it to household consumers who found a variety of new uses. The tape is easier to use and just as effective as screws and bolts when it comes to holding together the kind of ductwork that is found in new homes with forced-air heating.

      As the consumer demand grew, marketers began packaging their tapes in a more consumer-friendly fashion. According to Manco, they were the first company to shrink-wrap and label the duct tape so that it could be easily stacked on display shelves. This packaging improvement made it easier for shoppers to distinguish between the different grades. By 1999, Manco was selling approximately 5,900 short tons (5,352 metric tons), or 246,217 mi (396,240 km), of tape each year.

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