Walking into Apt606 is a little like stepping into a microcosm of Lee Hylton’s personality—bold, edgy, brazen. “When you come in here, it kind of gets you in that vibe; you know it’s going to be a good experience,” he says. The newly opened store, which was named after the Doral apartment where he lived and worked as a stylist for four years, marries Hylton’s infatuation with New York City street fashion with his own minimalist approach to dressing. The walls are mostly bare, save for projections of the latest couture runway shows, and the shag carpet and plush leather couches were handpicked before Hylton and his co-owner, Dune Ivan, even decided to open a boutique. The finished product: a hybrid boutique/living room where customers are meant to receive the same one-on-one attention they would get from a personal stylist.
The inventory is just as deliberate, as Hylton hones his fashion-forward taste into a lineup he hopes will inspire a bit of risk-taking. “We want people to be open-minded—stop being a walking mannequin, stop watching TV, and stop doing everything Kanye West does,” he says with a chuckle. The result is a tightly edited selection of labels he aims to put on the radar of more South Florida shoppers. Tibi, BLK DNM, Veda, Superfine London, Surface to Air, and J Brand all have their place, as do an assortment of Miami-based Del Toro shoes—and a collection of Fresh T-shirts, which are Hylton’s first venture as a designer. “When I thought about the concept [for Fresh] two years ago, I pictured someone getting ready in the morning—you’re showered, shaved…. you feel fresh.” The tees are straightforward enough to appeal to a general market. “The T-shirts are how I get everyone to feed into my world,” he says.
That “world” is one cultivated since childhood, and one that eventually commandeered his professional life. Hylton’s first taste of fashion came courtesy of his parents: His mother, a model-cum-denim designer, and father, whom he recalls as a trendsetter in the Brooklyn neighborhood where he grew up, helped instill a love of clothes and self-expression through style. And though he started out as a barber (Hylton owned shops in both Pembroke Pines and Fort Lauderdale), it was his sense of fashion that ultimately won out. “People would see me dressed in Louis Vuitton sneakers at the shop and ask me what they should wear that night,” he says. He began transitioning shop customers to styling clients, and eventually the fashion calls escalated into a full-time business and boutique, and a growing following on social media (he gets many “likes” on Instagram). Now he has little time for much else, which Hylton says only speaks to his obsession. “Fashion is what I know,” he says. “It sounds cliché, but nothing else interests me.”