Retail | A Continuous Lean.

Frances May | One Step Ahead

Apr 18th, 2014 | Categories: Al James, Portland Oregon, Retail | by Al James

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In the last two years Portland has seen an influx of established shops from around the country (Jack Spade, Steven Alan, Imogene + Willie) pop up next to some of the city’s home-grown Northwest retailers (Tanner Goods, Danner Boots, Poler, Nau, Filson). This combination of new and old, local and out-of-town, has created a mix that has finally started to give the city a bit of its own unique and diverse shopping scene. Yet even with all these new faces, one retailer continues to stand out in the crowd as a favorite – Frances May.

For the past six years, under the guidance of owner Pamela Baker-Miller and her Grandmother (and co-owner) Connie Codding, Frances May has been Portland’s most reliable shop for high quality mens offerings. Their selection is always evolving, always ahead of the curve and always classic. While they were early supporters of American labels like Gitman Vintage and Pendelton’s Portland Collection, they’ve continued to add to that base with more hand-picked clothing lines from across Europe and Canada (Common Projects, Our Legacy, Monitaly, Folk). The unifying theme being that each piece is extremely well made, wearable day in and day out and effortlessly timeless. These are the pieces that you wear for years, not just a season or a few months.

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Goods For the Study | McNally Jackson

Feb 7th, 2014 | Categories: Jake Gallagher, New York City, Retail | by Jake Gallagher

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If there’s one thing literary types enjoy more than reading books, it’s talking about them. The status of the traditional written word has become a hotly contested debate ever since the advent of e-books and tablets, which, for some, have turned hard-bound texts into little more than decorative ephemera.

For those that still hold steadfast to our papers and pens, McNally Jackson’s Goods for the Study store is an analog oasis in an increasingly digital sea. The shop, which is an off shoot of the McNally Jackson bookstore just around the corner on Prince Street, responds to all these hi-tech textual innovations by reminding us all of the value of merely putting paper to pen. You could say that Goods for the Study is one part practical shop for the city’s never-ending supply of wordsmiths, and one part museum to the written word itself. They layout is reminiscent of the sort of design store you’d expect to find in Tokyo, not on Mulberry Street, and the product range is a clear reflection of this meticulous approach.





Now What? | Talking Shop with Carson Street Clothiers.

Jan 30th, 2014 | Categories: A Conversation With, Jake Gallagher, Retail | by Jake Gallagher

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Don’t let the small store-front fool you, Carson Street Clothiers is a veritable mecca of modern menswear. Located on Crosby Street (Carson Street is a nod to the street where the shop’s owners Brian Trunzo and Matt Breen lived together in Philadelphia), CSC instantly became a true “destination store” from day it opened its doors this past year, catering to a savvy clientele of style obsessives young and old.

The store’s stock nimbly melds forward thinking sportswear, with traditional tailoring in a style that has been endearingly labeled as “neo-geezer.” For all stores though the first year is a learning process, and for a store of Carson Street’s size both physically and in the number of brands, there’s a lot to be learned. We spoke with Trunzo about what he’s learned, where the store’s heading, and what it’s like find new brands.

ACL: Since Carson Street opened this past year you all have added several new brands to your roster, some of which are entirely new and some of which are just new to your shop, so what do you look for when buying a new brand?

Brian Trunzo: “Breaking” new brands is something in which we take great pride, but it is a tricky and even dangerous activity. Since we approach buying from a “fan-first” basis, the threshold issue is whether we love the product and find it intriguing enough to make it into our own wardrobes. This is a pretty easy threshold to cross, though, seeing how much amazing stuff is being produced every season, so then we ask ourselves whether we truly believe that the brand in question would add something new to our shop. Once we’ve answered this question, more questions need to be answered: would our customer be interested in this product? would this product potentially cannibalize the sales of another brand we already carry? does this new brand seem financially viable enough to deliver to us on time and not fold and disappear in six months? Once we’ve answered all these questions, then we can decide the brand or product’s place in our shop. Yeah, it’s an exhausting activity.





The Armoury Hong Kong Arrives In New York.

Dec 17th, 2013 | Categories: Jake Gallagher, New York City, Retail | by Jake Gallagher

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We New York shoppers are a spoiled sort. It seems that at least once a month a brand new store opens its doors, adding their name to the ever-growing list of boutiques that run from Wall Street to Washington Heights. And yet, it’s never enough. As New Yorkers we constantly clamor for more. More stores. More brands. More, more, more.

The Armoury New York is a store good enough to silence all of these cries.

Positioned on a fittingly tranquil street in TriBeCa, a neighborhood that is more often associated with Scorcese than shopping, TANY is the brand’s first outpost outside of Hong Kong. Although, to simply describe the shop as a New York location for a Chinese-based label would be too elementary. The Armoury is not distinguished by where they’re from, they’re distinguished by where their products are from.





Celebrate What You Already Own.

Nov 29th, 2013 | Categories: Retail | by Michael Williams

To be completely honest, Black Friday is a very bewildering time for me. I don’t know how to properly evaluate such a wildly excessive day in this consumer-obsessed country. This is especially conflicting for me because of this blog, a thing many view as a cheerleader of consumption. Over the past few years I have been more and more skeptical of Black Friday and have been exasperated by what has transpired on both sides of the register. Could you imagine being literally trampled to death in a big box retailer at 4am trying to buy a cheap flat screen t.v.? I’m having a hard time finding a more tragic way to go.

This year the lines have been drawn slightly more clearly and the madness seems to be escalating and dissipating at the same time. The way things are going Black Friday and the national retailers seem poised to triumph over Thanksgiving. Some stores opened earlier than ever on Thursday and a few retailers shockingly stood up for the family holiday, advocating people actually spend time with their families. For better or worse, Black Friday has become a retail arms race. While I understand that the retailers want to try to capture as much of the holiday shopping dollars as possible (it seems it is a zero sum game; they do have stockholders to answer to after all) and many Americans want to stretch their own dollar as far as it can go to give their families a good life; it is still amazing to me that apparently nothing is scared in the quest for retail success, including one of America’s most significant family holidays. Is it really all worth it?





Club Monaco’s New Flatiron Flagship

Nov 20th, 2013 | Categories: Jake Gallagher, Menswear, New York City, Retail | by Jake Gallagher

CLUB MONACO Opens Global Flagship Store in New York City on Renowned 5th Avenue

Whatever they’re drinking over there at Club Monaco, I want some of it. Throughout the past few years the formerly conventional brand has sprouted into a bona fide menswear Mecca, bringing quality goods and innovative designs to men not just here in America, but across the world. Under the careful guidance of Aaron Levine the vice president for menswear, Club Monaco has positioned themselves as a powerhouse in this industry, shaping the look of menswear in the twenty-first century in a way that few, if any, brands of its scale can. Club Monaco isn’t merely building a brand; it’s building an empire.

This week, Club Monaco unveiled the crown jewel of their flourishing empire, in the form of a renovated flagship store on New York’s Fifth Avenue. The two level location features not only the full breadth of Club’s collections, but also packs a coffee shop and a Strand book store, lending new meaning to the phrase “destination store.” While the upstairs, which houses the women’s line is light and airy, the lower level men’s shop adopts a more brooding atmosphere, complete with dark wood accents and fixtures fit for a New England country house. It’s more about where we are going than where we have been. The shop goes beyond rugged and industrial to strike the just the right note.

CLUB MONACO Opens Global Flagship Store in New York City on Renowned 5th Avenue

CLUB MONACO Opens Global Flagship Store in New York City on Renowned 5th Avenue





Shopping London | Trunk Labs

Oct 31st, 2013 | Categories: London, Men's Stores, Retail | by Michael Williams

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The City of Westminster is considering renaming Chiltern Street to Monocle Row. The magazine’s spin offs occupy several storefronts on this quaint corner of Marylebone with a Monocle café and the Trunk marque, which now includes both a men’s clothing store and a (fairly) recently opened accessories store called Trunk Labs.

The shop has thoughtful selection from brands like Alden, Rimowa luggage, Sanders & Sanders, London Undercover, Aspesi and many more. It feels English, European and Japanese all at the same time. It’s the kind of place that makes you want to buy a ceramic dish, a pen from Japan and a cashmere throw. It’s a store for discovering something new and for buying gifts for yourself.