Out and about in Cleveland today, I spent the afternoon doing some last minute Christmas shopping (the last minute makes you the most productive — don’t forget it). Eventually I ventured over to Cuff’s Clothing — one of my favorite shops. I was thinking just last week that stores like Cuff’s in Chagrin Falls and O’Connell’s in Buffalo are two truly unique menswear shops that set the standard for specialty retail in America. When I go to Cuff’s I can’t help but to think how the selection is both classic and modern at the same time, with an emphasis on quality. Cuff’s sells brands like Crockett & Jones, Brioni, Kiton, Charvet, Barbour, Southwick and Oxxford — among others. Also, Cuff’s has what I think is the only remaining Hermès shop-in-shop in the United States. And all of this in a world where many specialty retailers are either painfully boring or going out of business.
Acquiring crushable felt Borsalinos can become borderline addictive. A few Saturdays ago my friend Randy Goldberg and I stopped into JJ Hat Center, a New York institution for hat buying. I was just going along for the ride because Randy wanted to go to replace a lost Borsalino (which was swallowed by an NYC taxi) not at all intending to buy anything. After about 45 minutes, I walked out with a simple Italian-made felt hat that will last a lifetime (if cared for properly).
That’s how things just seem to go at JJ Hat Center — once you are there it is hard to resist all of the finely made hats. Next time you are on Fifth Ave (between 31st & 32nd streets) stop in and see if you can avoid the lure of the Borsalino.
Convincing your best friend to drive you to downtown L.A. to check out a new shop isn’t always an easy thing. As someone that lives in New York I get the aversion to “downtown” — it’s a big commitment. Similarly for me, at times it is difficult to get me to leave my twenty block bubble in downtown New York. Luckily though, my friend didn’t mind making the trip and today we got to check out the new retail arm of maker Apolis for the first time.
The new shop, dubbed Apolis: Common Gallery is a minimal men’s retail store on East 3rd Street that stocks all of the complete line from the burgeoning menswear label, along with nearly all of the brand’s many collaborations. The simple space, true to its name, also serves as a gallery to showcase the content (film and otherwise) from the company’s many sourcing and humanitarian missions all over the world.
While out in San Francisco this past week, I stopped into Unionmade to see what the guys have been up to since I first profiled them on ACL two years ago. First of all, the SF store has grown considerably with a recent addition of the space next door, which in its former life was a dry cleaning shop. The addition more than doubles the selling space and houses a little book area, tons of Alden shoes and the shop’s new Indigo collection. On top of all of the happenings at the original shop, Unionmade is also about to open a new outpost at the Marin Country Mart, which will be the third store for the burgeoning Americana-loving outfitter.
It really is a remarkable thing what Todd Barket and the guys at Unionmade have done. The selection rivals any store in the world, corporately owned or private. In fact, there’s actually a rumor going around that Unionmade is owned by a certain preppy-cum-rugged East Coast retailer. A rumor that Todd says is totally untrue. In my mind that hearsay is easily dismissible because there’s no way a big company like that could actually get out of their own way long enough to make something as good as Unionmade actually see the light of day.
To help launch the brand in the fall of 2009, khaki outfitter Grown & Sewn opened a temporary shop in an art gallery on one of the best looking blocks of TriBeCa. With a few seasons under its belt and a good following with American-made khaki loving gents, the New York based label recently took up a more permanent residence on Franklin Street (again in TriBeCa) catty-corner from Steven Alan’s Annex shop and not far from the Liquor Store.
The folksie crew from the Swedish label Fjällräven (pictured above) opened their New York store (the company’s only American outpost) last November on Mott Street, bringing much of their outdoor-centric gear to the States for the first time. Coming up on the store’s one year anniversary Fjällräven (who is a client of my marketing company Paul + Williams) got together with Jeff Thrope of Cold Splinters fame to refresh the space with all sorts of camping essentials and cool gear to compliment Fjällräven’s Greenland Jackets, G-1000 waxed clothing, packs, tents and other Scandinavian equipment. Basically the store stocks everything you need to have an adventure — and all in one place. I think Jay Carroll put it best when he called the Fjällräven US team “outdoor nerds.” I’ll go ahead and add that they are now “retail nerds” too, since they definitely know how to create an interesting store environment. [Fjällräven | 262 Mott Street, NYC]
After showing off the RRL corner of the newly refreshed Ralph Lauren men’s shop on 72nd Street & Madison Avenue, I wanted to share with you the rest of the beautifully done store. Dubbed the Rhinelander Mansion, the location is first and only Ralph Lauren shop exclusively selling menswear. The expansive space houses every single different RL collection (with the exception of Rugby). This is something the company has never done before, have everything all together in one place. Walking between all of the different collections, between Black label and RLX and RRL is one of the most amazing brand transitions in the history of retail. To switch moods and styles so seamlessly is impressive. As I said earlier, only Ralph can pull something like this off.