The thought of flying down to Birmingham, Alabama just to visit Harrison Limited is certainly something that has crossed my mind. At the end of the day I love clothing, but what I really love is retail. And when it comes to my favorite shops, independent men’s stores are by far my favorites. Case in point: Cuff’s Clothing in Chagrin. Men’s shops in the Southeast? That’s when things get really tasteful and very distinctly American. It’s both an aesthetic and an approach that I have come to appreciate and actively seek out as the true shops of this stripe are few and far between. While in Florence (Italy, not Alabama) at Pitti I spent about 30 minutes peppering the Oxxford Clothes sales guy about his favorite men’s shops, specifically in the Southeast. I wasn’t looking for stores with a more New England spin like O’Connells (I already know it, already love it), I was seeking classic, Southern, gentlemenly, tasteful, understated and confident shops. The Oxxford rep reminded me of Harrison Limited and here we all are. It was the perfect call out and it is an amazing place for true menswear.
This could be dangerous…
IWC aficionados can rejoice, the Swiss watchmaker finally opened a New York store this week right in the heart of the menswear action on Madison Avenue. The shop is modeled most closely on the company’s outpost in Hong Kong, with each model family getting its own themed room and experience. Even though there are different environments for each collection, the rich wood that runs throughout the space serves to connect each area and creates a refined, yet unpretentious setting in which you avoid work while lusting over well-made watches. The expansive entrance — which is set up to be a sort of nautical looking lounge — beautifully houses the popular Portuguese collection. That main room also plays host to several steamer trunks that house the Portofino range.
Slip down a drive way off a busy shopping street in Shanghai and you’ll discover an oasis of classic menswear from England. The Alfred Dunhill store in Shanghai occupies half of the Twin Villas, a beautifully appointed set of buildings that houses both the Dunhill flagship in mainland China and its Richemont owned cousin Vacheron Constantin. The Dunhill outpost is very easily one of the more tastefully arranged shops in the world.
The Dunhill portion of the Twin Villas occupies the first two floors with various rooms representing different categories of finely made goods. Leather bags, travel accoutrements and small items on the ground floor, bespoke tailoring upstairs with the bar and the sportswear rooms. Looking around, it feels like Mayfair for the Shanghai locals (or more specifically, like Bourdon House, Dunhill’s home in London), only without the jet lag. Though, if you fly in to China from New York, Mayfair might be a slightly easier journey.
There’s no question the Aether pop up shop, which the L.A.-based outfitter has dubbed the AETHER STREAM, is one of the most awesome moveable retail deployments I’ve ever seen. In concept the formula is simple, take a 34′ Airstream PanAmerica (originally made in Jackson Center, Ohio — what what), hire Paris-based designer Thierry Gaugain to make it look like a bad ass hybrid den / workshop and then attach it to an especially made Armbruster WWII canvas army tent.
I caught the AETHER STREAM while it was in New York during December, but I never got a chance to talk about it here until this past week when I headed out to San Francisco for the third stop on its tour.
Talking about Shelter Half a while back, I noted the further development of L.A.’s La Brea Avenue as a new little area of interest for retailers. There have been great stores in this part town for a long time, Union and American Rag being probably the two best known and most widely respected. General Quarters is one of the newish shops to join the menswear fray on La Brea. The store got a lot of call outs when I was working on an update to the LA shopping map and it wasn’t until recently that I had a chance to stop by. While the store is not “just opened,” I think it was worth highlighting here for those that don’t spend much time in LA.
Out in L.A. last week, my buddy Nick Maggio took me on a little retail tour of a burgeoning stretch of South La Brea. First stop? The temporary retail spot Shelter Half which is organized by Environment furniture’s Davide Berruto (with some assistance from Mr. Maggio and others). The shop is a mix of clothing, objects, furniture, leather goods and vintage books — all under the concept of made in America. Brands like RTH and Save Khaki (among many others) are involved and have set-ups within the big open space that is loosely divided up between brands. The shop is an interesting mix of stuff and feels more crafty than heritage-y (not a word, I know), which is refreshing.
Before heading across the street for Mexican food from Tinga (which is sublime) Nick and I stopped in and chatted with Davide (who is a really engaging and nice guy) about the concept and how Shelter Half came to be. It’s an interesting play on things, especially because Davide is there most days to interact with customers or people that are just passing by. That’s one thing we love about the Pop Up Flea. It gives people a chance to really interact with the people behind the brands, the people that dream up the things they buy.
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.