San Francisco | A Continuous Lean.

Shopping Mill Valley | Guideboat Co.

Jan 29th, 2015 | Categories: Made in the USA, Retail, San Francisco | by Michael Williams

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A few months back while visiting San Francisco I met up with Tellason founders Tony Patella and Pete Searson. I’ve known those guys since 2009 when I first interviewed them for ACL and over the course of a few years we’ve become friends. As Tony and Pete are good guys who know a lot about what’s going on, I do my best to connect with them whenever I visit the Bay Area. When we met up for breakfast we spoke about Oakland amongst other things, and I told Pete and Tony how I have been hearing a lot about the city and how I was keen to check it out. They suggested a few places that they thought were interesting and I made a plan to spend the day out in the East Bay. We finished up our coffee and right before I was about to depart Pete mentioned a new shop out in his hometown of Mill Valley. “Oh yeah, you’re going to love this place.” Pete said. After checking things out in Oakland for most of the day I headed for my last stop of the day in Marin. And that’s the story of how I discovered something new in Mill Valley and how I came to love the Guideboat Company.

Inspired by a childhood in the Adirondacks, Stephen Gordon founded Guideboat Co. to be an amazing collection of well-made and long lasting things loosely organized around collection of boats and a nautical theme. The beautiful new store occupies a historic old saw mill which helped give this affluent North Bay town it’s name. It’s the perfect use for the long mothballed site that many in Mill Valley had worried would not be preserved. While it could certainly be considered off the beaten path for a flagship store, Guideboat is an enthralling retail showcase for this ambitious new endeavor. Though this isn’t the first retail launch for Gordon. Way back in 1979 he founded another little company you may know called Restoration Hardware. Guideboat’s other founder Chad Hurley is also no stranger to success himself, having co-founded YouTube. After spending a few hours in the shop in Mill Valley, I’d say these serial entrepreneurs are on to something.

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Levi’s Vintage Clothing | Treasure Island and the Electric Rodeo.

Jun 17th, 2014 | Categories: Americana, Jake Gallagher, San Francisco | by Jake Gallagher

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In 1939, as the World’s Fair rolled into San Francisco, Levi Strauss and Co. knew they had to put on quite a show for their hometown audience. The then eighty-six year old company delivered with an attraction that was both technologically advanced enough to match the forward thinking atmosphere of the fair, and endearing enough to stay true to Levi’s down home roots. “The World’s Only Mechanical Rodeo” featured thirty-one wooden puppets based off of real life rodeo stars. These figurines, which of course were outfitted from head to spurs in pint sized Levi’s attire, would spring to life to act out a full rodeo, much to the amazement of the bay-side audience.

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Compelling Characters | Four Barrel’s Jeremy Tooker

Jun 5th, 2013 | Categories: Denim, Made in the USA, San Francisco | by Michael Williams

One thing you notice when you go to Four Barrel on Valencia Street in San Francisco is a decided lack of people camped out working on their laptops. This is intentional, there’s not power outlets or wi-fi provided because the focus is on coffee — as it should be. Granted, some people want to post up in a coffee shop soaking up all of the oxygen, but that’s why God invented Starbucks.

The guys at Tellason worked with the very talented folks at SF based Vertical Online to profile the compelling characters that wear Tellason jeans, including this video and the previous release that focused on motorcycle builder Todd Blugaugh. These short films are beautiful pieces strictly from a visual standpoint, but it’s nice to know that these connections are real and the guys actually wear the jeans. Much respect to Four Barrel, Vertical Online and Tellason for keeping it real.

Related: ACL’s 2009 interview of Tellason’s Tony Patella.





The AETHER STREAM Takes San Francisco

Feb 23rd, 2012 | Categories: Menswear, Retail, San Francisco | by Michael Williams

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.





Revisting Unionmade San Francisco

Nov 7th, 2011 | Categories: Retail, San Francisco | by Michael Williams

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.





We Build the Ladders by Which We Climb.

Oct 31st, 2010 | Categories: San Francisco, Video | by Michael Williams

A look inside the San Francisco Fire Department’s ladder factory, the only one of its kind in the United States.

[Thanks to Terry V. for the heads up.]





STEP INSIDE THE LEVI’S TAILOR SHOP

Jul 4th, 2010 | Categories: Denim, San Francisco | by Michael Williams

Launching today — for all you denim loving patriots — at the Levi Strauss & Co. flagship store in San Francisco (Union Square) is the Levi’s Tailor Shop, a one-of-a-kind customization area with special goods and services. The LS&CO folks have outfitted the Tailor Shop with a chain stitch machine, an embroidery machine and a darning machine (for repairs or maybe just to get the repaired look). At the tailor shop you can also make your own buttons, choose vintage patches, screen print to fully customize your jeans.