Discussion in 'Classic Menswear' started by a-big, Oct 23, 2002.
If you were going to open your own men's store, what would you carry?
excellent topic. I would personally carry a more high end selection, with some other things sprinkled in. I would carry all items of menswear, from suits to t shirts, but they'd all HAVE to be things I would wear. Selection would be similiar to Ben Silver's offerings- interesting pieces that are harder to find. Some smaller, less known designers as well here and there. As much size range as I can stock- something sorely missing from a lot of stores.
Gieves and Hawkes
Isaia (Enrico line)
Luciano Barbera (collezione sartoriale)
Hilditch and Key
I'd set my place up like a mini-Louis Boston, or a mini-Wilkes Bashford. The store would cater to creative types and professionals with a taste for (frankly, faux) bohemian living.
The general tone of the store would be European, with an emphasis on Italian suiting and street and casualwear by an international mix of designers, with a large dose of American casualwear thrown in for good measure. The store would be a head to toe store, and would carry a selection of shoes, watches and other accessories as well as a small boutique optometry.
I'd have a limited but exclusive selection of super-high end formal and business wear by Caraceni, Attolini and Kiton (Italian), mixed in with a similar selection by edgier, but still classic, designers; Paul Smith and Helmut Lang come immediately to mind. Kiton and Attolini would be the constants, and I would vary the other designers from season to season. Charvet, Hermes, and Paul Smith ties would be the cornerstone of that area. Accessories would be available from a number of designers and include a handpicked number of vintage pieces. Formal and business shoes from mid-high Italian makers such as Ferragamo and Prada would be carried.
Much of the store would be devoted to the clothing that bridges business and streetwear, rather than on classic "casualwear". Sportscoats, for example, would be chosen so that they could be dressed up for a meeting with advertisers or dressed down with jeans to hang out at the cafe. The Burberry peak lapel sportsjackets in bias cut, heavy cotton twill of S/S 2002 are a good example. I would buy lots of textured pieces (moleskin, cotton gabardine, and corduroy would figure heavily), in warm colors (look for deep navy, chestnut, orange, sienna, ruby) in addition to classic urban colors (charcoal and black). I would stock Paul Smith, Costume National, Clements Ribeiro, Burberry Prorsum, John Varvatos, Miu Miu, Helmut Lang, as well as any other designers that caught my eye for any given season. I like details like embroidery and epaulets on shirts. I think that jackets and shirts are the cornerstone of any wardrobe, and would stock up on those. I'd also throw in some classic pieces like cashmere sweaters by Loro Piana, either to be worn in an understated way, or by some hipster looking for "geek chic".
I'd obviously have a great selection of jeans. Paper Denim, APC, Seven, Levi's Red and Levi's Premium would be tops. I'd also carry Frankie B., Hippie, and some of the moment styles by Alexander MacKenzie in addition to my classic styles. Streetwear tops and shirts by Obedient Sons, PDC, Frankie B., and other small, independent makers would be carried.
Shoes and trainers by Clarks, Puma, Adidas, Prada (but not Prada Sport.), Gola, Kickers, Costume National and Paul Smith would be carried. I'd also try to get some vintage, deadstock sneakers in.
My touchstone, however, would be my little optometry. I'd have an optometrist attached stocking funky AND classic glasses by the likes of LA eyeworks, Pro Designs, Dolce & Gabbana Titanium (saw them, love them), Oliver Peoples, Alain Mikli, Paul Smith, and La Font. Sunglasses by the same makers would also be carried.
Well, there you go.
Interesting thought experiment. My store would be based (like everyone else's who responded) on extremely high quality, high concept designs from collections that I've found to be consistently good over time. My store would be in a moderate-sized market with little competition. Come to think of it, Atlanta would be perfect. Also, I would focus on some of the designers I grew to like in Europe who are relatively unknown in the USA. I would also try to have interesting things that normal people can afford, not just the most esoteric bespoke goods. (The point of this strategy is two-fold. First, to sell more stuff. Second, to draw people into the store and develop a taste in them for the stuff I'd carry.) I would not try to compete with the Saks/Neimans/Bergdorfs/Barney's of the world by carrying Brioni, Kiton, Zegna, Canali, Armani, Ralph Lauren Purple Label, etc. But except for that, my inspiration would come mostly from my own closet. Besides that, I'm limiting myself to things I've seen outside of single-marque boutiques (bespoke excepted). Some of the lines I would like my hypothetical emporium to carry are as follows: Tailored clothing I would try to get a relationship with either Knize in Vienna or Max Dietl in Munich for my bespoke customers. In ready-to-wear, I would carry pieces by Knize, Salvatore Ferragamo, Etro, Rene Lezard, Joop. by Wolfgang Joop, Martin Margiela, Paul Smith, Valentino, and probably Cerutti once Roberto Menichetti gets going there. Outerwear Of course, I would stock Loro Piana jumpers. Their coats, too. In addition, I'd carry selections from Ferragamo, Etro, Rene Lezard, Paul Smith, and C.P. Company Shirts Ferragamo, Etro, Paul Smith, PS Paul Smith, Joop., Hilditch & Key, Jhane Barnes, Mulberry, Valentino, Issey Miyake, Martin Margiela, and probably a house line made by Jacques Britt. I'd have a nice mix of conservative and wild shirts, biased towards the wild side. Sportswear Ferragamo, Rene Lizard, Etro, Joop., Paul Smith, Lacoste. Jeans Sisley if I could carry them, Energie, Helmut Lang, Diesel, Martin Margiela, Ferragamo, Levi's Premium, Levi's 501. Shoes Classic shoes by Ludwig Reiter, Alden (especially their shell cordovan variants), Ferragamo, Tod's, and Mezlan. Perhaps Lobb monkstraps, too. Trainers selected from Reiter Sport, Tod's, Adidas, Lacoste, Diesel, and New Balance. (Why NB? I love their "all terrain" running shoes. I only wear them for running, but still.) Accessoires Ties: Ferragamo, Paul Smith, Roberto Cavalli, Jhane Barnes, and Bulgari (I gotta have some seven-folds.). Pocket squares: Paul Smith, Roberto Cavalli, a house-line made of high-quality Swiss/Egyptian/Sea Island cotton and/or linen. Leathergoods: Ferragamo, Mulberry, Dirk Schoenberg Cologne: Creed, Helmut Lang, Alfred Dunhill Undergarments: Wolford, Hanro Watches: Bulgari, JLC, Glashuette, Swatch. Cufflinks: Bulgari, Paul Smith, Ferragamo, Joop., a house label, a selection of vintage 'links, and knots sold either singly or by the jar in various colour combinations. Glasses: Bulgari, ic.-berlin, Freudenhaus, Silhouette maybe once Don Rumsfeld stops defiling them. Obviously I wouldn't carry everything from all of those lines.I'd cherry pick. Why? Well, consider a display of all the shoes Mezlan makes in a given season. What an eyesore. Â However, every season they have some great shoes that are comparatively inexpensive.) In general, my "anchor" lines would be Ferragamo, Rene Lezard, and Paul Smith, though. Size-wise, I would make sure that everything I carry is always available for the tallish gym rat (sizes 52-56). Peace, JG
Reading Joe's post, I realized that I made some rather important omissions. In my casualwear/streetwear department, of course I would stock Martin Margiela, and probably Dries van Noten as well. And I would add Etro to my list of core brands. It is rather difficult to find any store with a good collection of their terrific shirts and ties, and the funky classic details on their outwear, a lively orange lining and brushed velvet lapels on an overcoat, for example, mnake it a standout, in my eyes. If I had to make the choice, I might cut out John Varvatos clothing (rather boring recently, and not in particularly good materials), but I would certainly keep his leather goods, especially his messenger bags. I might also add Rugby North America messengers.
I would also carry sneakers by Le Coq Sportif (there was a brown suede trainer from this summer that is number one on my list of regret I didn't buy it.)
Another comment on Joe's post.
In general, a terrific selection. However, although you've avoided most conflict with Saks/Neiman's etc.. by skipping over the Ralph Laurens and Armanis, most of the brands you carry, with the exception of Europe only brands like Joop., are actually already carried in a lot of upper end department stores. Bloomingdales, for example, carries a large selection of CP Company, Jhane Bharnes is essentially a Neiman's house brand, and even Macy's carries Roberto Cavalli these days (though it seems to just sit there while Kenneth Cole and DKNY flies off the shelves.) I think that I even saw Loro Piana, Malo, and TSE sweaters on Macy's sales racks after Christmas last year.
I think that the secret may be in the particular editing of your collections. That is the secret of say Maxfield in L.A. They carry Prada and Armani, sure, but they have pieces that no one else had the panache to pick up. I think that, as wel as relying on my own tastes, I would spend a lot of time looking for a real genius to be my head buyer.
Well, no, Jhane Barnes has her own boutiques. The selection at NM is rather limited, even though NM carries a lot of volume. If I were to open a store, it'd be a vintage shop. If I wanted new stuff, I'd just shop at all the stores you guys would open.
Maybe we need to find someone with retail venture capital....
I actually knew that. Â I just made the comment about Jhane Barnes (vaguely funny story about how the "h" got into the label name) because I've never seen Jhane Bharnes at any other multibrand store, and it seems that her stuff serves the same purpose that Perry Ellis, Claiborne and Alfani (which is the only actual proprietary brand of the list) serve for Macy's, albeit at a higher pricepoint. Â IMO, the quality is reasonable for the price, but the materials are nothing spectacular and the styling is often pedestrian.
BTW, pstoller, we miss your posts around here.
I think she has an exclusive w/NM. I'm sure it's paid off, but I sometimes wonder if it's made her lazy, design-wise. Some years ago, she was doing more interesting things with a wider array of garments, but now it's just the CG prints on the sweaters, shirts, ties and socks that are distinctive: everything else is pretty anonymous. Disappointing for someone who started out styling rock & rollers. What'd you hear about the H? All I ever heard was that she thought "Jane" was boring, so she stuck the H in there.
Aw, shucks. Wedding-related stuff got the best of me for a while. Lately, I've been "slumming" in the GQ forum (along with Bengal-Stripe, RIT Style Guy, and occasionally yourself), where they need all the help they can get. I still keep up w/my reading here, but I haven't had much to add on the current subject matter. You know, as a married man, I have to learn to keep my mouth shut when I have nothing to say...and sometimes, even when I don't.
I read the GQ forum from time to time, but usually keep my posts there anonymous (although I'm sure anyone familiar with my posts here would recognize them there as well). That forum, in contrast to this, and to a lesser extent, the Modernman forums, is very poorly run.
GQ is barely "run" at all. At least they come in once a day and delete the spam now. It's also awful BBS software. The software here is vastly superior...the occasional double-posting notwithstanding.
I haven't been to ModernMan. Is it worth reading?
Scratch that: I have been there. I think I even posted there once. I just didn't go back. Since several of our better posters are active in the forums, they are, naturally, worth a visit. The articles seem long on smarmy wit and short on useful info, though. That's a whole lotta layout for such limited content.
The Modernmen are a little too conservative for my taste, and it seems like a lot of them are enamored of brands like Jos. A.Banks and Brooks Brothers. Some rather naive questions posted from time to time (a typical question might be "What can I wear with an olive sportsjacket" and I would wager that more posters on this forum generally have a greater interest and deeper understanding (such that it is) of designers and designer related issues. There are also several trolls on that forum who range from mildly amusing to annoying. However, there are several knowledgeable people on that forum (manyof whom also post here), and I do enjoy it, although my severe criticisms of Alan Flusser have been heckled there from time to time.
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