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November 6, 2012

Quick Tip: Shopping Local


Unless you’ve literally been living under a rock, you’ve heard (and for those in NY or NJ lived through it) about the devastation of Hurricane/Superstorm/Frankenstorm Sandy and the crushing blow it dealt to local businesses. As the power comes back on, the flood waters recede, and mass transit returns, it is more important than ever to support these local businesses so that this storm doesn’t take any more casualties.

To this end, I wanted to draw up a list of some local NYC clothing stores, some online only and some with brick & mortar locations, that I personally really like (and a few new ones that I’ve only recently discovered). Especially with the holidays coming and people beginning to do their gift shopping, supporting local stores both now and with your gifting is a great way to help the economy and those affected by Sandy. And of course, if you are looking for other ways to help, check out www.redcross.org or other local charities who could really use your help. And, Hurricane Sandy aside, these are all also really cool stores that are worth checking out. In no particular order:


Odin was one of the first menswear boutiques that I discovered when I moved to NYC and it is definitely one of the best. Their curated selection of designers like Bespoken, Engineered Garments, Mark McNairy, and Todd Snyder, as well as their own line, is a great stop for an assortment of nice clothes. Fresh off a successful collaboration with Target, they are gaining more national prominence, but still keep their NYC roots. They have three locations in Manhattan at 328 E 11th St; 199 Lafayette St; and 106 Greenwich Ave and are definitely worth checking out.

           
Hickoree’s carries a huge selection of Made in USA product including The Hill-Side (of which they are the primary stockist) and Gitman Brothers Vintage. They also sell American-made candy, body care products, and even some household items (like some really cool rugs from The Weavery). They have a store at 109 South 6th St, 2nd Floor in Brooklyn right below their office.


I ran across Old Hollywood when they had a shop in the Limelight Marketplace and was really intrigued by their offerings. They have a location at 99 Franklin Street in Brooklyn and at 250 Broome Street in Manhattan. From their website: “Old Hollywood is a carefully curated environment of old and new. Our stores are a mixing ground overflowing with jewelry and treasures from over 70 designers. New York Magazine awarded our Greenpoint boutique the ‘Best Jewelry in New York’ in 2009. Since then we have expanded into a full lifestyle brand with jewelry, clothing, and home goods to style your life without breaking your wallet.”

           
I have included Ernest Alexander on this list because of their commitment to NYC and to making all of their line in the USA, with many pieces being produced right in the Garment District (also because their clothes are awesome). They have a location in SoHo at 98 Thompson Street. From their website: “Ernest Alexander New York began with simple idea - create the perfect men's bag using heritage materials, fine craftsmanship and thoughtful attention to design aesthetic. We continue to evolve from this idea, and now offer a variety of distinctive bags and accessories, neckwear, shirting and jackets. Our feeling is a garment should be built to last a lifetime. We craft each of our pieces from the finest materials and pay specific attention to the small details, from our signature wax cottons, to contrasting linings, double stitching, zipper pulls and extra pocketing. We remain deeply committed to ethical manufacturing practices and produce all of our line here in the USA.”


I found Fine and Dandy shop a while back at a pop-up in Chelsea Market. They have a great collection of really interesting accessories and I’m really excited that they are going to be opening up a storefront in Hell’s Kitchen. “FineAndDandyShop.com caters to the guy who enjoys dressing up. He doesn't believe in Casual Friday, nor thinks of getting dressed each day as a chore. He has an appreciation for the well dressed gentlemen of yesteryear and is inspired by their unabashed use of accessories. This shop is for that modern man looking for the finishing details to truly be fine and dandy.”

           
Epaulet carries a nice range of designers, but it is their in-house line that really caught my attention. I really like the aesthetic and their commitment to overseeing the production process from beginning to end. Their website provides five characteristics that they say define their business: Epaulet & EP's In-House Brands, Special Edition and Collaborative Products, Value and Knowledge, Made in the United States, and Conscious Products. They have two locations at 231 Smith Street in Brooklyn and at 144 Orchard Street in Manhattan.


In God We Trust has a commitment to Made in USA. Their own line is produced entirely in NYC with the jewelry made in-house in Greenpoint and the clothing made either in the Garment District or in their Greenpoint Studio. Their stores also carry other local brands such as The Hill-Side and Ivy Prepster. They have three locations at 265 Lafayette St in Manhattan; 70 Greenpoint Ave in Greenpoint Brooklyn; and 129 Bedford Ave in Williamsburg Brooklyn. “Inspired by everyday life, Tabor’s collections, whether clothing, jewelry, or interior design, embody her traditional New England upbringing, along with her obsession with collections, everything vintage, and her irreverent, often dark-witted, humor. Going against the grain of most brands, In God We Trust prides itself on manufacturing all of their designs exclusively in the USA.”


What I like about Save Khaki is the simplicity. It is proof that crazy branding and patterns are not always the best options. Sometimes an understated piece makes a bigger statement. They have three locations at 327 and 317 Lafayette in NoHo and 112 Greenwich Ave in Greenwich Village. “Save Khaki brings new life to menswear basics through fit, feel, and color, with a streamlined, contemporary touch. Our products take inspiration from classic workwear, and are translated into everyday wardrobe essentials. Currently, Save Khaki's philosophy is ‘less, but better,’ which applies to the look and feel of our product, as well our three brick and mortar stores in New York City. Save Khaki is a New York-based company and the majority of our clothes are made here in the USA.”


Assembly New York carries a really interesting selection of goods and is a great destination for that unique or one-of-a-kind item that you didn’t know you needed until you saw it. Their store is located at 170 Ludlow Street in Manhattan. “Started in 2008 as an artisan hub for designer information and fashion resource, Assembly New York is a mens and womens boutique focusing on international and otherwise hard-to-find luxury labels alongside curated vintage and art d'objet. Many of the articles are the result of collaborations with designers and are exclusive to our New York location and website. In 2009 Assembly introduced the in-house collection, designed by owner Greg Armas. This collection is a unisex and uniform range, combining exclusively natural and historic fabrics in a spirit of a future-primitive instinct; utilizing the organic technology of those survivalists before us. Subtlety is paramount and design details are concealed and personal, available only to the wearer. All garments are handsewn in New York City and are available year round in varying and appropriate fabric selections.”

           
I only recently discovered Erica Weiner’s jewelry, and it is really stunning. All of items are handmade in NYC, with a lot of it created from repurposed material, and their commitment to the community and the environment is incredible. Not all guys wear jewelry, which is totally fine, so it’s a good thing that their women’s stuff is just as amazing. The store at 173 Elizabeth St in Manhattan was knocked out of commission for a little while due to the storm, but they are back open now and so worth a look.
           

R. Alexander is a new neckwear brand that I think is really going to take off. It also doesn’t hurt that all of the items currently for sale are Made in NYC. “R. Alexander was created for people who share a love of a more simple time. Combining design practicality with the mystique of ages past, R. Alexander is intergenerational fusion. Simply put, R. Alexander is vintage design interpreted through modern eyes. When you put on a piece of R. Alexander clothing, you can be assured that you are wearing a high quality garment made in the United States of America. Made in the USA is not only a fact regarding our production, it is evidence of our commitment to quality.”

           
Graham Withers is another local neckwear brand that I like that is stocked by several local stores in addition to their online store. “Graham Withers was founded in 2008 by good friends Dave Roma and Paul Hanan in their Brooklyn apartment. Entirely self taught in neck tie production, Dave and Paul started selling their hand made ties to friends and at local markets. Now produced by one of the oldest and most respected New York City neck tie manufacturers, Graham Withers strives to blend exceptional fabrics with quality craftsmanship to create timeless garments.


Ivy Prepster is another neckwear brand with a really interesting design approach. Most of their items are Made in USA and they are stocked by several local stores. “Inspired by the resurgence of the tie in the male wardrobe and the modern prep movement, IVY PREPSTER neckwear reflects the past, present and future of knit ties.  The IVY PREPSTER team has combined knit sweater inspiration and whimsical design to produce a knit tie line that is youthful and classic, yet modern distinguished by its patterns, points and preppy features.”


Can you tell yet that I like ties? Pierrepont Hicks started out with neckwear but are coming out with a complete collection in the spring that I am really looking forward to. All of their current products are Made in NYC, which I always like seeing. “Pierrepont Hicks was founded when a girl from Brooklyn met a guy from Minnesota. Now married, Mac and Katherine McMillan launched Pierrepont Hicks in 2009 out of a desire to make the perfect tie.  After planning their wedding in Scotland and researching bold woolen ties for their groomsmen, they wondered why the American tie brands were mostly silks.  They honeymooned in Croatia along the Adriatic Coast, and learned that the cravat was born there. The first collection of ties was well-received online, and it grew into a brand with a small but loyal following. Now in the 4th year of design, Pierrepont Hicks will launch a complete collection for Spring 2013 to include suits, jackets and pants... and of course - neckwear. “

Obviously this is by no means anywhere near complete, but the point I want to make extends to all my readers. Making the choice to patronize local businesses, whether for clothing, food, services, or anything else, helps strengthen the community by reinvesting your hard-earned money in the places that really need it. Local businesses are also usually more invested in helping the local economy by paying better wages, supporting local manufacturing and production, and giving back to local non-profits because if the neighborhood does well, so do they.

So as you begin your holiday shopping, please consider supporting your local businesses. Local places don’t have what you want? Try the closest big city, or the internet is a fantastic resource for finding some really cool things. Check out some options from a small business (NYC or otherwise) rather than a big box chain to help stimulate the economy in a way that really does make a difference.

Stay stylish,
- JJ

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