Store Visit

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Launched in 2009, Vancouver’s Inventory Magazine was one of a series of crucial publications (both online and off) from the late aughts, which helped shake me from the remarkably unremarkable look of the mundane “menswear starter skit,” and introduced me to a more idiosyncratic side of menswear. It was in Inventory’s pages that I first saw the intersection of East Coast Ivy, Japanese innovation, and European heritage, and it was also where I was introduced to names such as The Real McCoy’s, Arc’teryx Veilance, and Inverallan.

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About a year after their first issue was published, the Inventory team opened up a brick and mortar location in Vancouver, as a psychical manifestation of the magazine. Much like their bi-annual publication, the Inventory store featured a small group of niche designers, and in turn rewarded its customers with access to items that were forward thinking, yet still decidedly wearable. For year now, I’ve always been a bit disappointed that I’ve never had a chance to actually make it up to Inventory’s brick and mortar store in Canada, so I was thrilled this weekend when I heard that Inventory had very quietly opened up a spot here in New York over the weekend.

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After making it’s debut half a year ago, J. Press’ York Street collection finally hit stores this past month. Coinciding with the launch of the line, and as a continuation of J. Press’ efforts to win over a younger audience, the brand decided to open up a York Street flagship, the first such store of it’s kind, in New York’s West Village. Situated on Bleecker Street, which is rapidly becoming one of the most important blocks for shopping in the entire city, the York Street flagship has been unofficially open for roughly a month now, but it wasn’t until this past Tuesday night that the team over at J. Press and Ariel and Shimon Ovadia of Ovadia & Sons, (the duo behind the collection), properly flung open the doors to christen the new space.

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To say this post is long overdue would be an understatement.  I first visited C.H.C.M. a few months before I moved to New York, stumbling into the store about half a year after the brick and mortar shop first opened, and ever since it’s reigned as one of my favorite places in the entire city.  Now that I live in Manhattan, trips down to C.H.C.M. have become a bi-weekly pilgrimage for me, not only to check out the new stock, but to catch up with C.H.C.M.’s founder, Sweetu Patel.  A quick chat with Sweetu can quickly evolve into a sprawling dialogue about anything and everything, which is a pretty damn good way to kill an afternoon if you ask me.  Add to that the store’s array of impressive products and it’s easy to see why despite my best intentions I always seemed to get sidetracked from covering the store every time I walk.  To me, C.H.C.M. is the New York equivalent of the small town barber shop-you stop in, get what you came for, and along the way enjoy some incredible discussions.

But after over a year of dropping by C.H.C.M. I figured it was about time I dedicated a post to the shop.  So, last week, after another hour long talk with Sweetu, I finally got around to taking some photos and sifting through this season’s offerings.  Since Sweetu first established C.H.C.M. (named for his neighborhood in Brooklyn: Clinton Hill Classic Menswear) as an online shop back in 2008, his strongest trait has always been his eye.  The word “curation” has been abused and overused so much over the past year that it’s practically lost it’s meaning entirely, yet if you need an example of an actual curator just look to Sweetu.  With a background in furniture design, Sweetu understands the importance of aesthetics, and he has an unparalleled ability to bring in outside brands that are both hard to find and worth having in your own closet.

C.H.C.M. was not only one of the first stores in the city to carry brands like Ovadia & Sons, The Hillside, and Individualized Shirts, but they also continuously make legendary brands such as Paraboot, Lavenham, and Mackintosh more accessible.  All of those companies still make up a large chunk of the store’s stock, but this season there’s a few new and notworthy brands.  There were a couple I’d heard of before and a couple I didn’t know about till Sweetu showed them to me, but that’s part of the beauty of C.H.C.M.-actually discovering something new.

On this particular day I’d stopped by the shop to pick up a copy of Paszpost, the new fanzine style publication from the incredibly talented people over at “The Rig Out.”  The magazine centers around football and the on-going Euro Cup, but also delves into other topics such as style and travel.  While Paszport was what brought me in that day, it was the rest of the stock that kept me as there Sweetu walked me through some of this season’s best. First off, was a sepia colored double breasted blazer from Ovadia & Sons, which had an amazing narrow wale corduroy pattern, and peak lapels that are reminiscent of a Neapolitan jacket.  Also from O&S, I spotted a pair of navy and white belts which are probably two of the smallest items in the shop but nonetheless stood out for their sailing flag motifs.

This was also the first time that I’d been able to get my hands on some Private White V.C., a fairly young Manchester based heritage brand.  Sweetu told me that the brand was a pretty significant outerwear manufacturer in the U.K. and based on what I saw he wasn’t kidding.  Their relatively affordable quilted thermal jacket in particular had me pining for fall.  This season also marked the first time that C.H.C.M. is carrying Reigning Champ, a brand best known for the fleeces (they do the sweatshirts for Supreme and Engineered Garments) but they also offer solid, well-fitting basics, that just about anyone could use.

Other newcomers include Arpenteur, a French company with a fairly deep collection that takes equally from tailoring and traditional sportswear, a style that oddly enough seems to represent the vibe of C.H.C.M. as a whole.  As well as Twins for Peace, another French brand with a philanthropic goal of donating one pair of shoes for every pair sold.  This might sound familiar but Twins for Peace do all this without the holier than thou attitude and their simple canvas shoes actually look quite good.  But don’t worry aside from these recent additions, C.H.C.M. continues to carry the same great brands that gained them notoriety to begin with.

Since talking with Sweetu last week one thing that he brought has really stuck in my mind.  He said that he didn’t want C.H.C.M. to be one of those stores that sells you an entire image, he just wants to offer a few good pieces that every man could work into their respective closet.  Looking at the brands that C.H.C.M. carries it’s an incredibly diverse list, Drake’s doesn’t automatically match up with Paraboot, and Paraboot might not naturally work with Drumohr, but that’s where the store really thrives.  Sweetu knows how to navigate through a collection and pick out the best that a brand has to offer, and that’s in terms of what’s most popular, or what’s trendy, but it’s based on what works for his shop. All of this adds up to one of the most enjoyable retail experiences out there.  So go ahead and pay a visit to C.H.C.M., say “what’s up” to Sweetu for me, and pick up something you know you won’t be able to find anywhere else.

Founded in early 2008 in Cobble Hill, Brooklyn, Epaulet has quickly risen to success much larger than their two brick and mortar stores.  In three short years co founders Adele Berne and Michael Kuhle have made a name for themselves due to their strong online presence and impressive brand roster that includes GantMonitalyOur Legacy, and Alden.  While the brands that they stock have granted Epaulet a considerable amount of notoriety, it is their own in house label that really sets them apart from other stores.  Epaulet’s ability to create a wide range of products at the highest level of quality is unmatched by any other shop.  By consistently producing top of the line goods and staying up with current trends Epaulet has placed themselves in a league of their own.

From the top down Epaulet’s current line offers all a man needs to outfit his wardrobe. The Daltrey Sportcoat is a collaborative piece made by Southwick of Massachusetts from three different Harris Tweed Patterns; navy marl, oatmeal herringbone, and a gray-green basket weave.  The tweeds come together perfectly in a patchwork of beautifully muted colors, with a blend of several different textures giving the sportcoat a strong dynamic look.  Details such as goat-suede elbow patches and undercollar, patch pockets, and a three-two roll are evident of the thought and care put into the garment by Southwick and Michael Kuhle.  As a solid tweed coat, this piece is perfect for the season while still packing an unprecedented amount of character.
Utilizing the vibrant patterns that Liberty of London is known for, Epaulet has created five classic shirts with an updated modern cut.  As the centerpiece of an outfit, the floral and paisley based patterns are eye-catching and work perfectly when paired with more understated pieces.  Available in both point collars and spread collars, with a double-darted back to ensure a slim fit, and finished off with a shortened length, these shirts are incredibly versatile and could easily work in either formal or more casual situations.
In keeping up with current trends while still creating a great product, Epaulet have updated their well known trousers by adding cargo pockets on the sides. The slim tapered cut exemplifies the level of care Epaulet puts into their products as they ensure the pockets don’t flare out like the cargo pants you had back in middle school. Constructed in a grey winter weight flannel these trousers are ideal for the season as they are thick enough for even the coldest days while still remaining playfully modern.
Epaulet’s collection of footwear includes a wide variety of styles handcrafted in Maine. A particular standout from the current line is the Penobscot Penny Loafer in Western Print, crafted from Chromexcel leather in a beefroll shape and stamped with an beautifully understated floral pattern.  Another noteworthy model is theSomerset Ranger Moc, a four eyelet take on a classic shape complete with a Vibram sole and available in a wide range of colors.  As proof that Epaulet is constantly producing new product, they will be debuting a new line of footwear with Carmina in a couple weeks that is sure to feature some incredibly desirable pieces.

Epaulet’s penchant for producing incredible products across the entire spectrum of design, from sportcoats all the way down to footwear has elevated them into the upper echelon of stores that not only carry quality garments, but also constantly produce pieces that are both contemporary and expertly crafted.

Thanks to Mike and Adele for being so nice and for letting me stop by to snap some photos of the shop.


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