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.