Most of the questions my fellow bloggers and I seem to receive are inquiries for local information - the best stores, best tailors, and so on. These are reasonable questions, to be sure, but it can be difficult to answer them all. For that reason, I’ve compiled this super cool interactive map that should help everyone out, whether you’re just in town for the afternoon or you’re a seasoned local looking for a new place to get a haircut.
I will do my best to keep this map updated and accurate, but understand that stores open, close, and move all the time. And although I’ve tried to be as thorough as possible, I have undoubtedly missed places worth mentioning. For that reason, I encourage everyone to add their suggestions, additions, and corrections in the comments below.
Anyway, here it is (if you’re reading this on tumblr, you’ll have to click the little gray box to see the map; if you’re on tumblr mobile, you’re probably out of luck). There’s a lot of information crammed in this map, so hit the “full screen” icon on the top right to be taken to the original size.
The map is divided into three layers - clothing and accessories, barbers, and alteration tailors. I included websites, addresses and a brief description of the establishment in each pin. There’s a lot of information to digest, so I’ve copied it all below as well.
There are quite a few clothing stores in downtown San Francisco. Some are common and approachable, like Uniqlo and Macy’s, while others like Nieman Marcus and Wilkes Bashford are only for the true ballers among us. Of course, it should come as no surprise that my favorite store is neither of these things - it is small, unassuming, and focused on doing just one thing but doing it well. It’s something surprisingly unique to the Bay Area, too - the Alden Shop of San Francisco.
I know what you’re thinking: “I thought Alden was a Massachusetts brand! It says ‘New England’ right there in the photo!” Well, you’re not wrong, but it’s a bit more complicated than that. Alden shoes are indeed made in New England, and they’re sold at high-end retailers all over the world. What makes the San Francisco shop unique is that it is one of only two stores that is directly affiliated with the factory (the other one is in Washington, D.C.). For that reason, it is the biggest - and best - collection of Alden shoes anywhere.
I’ve never been a cologne guy. It sounds ok in concept, but I’m a bit afraid; it seems so much easier to use it incorrectly than it does to achieve the desired effect. After all, I have met plenty of guys that have bad reputations because of poor cologne usage, but never someone who had a good cologne reputation (if there is such a thing - I guess that’s the sign of using it well).
Don’t get me wrong; I still love nice smells, and I like the idea of wearing a light fragrance. Cologne just didn’t seem to have a good risk/reward ratio to me, so I never bothered.
That changed quickly when I met the folks at Juniper Ridge.
In an airy suite on the 16th floor of the Mark Hopkins hotel, a few hundred fabric samples littered a small table. There was no fanfare, no media release, no press party with free booze to celebrate the arrival of these fabric swatches. Unlike the noise that seems to accompany traveling made-to-measure tailors, Edwin and Matthew DeBoise of Steed visited San Francisco with a bit more subtlety. These bespoke tailors already had plenty of fittings scheduled for their two-day visit, so there was no need to make any more of it.
When I saw that Steed tailors were visiting San Francisco I sheepishly sent them an email, asking if I could stop in and learn more about what they do (even though I have no ability to commission something). Matthew was kind enough to accept, so on Monday I headed over to have my first face-to-face meeting with a bespoke tailor.
In the past I have mentioned that I grew up in a small town in Oregon’s Willamette Valley; this is an area of the country where understanding the finer points of style is not a priority for most men. Be that as it may, I would be lying through my teeth if I said that I was the only style-oriented young man to come out of the area in recent years. One of my well-dressed high school friends is Peter Lee, and a few years ago he turned his interests in clothing into a legitimate business - Harding & Wilson.
Out & About: Tanner Goods Flagship Store - 1308 W. Burnside, Portland, OR
During my most recent trip to my home state I went in to Portland to visit some menswear companies that are distinctly “Pacific Northwest” - the area has a unique aesthetic, and Tanner Goods captures that as well as anyone else. While I was at the store I was able to chat with Colton Tong, manager of the Portland flagship, and learn a bit more about the brand.
In a brief moment of serendipity last month, I happened to come across the Proper Cloth headquarters by pure accident; they were located right next to the Meermin trunk show and I stumbled in by chance on my way out. Needless to say, I took full advantage of the opportunity and had a quick look around.
Over the years I have bought plenty of shirts from Proper Cloth (as seen here), so it was nice to meet founder Seph Skerritt and get a better look at what the company is up to. Their NYC office is loaded with fabric books and shirt samples, and locals can book appointments to be measured in person there.
I was also able to take a quick look at their expanding line of accessories; the ties in particular were quite nice (the cashmere ones - like on the mannequin below - were sold out at the time, but it looks like they’re back online). All told, it was a fun little excursion, and I’m glad I got to meet the team behind the products I own. My thanks go to Seph and the team for graciously hosting a random walk-in off the street claiming to be a “menswear blogger” - in other words, someone that comes in, takes a bunch of photos, and doesn’t buy anything. Thanks, guys!
Coming to America - A Visit to the Meermin Trunk Show
One of my most anticipated stops during the recent trip to NYC was the Meermin trunk show last week. The brand has been getting lots of press in the past year or two and I have been increasingly curious about their wares. The problem, though, is that their shoes are only physically present at their storefronts in Spain and Japan. Their web store is well set up for international orders, but since the shoes cannot be tried on it makes determining the correct size a difficult and somewhat risky undertaking.
I’ve never claimed to be much of a denim head, but the events at Denim Bruin earlier this month reminded me that San Francisco is one of the cornerstones of the denim industry, and that the products found here are some of the best on the globe. Jeans have been part of this city’s culture ever since Levi’s started selling 501s to gold miners (or so the story goes), and have been an integral part of West Coast style ever since.
One of the most famous purveyors of high-quality jeans is A-B Fits, a well-established and well-respected denim shop in San Francisco. The small storefront is nestled away in the North Beach neighborhood and has been supplying San Francisco with top-notch denim for over two decades.
If you’ve been paying any attention to new developments in the men’s clothing industry then you’ve probably heard mention of Gustin - the kickstarter success story that shocked everyone when they introduced high-end denim at a pricepoint that seemed revolutionary (until they told us that it’s what we should’ve been paying all along).
For those that are not familiar, Gustin is run by two Bay Area men (Josh and Stephen) that have been producing and selling their denim at boutiques across the country for the past few years. Each pair is made in San Francisco out of high-quality selvage denim from top notch mills. Earlier this year they abandoned the retail game and began crowd-sourcing their products at the wholesale price. What has resulted is a wonderful rainbow of high-quality selvage denim for the price of a pair of Levi’s.
I recently stopped by the Gustin headquarters to say hello and talk shop with Josh and Stephen. In this instance, I use the term “headquarters” loosely; in typical startup form they’ve set up shop in a friend’s living room and run their operation with a few laptops and iphone cameras. Nonetheless, the two keep a close eye on every pair of jeans leaving in the mail and are always looking for new and exciting fabrics for their limited-run jeans. Moreover, business seems to be going quite well - the team doubled in size this week when they brought on two more employees.
During my visit I made a point to stop by their production facility, which is just a stone’s throw from their living room HQ. Watching the creation of a high-quality product is fascinating to me; I got to see the cutting and sewing process, which occurs - quite literally - right next to some of the biggest names in high-end denim. I also learned more about some of the subtle construction details that make Gustin’s denim top-notch. For instance, the belt loops are sewn on before (under) the waistband, which increases their durability and keeps them from pulling off. The pockets are also half-lined, which makes accessing the contents easier. I also got to feel many samples of past and upcoming runs - from super-soft to super-heavy to super-green, all carry something interesting along with them that makes them unique.
Although Gustin has introduced a heavily tapered fit for those that are in to it, their bread and butter continues to be their original straight fit, which is slim through the seat and thigh and is a constant width from the knee down. I left their HQ with a simple pair of Cone Mill 13.5 oz. in their straight fit and will talk more about it once I get the opportunity to break them in. However, it should be noted that they have been experimenting with other items that are just as impressively priced - in recent weeks there have been natural leather wallets for $20 and belts for $50, with more on the the way. For instance, while in the factory I saw some lovely Japanese selvage chambray cloth that might become a button-down shirt in the near future - stay tuned.
In the end, what’s most exciting to me is that Gustin is taking boutique denim and turning it back into what it used to be - a clothing of the people. At $81-$99, most of us can afford to treat this denim however we want, whether it’s with a myriad of rules, mysticism, and ritualistic non-washing or just a pair of jeans that works hard and gets thrown in the wash every week. No matter how you decide to treat them, I imagine that they will hold up well and look all the better for it.