Observe the guys walking down Madison and Bedford Avenues, and it’s clear that something’s happened since Don Draper first appeared in his close-fitting flannel two-button: Men who aren’t necessarily Suits are wearing suits—and an array of layered, accessorized, decidedly non-zhlubby looks. Since last year, sales of luxury menswear in the U.S. rose 14 percent, according to Bain & Company, double that of womenswear. Not surprising, then, is the glut of guy-centric emporiums that have emerged in the wake of trailblazing multi-brand boutiques like Odin, Goose Barnacle, Nepenthes, and the Brooklyn Circus, as well as J.Crew’s men’s shops. Here, a tour through the newest stores, a look at what it takes to open a men’s boutique circa 2013, and advice from local bloggers on where to bargain-hunt for boxer-briefs.
The Americana Importer:
12 Extra Pl., nr. E. 1st St. 212-420-8900
What started in 2009 as a Vancouver-based alt-menswear magazine (Monocle for the urban-woodsman set) evolved this March into a minimal-leaning boutique on a tiny street off the Bowery. Manager (and editor-at-large) Philip Watts encourages East Village regulars to lounge on Artek stools, banter with the chatty staff, and go home with high-quality imported goods—traditional British knits from Margaret Howell ($325 to $550); sweatshirts from the Real McCoy’s out of Japan (from $215); plus other updated takes on American vintage from Workers and Sassafras, two lines previously unavailable outside Japan. Accessories are plentiful, too, with brogues by Trickers ($525) and wool hats by Ebbets Field Flannels ($50).
The Brick-and-Mortar Disrupter:
35 Crosby St., nr. Broome St. 212-343-4235
This new “guideshop” is more a showroom than a retailer: A few days prior to visiting, book a one-on-one consultation with a friendly staffer. She’ll figure out which fits, sizes, and styles of business-casual basics like washed chinos ($88), striped dress shirts ($85), and slim suits ($685; new this month) flatter you best. Then go online using one of the store’s mounted iPads to its website—bonobos.com, where the brand started—to order and have your new wares delivered. After your first visit, you can theoretically replenish your stock with a few clicks, though you’re always welcome back in-store to touch and feel the whole line and try on anything in person.
The Ivy-Style Updater:
J.Press York Street
304 Bleecker St., nr. Seventh Ave. 212-255-6151
More than a century after the prep stalwart was founded on Yale’s campus, J.Press has collaborated with the upstart brothers behind Ovadia & Sons—CFDA Fashion Fund Finalists this year—to update scion wardrobes for the Silicon Valley age. There’s none of the fusty dad tweeds for which the brand was once known; instead, the store is dedicated to an entirely new line that uses similarly preppy motifs (herringbone, flannel, rugby stripes, and so on) but cuts them into modern, slim-fitting silhouettes for a more youthful effect. Gray-flannel sack suits ($1,450), throwback football shirts ($195), and navy duffle coats ($695) appeal to post-Abercrombie urban twentysomethings.
The Mix Master:
127 N. 6th St., nr. Berry St., Williamsburg; 718-599-7091
Owing to a trademark battle, the year-old store formerly known as H.W. Carter & Sons is now Gentry, a multi-brand megashop. The heavily textured, highly patterned heritage-inspired goods range from $100 T-shirts by Our Legacy to $500 coats by Engineered Garments. A strong boot collection brims with British Grensons and Chicago-made pairs from Oak Street Bootmakers, both “bench-made,” by hand, to last (and, thus, starting at about $300 per pair). Additionally, a nattily dressed staff and one big central mirror mean you aren’t likely to check out without someone—employee or fellow shopper—chiming in on your potential purchase.
The Next-Gen Jeans Dealer:
211 Elizabeth St., nr. Prince St. 212-334-1330
Owners Sarah and Victor Lytvinenko named their line after the North Carolina capital, where they first learned from retired factory workers to make their handmade jeans one at a time. Here, their blues ($215 to $330) are housed in a space inspired by a traditional southern home—a foyer leads to a parlor room—and was created in partnership with OMA, Rem Koolhaas’s avant-garde architecture firm. T-shirts ($40 to $80), outerwear ($195 to $450), and suit jackets (from $450) are also on offer, plus there’s a women’s range. Only the pants come with free in-store hemming, done—of course—on a vintage Union Special chain-stitching machine.
The Accessories Clubhouse:
Fine & Dandy
445 W. 49th St., nr. Tenth Ave. 212-247-4847
Patterned silk and tweedy woven neckties ($45 to $65) are piled by the hundreds into vintage trunks—with dozens of suspenders ($49 to $69) nearby dangling from curtain rods—at this jam-packed 300-square-foot shop. After launching online in 2008 and opening a brick-and-mortar store late last year, co-owners Enrique Crame III and Matt Fox now focus exclusively on menswear minutiae. Up to five times daily, they offer impromptu tying lessons with their locally made bow ties ($49 to $65) while also selling hard-to-find men’s spats ($69)—they have six varieties to choose from—plus cuff links ($39 to $49), business-card holders ($19 to $26), and printed silk pocket squares that female patrons have been known to repurpose as head scarves.