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.
The Cheap Vintage Purveyor:
733 Franklin Ave., nr. Sterling Pl., Crown Heights; 347-927-4718
After old-time fiddler Craig Judelman and former librarian Ariane Ben Eli met doing relief work for Hurricane Sandy, the two decided to keep the good vibes going by opening a thrift shop. Though there are choices aplenty for women, the smaller menswear section stands out, with much of it coming from vintage stores and estate sales in New Jersey, Pennsylvania, and upstate. Currently, there’s a YSL button-down for $40, an Oscar de la Renta sport coat for the same price, and vintage Pendleton ($30) and Ralph Lauren shirts ($25). Depending when you go, Judelman or one of his ragtag musician friends may be giving a free show.
The Uptown Bespoke Boutique:
245 Malcolm X Blvd., at 122nd St. 646-707-0070
The guys behind the line 5001 Flavors have dressed Jay-Z for his “Empire State of Mind” video and David Beckham for an Adidas campaign in their high-gloss, trad-inspired streetwear aesthetic—ties, vests, and leather included. So when the collective opened its Central Harlem store last year, the group filled it with similar items to those worn by their clients: flashy house-designed ready-to-wear, from a 5001 Flavors red leather motorcycle jacket ($1,300) to custom-made high-top Android Homme sneakers (from $150), and casual clothing by cheeky streetwear brands like Black Billionaire and Dead Couture, with graphic, logo-emblazoned T-shirts starting at $20. Regulars, like Red Rooster chef Marcus Samuelsson, often swing by the parlor-level boutique for custom tailoring (slim-fit wool or cotton suits start around $800), which includes free alterations so customers can walk out the door in their new threads.
The French Shirt Master:
44 Hudson St., nr. Thomas St. 212-233-0417
Upon moving from Paris’s Marais to Manhattan and realizing he couldn’t find anyone to custom-make his shirts—too many tailors in New York are primarily suit-focused—former retail consultant Manuel Guardiola decided to fix the problem himself: He bought a small Tribeca storefront with his business partner Racim Allouani, sourced an atelier in western France, and inset an online ordering screen into a mirror where gents can purchase bespoke shirts that range from $125 to $295. After you choose from 200 fabrics, twenty collar choices, and fifteen types of buttons, and answer a few fit questions, specs are sent abroad and the finished product comes back within two weeks. All choices are saved in a database to ease replenishment from anywhere in the world.
The Brooklyn Trailblazer:
Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co.
77 Atlantic Ave., nr. Hicks St., Brooklyn Heights; 347-763-1963
First came Best Made Company and its $300 axes. Now, former streetwear-store proprietor and erstwhile Eagle Scout Gene Han has brought high-quality, outdoor-inspired menswear to Atlantic Avenue. As Hatchet’s name suggests, the store is stacked with utilitarian yet aesthetically straightforward clothes that were, until this point, surprisingly hard to find in South Brooklyn: waxed canvas jackets by Barbour ($400 to $600), classic Filson bags ($150 to $300), plus elevated hiking gear by Apolis ($120 to $300) and Woolrich by John Rich & Bros ($300 to $350). And unlike in most of the city’s similarly stocked stores, tents, backpacks, and other actual hiking gear can be purchased for those who want to test the clothes’ durability beyond the concrete jungle.
The Streetwear Annex:
The Good Company
97 Allen St., nr. Delancey St. 212-966-0903
Rather than stuff the 500-square-foot white-walled space with as much merchandise as possible, the three San Francisco friends who opened here last November go for a more arty approach, with (relatively) spare racks, neon waves on the walls, and pillows and ephemera from the tough-to-find line by the hip-hop collective Odd Future. The place carries more than twenty brands that are popular online—some only available otherwise through e-commerce—and the stock (ranging from $5 for TGC lighters to $300 for locally handmade duffel bags) is edited so that each T-shirt and snapback is sold in limited quantities.
The Tailor Shop As Art Space:
311 W. Broadway, nr. Grand St. 888-992-5735
After launching an online suit-and-shirt brand in his bedroom four years ago, French-born Yazid Aksas opened his first store in January, choosing Soho so the space could double as an art gallery. What you’ll find are European-style dress shirts—high collars, brash fabrics (mostly Italian and Turkish), a close fit—from his Aksel Paris label ($135). The Beau line offers custom-made suits, shirts, jackets, and shoes at prices that rival off-the-rack (suits are fixed at $590, with an array of fabrics, buttons, and linings to choose from; shoes start at $250). Artists featured in the gallery are rotated each month, with work by Eddy Bogaert, a model turned painter, up now.
The Coming Year in New Stores
Armoury, the Hong Kong–based menswear mecca that specializes in classic and custom tailoring from Ascot Chang and Drake’s of London and even has its own “eyewear specialist,” will be opening its first New York location in Tribeca (address and date forthcoming). Alexander Wang’s pair of Soho stores for Balenciaga are currently shrouded in mystery (and scaffolding) but will be unveiled by Christmastime. And over in Brooklyn, the very newly opened sporty-preppy streetwear boutique Leisure Life—which sells its own line, plus vintage from Ralph Lauren, Champion, and Starter in small quantities—will amp up its stock with shirting designed in-house and handmade boots imported from Namibia (559 Myrtle Ave., nr. Classon Ave., Clinton Hill; 347-725-3167).