Posts Tagged ‘Coco Chanel

08
Jan
12

Favorite U.S. Stores #6 – Freemans Sporting Club

Freemans Sporting Club — Welcome. Freemans Sporting Club (F.S.C.) is a very unique shopping experience, specializing in retro appearing Men’s clothing manufactured entirely in New York. I have just come back from visiting their newest store in San Francisco at 696 Valenica Street in the Mission District. They have been open for only seven months. Because I had visited their other two stores in New York City in November, 2011 (that’s right, last year), it is only acceptable that I compare them with each other. But before I do that, I would like to give some background on Freemans Sporting Club.

The Origin

Taavo Somer is the co-owner of Freemans Sporting Club. He was trained as an architect, who turned into an artist and restauranteer. He first opened the bar, The Rusty Knot, which was a big hit, followed by Freemans (a restaurant – located at the end of freeman’s Alley, near Rivington Street) known for its rustic charm and taxidermy of animal heads upon the walls. Mr. Somer did the taxidermy himself. Since that time he has opened two more restaurant Peels and his newest, Isa, in Williamsburg, Brooklyn in August, 2011. Freemans Sporting Club came about as a continuation of the hip retro look that Freemans had instilled, rustic and masculine. The clothing store is located just down the street from Freemans (restaurant) at 8 Rivington Street. It opened in 2006, and in the back of the store is a very thriving Barber shop (just like the old dry goods stores might have done in the late 1800s and early 1900s). The second store is located on 321 Bleeker Street in Greenwich Village (sorry, no barber shop).

The Newest Store Located in San Francisco

Store #3 has very easy access from highway 101, just take exit 434A at Duboce Ave, make a left on Valencia, and go down about a half mile to 696 Valencia Street. It is at the corner of Valencia and 18th Street. When you first see it, you will not recognize it as a Men’s Clothing Store. In fact, it used to be a pet store. On the outside of the building, is “F.S.C. Barbers”, that is the place. When you walk in, you are walking into a barber shop, which is fairly busy, but unlike FSC #1, where the barbershop is in back of the shop, here you walk through the barbershop to get to the clothing shop. The clothing shop is smaller than the other two stores. It is flanked by two friendly salespeople. Because the shop is so small (like the other FSC’s), that if the size you wear is not there, they may have it in storage. Their style of clothing is definitely retro but still quite stylish. The have Sports Coats, dress pants, flannel shirts, casual long sleeve shirts, Henley shirts and several plain T-shirts. They have some coats as well that are made of a heavy fabric which feels a lot like canvas. You can click the link on top of this blog entry to see exactly what they carry. The dressing room is also quirky. There is only one. On one side of the shop, which probably takes up one tenth of the entire clothes store, is a large recess that becomes a dressing room when this extremely large and heavy canvas tarp slides across to stop prying eyes. (The San Francisco store closed in 2015.)

The clothes are all American made. They are expensive and do deserve special care. They should last for quite a long time. My final tally was: a checkered red and black flannel shirt; a beige short sleeve Henley shirt; and a dark charcoal gray long sleeve casual shirt. It is definitely worth a look.

If you are interested in more information about the co-owner Taavo Somer, tomorrow I will publish a reprint of an article by New York magazine regarding Mr. Somer, which was originally published in May, 2008.

“Fashion is architecture: it is a matter of proportions.” – Coco Chanel

06
Oct
11

Clothing Made In USA: Santana Row stores

Main point – Determination of the percentage of made in USA clothing within Santana Row Stores.

I visited Santana Row with the purpose of mapping out all of the Santana Row clothing stores and take a rough estimate of American made clothes in each of the stores. It’s kind of like doing a Google Map of the stores. I plan on visiting a few other shopping centers, in order to accumulate enough data that the reader can look at the blog and see if this store has been reviewed and decide whether it is worth visiting, if your purpose is to find clothing made in the US.

Santana Row is San Jose’s high end complex of stores, restaurants and spas. It is located at the corner of Stevens Creek and Winchester. It has over 70 shops, 20 restaurants, 9 spas and salons, two wine bars, one tequila tasting bar, a theater and a hotel (Hotel Valencia). The narrow main road – Santana Row is three blocks long with the shops and restaurants along the sides. The speed limit is 5 MPH, many of the restaurants have street side dining, like in Europe, and it makes a great place for people watching. This place is so high end that it squeezed out the very popular Ben & Jerry’s (not renewing its lease), because it was not high end enough.

The following is a brief description of each store (in alphabetical order)

Ann Taylor Loft – Ladies wear, medium end. Large chain, found in multiple locations. 0% American made clothes.

Anthropologie – Mainly ladies wear, some non clothing items, medium end.  Large chain. <5% USA made.

BCBG Max Azaria – Ladies Wear, medium end. Large chain, multiple sites. 0% USA made.

Boutique Harajuku – Ladies Wear, medium end, Target age: 20 – 45.  One other store in San Francisco. Many clothes made in Italy, Portugal and Spain, but 0% USA.

Brooks Brothers – Majority Men, medium to upper end, Target age: 30 & up. Many dress shirts, and suits. Large chain. < 5% USA.

Burberry – Mens and Womens, upper end. Large chain. Couple of Raincoats made in England, rest made by Tunisia, etc. 0% USA.

Chico’s – Ladies Wear, medium end; Large chain. <2% made in America.

Diesel – Majority Mens’s wear, medium end; Large chain. 0% USA made.

Eli Thomas – Men’s Wear, medium to high end. Target age: 30 & up. Only store. Many dress shirts and suits. Many items from Italy. A great bet for business type clothing, < 5 % USA.

Franco Uomo – Men’s Wear, medium to high end. Target age: 30 & up. 2 other sites in South Bay. Also has San Francisco Shirt Co. shirts. Many Italian clothing items. Can tailor a shirt from scratch if you would like. <5% USA.

Free People – Ladies wear, Medium end. Target age 20 – 30. 40 other boutiques, part of Urban Outfitters. <5% USA made.

H & M – Men and Ladies wear, low – medium end.  Large chain. 0% USA

Hlaska – Men’s Wear, Medium to high end. Target 25 & up. Only three stores – San Francisco, Stanford and Santana Row. Started in San Francisco, clothes still made in San Francisco. 100% American made. A Must see.

Lucy – Ladies athletic wear. Medium end. Target all adult ages. Large Chain. < 2% USA made.

Lululemon Athletica – Athletic wear, women more than men. Medium end. Target age: all adults. Large Chain. 0% USA.

Orvis – Outdoor Wear. Medium end. Large chain. Despite internet advertising of “Made in America”, clothing is < 2% USA made.

Penelope Boutique – Ladies Wear. Medium to high end. Target age: 30 & up, except for Gowns. Individual store. Many gorgeous items of clothing from France and Italy. Few Canadian items. It is on the less traveled section of Santana Row- definitely worth a peek.  0% USA but < 5 % North American.

Pink Stripes- Ladies Wear. Medium end. Target age: 20 – 30. Not a chain. Many tops made in USA – 50% USA made. In the back, often they have different types of sweets.

San Francisco Shirt Company – Ladies Wear.Medium to high end. Target Age: 25 & up. Supposedly the shirts with the affixed label San Francisco Shirt Company are made in the USA, but no label actually says this. 5% USA made.

Smith Alder – Ladies Wear. Medium to high end. Target age: 30 & up. Individual store. Owner and daughter frequently in the shop most times. Specializes in smaller or lesser known labels, many tops, coats and sweaters made in Italy, Germany and some USA. Many items are one size fits most. Definitely worth a stop. 25% USA made.

Spazio – Ladies wear. Medium to high end. Target age: 25 & up. Only store in USA. Italian designer – all clothes made in Italy or Turkey. Pronounced Spaht – Zee-Oh. Great clothing. Bought a great dress for my wife. 0% USA.

St. Croix – Men’s Wear. Medium to high end. Target age: 30 and up. Small Chain. Many Italian and American clothing items. 25% USA made. Probably the greatest looking clothes around.

Ted Baker – Men’s wear. Medium end. Large chain. 0% USA made.

The Blues Jean Bar – Men and Ladies Wear. Medium end. Target 20 – 30. Small Chain 60% USA made.

Tommy Bahama – Men and Ladies Wear. Medium end. Large chain. < 2% USA made.

Urban Outfitters – Men and Ladies Wear. Medium end. Target age: 20 – 30. Large chain. Internet had advertised “Made in America”, 2% USA made.

Listing of Santana Row stores carrying USA made clothes (from highest to lowest)

  1. Hlaska – 100%
  2. The Blues Jean Bar – 60%
  3. Pink Stripes – 50%
  4. St. Croix – 25%
  5. Smith Alder – 25%
  6. Brooks Brother  < 5 % & European
  7. Eli Thomas  < 5 % & European
  8. Franco Uomo  < 5 % & European
  9. Penelope Boutique  < 5 % & European
  10. Anthropologie  < 5 %
  11. Free People  < 5 %
  12. San Francisco Shirt Company  < 5 %
  13. Orvis < 2 %
  14. Urban Outfitters < 2%
  15. Chico’s < 2%
  16. Lucy < 2 %
  17. Tommy Bahama < 2%

No American clothing but plenty of (OK) European clothing: Spazio, Boutique Harajuku

No American clothing but occasionally European clothing: Burberry, Ted Baker

Do not even bother: Ann Taylor Loft, BCBG Max Azria, Diesel, H & M, Lululemon Athletica. Really you probably do not need to bother for the less than 2% stores either if you are looking for American made clothes.

“Fashion is made to become unfashionable.” – Coco Chanel

14
Sep
11

How to start shopping for U.S. Clothes

You may ask yourself, “Self, where can you find American made clothes?”  It is like a treasure hunt. I call it a quest. There a millions of items of clothes, and 98% of it is not made here. And then once you find these rarities then what? Just like in normal shopping, many questions need to be answered like: Do I like it? Does it fit? How about the price? To help you get started, you may want to use this blog to help find retail stores that are more likely to sell U.S. made clothing. And if you know any of these places yourself, if you could please share that information with us, we would be so very grateful. Or you can start like I did, and many others before me which is to “Random Shop”.

There are numerous types of shopping, bored shopping, pity shopping, social shopping, and wasting time shopping, etc. But when it comes to trying to find U.S. clothes to buy, I would classify shopping into the following types: Random – going to the usual stores, no specific items to look for, looking for something new or interesting or something at a very good price; Semi-Random – As above but going to places that have more U.S. inventory; Specific clothing directed: Looking for a certain type of clothing, shoes or accessories; Internet Directed shopping – Finding U.S. made clothes and using the directions to find the retail stores; Internet Shopping – finding U.S. Clothes and purchasing them on-line. I would recommend a combination of Specific clothing directed and Internet Directed shopping. I have a personal bias against Internet shopping because: 1)sizes are not always the same from company to company (and sometimes within the same company); 2) the picture does not do justice to the actual garment – the color or fabric may look nothing like the picture; 3) how does it actually fit? Baggy, Boxy, Too Long, Too short, Cut funny? and 4) the actual company – is it a PO Box?, does it have an actual store? What is the return policy? Are they worthy of trust? Unless you are too far away from an actual store, I would defer buying clothes on the internet – unless you don’t mind returning things. If you are anything like me, and it needs to go back, it, instead, usually sits in the procrastination pile.

Addendum 5/24/2012

On Internet shopping, although I still am a brick and mortar shopper and I do like to try clothes on to see if they fit, I find the Internet may be helpful in locating clothing made in the USA. First, find a department store that carries lots of US made clothes: Nordstroms> Nieman Marcus> Saks Fifth Avenue> Bloomingdales > Barney’s > Bergdorf Goodman, Macy’s, Dillards>>Kohl’s, Walmart,Sears. Go to department store website. Under search: type:”men’s” or “women’s” and “pants” or “blouses” or “underwear”, etc, and “made in usa” and your search will bring up many of the items you may be looking for. Sak’s doesn’t have a “made in usa” search yet.

Getting Started

Before we start, if you are going to take shopping advice from me, you will have to know a little about my shopping habits, and then you can adjust them to your own needs. First, I am a man, so many of my comments are about looking for men’s clothes, but there are times that I specifically will mention ladies fashions/clothes. Second, I live in Northern California which is very urban with many retails stores nearby.  Third, I don’t mind shopping, meaning I don’t live to shop, but then it is not a drudge either. Fourth, I like nicer clothes, since I have gotten a little older. I don’t buy $8 shorts just because it is a bargain. And finally, I love a bargain. I hate to ever pay full retail – probably because I know how much it costs to make the garment, and who doesn’t love a bargain?

So, when I started my quest randomly, I started at the usual places – the discount stores – you know “Designer names at discount prices”  places: Ross, T.J. Maxx, Burlington, and Marshall’s.  I found almost nothing  American made. Thus far,  I have found one long sleeve shirt from Cohesive that I bought, and a young adult type T-shirt by English Laundry which I passed on, both at a Marshall’s. Out of 10 visits – one garment, poor odds. The next step were the Designer Outlet Stores – Polo, J. Crew, Eddie Bauer, Tommy Hilfiger, etc. – nothing.  The next step were the upper end department discount stores: Nordstrom’s Rack; Off Fifth Avenue; and Neiman Marcus Outlet.  Bingo. There is a much better chance of finding American made garments there,  I almost always find something each trip. I will go more into details about  these stores later. In conclusion, my advice would be to skip the cheap discount stores and start at the upper end department discount stores. Plus,  stores like American Apparel, Hlaska, and Mystyq, which we will review later. One tip for men, some of the easiest items that are American -made to find are Hawaiian shirts, socks, and Suit coats.

“Fashion fades, only style remains the same.” – Coco Chanel




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