People have suggested it, but it’s one of those things I don’t allow myself toÂ believe, despite an obvious stream of subconscious thought on the contrary.
But really, I could.
Events over the last ‘chapter’ of my life, since graduating, have pushed and pulled me in directions, not all favorable, that bring me to this point. Is Tampa ready for a contemporary menswear boutique?
Does the answer even matter? Everyone is in person and online now, leaning on one when the other is slow. Geography isn’t critical anymore. Farfetch has shown me how independent boutiques across continents can tap into a greater pool of global shoppers, by simply uploading their stock onto the Farfetch platform.
Even without such a presence, My Shopify and the Square marketplace are new third-party platforms rapidly bringing stodgy mom-and-pops into the instantaneous world of e-commerce.
Thus, I am less worried about my “market.” What concerns me, of course, is funding. According to the business journal article, London Philips spent $100k to outfit their boutique.
And, how will I build relationships with brands, and effectively curate a collection of pieces that I am proud to stand by?
Someone asked me yesterday what my personal aesthetic is. That lead to a conversation about brands, and I began to imagine which ones I would want in my store. No stores I have encountered thus far, near nor far, have the exact mix of goods that I like.
That is partially because I like both niche, unheard brands, as well as big names. Occasionally I like something Dolce & Gabbana makes, or a collection of items from Gucci. Alternatively, I just spent half a paycheck on three items from three brands you’ve probably never heard of: Le Gramme, Barena, and Incotex.
I have imagined reserving a very special dedicated section of my store for HermÃ¨s, one of the world’s last remaining family-owned and quality-driven leather companies. Exclusivity is key for the brand, so very few licenseesÂ are allowed to carry its goods. Marissa Collections in Naples only carries the French brand’s timepieces.
Convincing the French house to entrust their reputation to me would be no small feat. Likewise, finding skilled sales associates who both know the brand (and all brands I would carry) and understand attentive, respectful service could be challenging.
For me, clothes usually sell themselves. I prefer to peruse at my own speed, not be inundated with sales pitches.
Haute leather aside, I like sleek, cheeky stuff. Not too serious. Not Rick Owens edgy or Ann DemeulemeesterÂ androgynous. Or Vivienne Westwood loud. Somewhere between conservative and totally impractical. We do live in 80 degree heat nine months of the year, after all.
And to an extent, I do know Tampa’s style profile. I live it. All you really need here is a great closet of jeans, t-shirts, polo shirts, shorts, and a bevy of accessories and shoes. Maybe some key cold-weather investment items.
Keeping in mind what Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, London Philips, Oxford Exchange, Greiner’s, and Urban Body carry, and what is available at area malls, I have a good sense of what would give my store a niche, and an edge.
I’ve also picked up a thing or two from independent stores in other cities, like By George in Austin.
- A.P.C.Â â€” minimal, casual ParisianÂ brandÂ â€” emphasis on basics, staples
- Acne StudiosÂ â€” modern Swedish brandÂ â€” emphasis onÂ bold basics, texture
- Band of OutsidersÂ â€” American-conceived, Italian-madeÂ â€” emphasis on cheeky prep
- Barena VeneziaÂ â€” Venice-based minimalist tailorÂ â€” emphasis onÂ fabric, texture
- Iffley RoadÂ â€” British athletic brandÂ â€” emphasis onÂ function, tailoring
- IncotexÂ â€” minimal, casual ItalianÂ brand made by Slowear â€” emphasis onÂ tailoring
- James PerseÂ â€” relaxedÂ LA basics â€” emphasis on comfort
- Jil SanderÂ â€” contemporary German brandÂ â€” emphasis onÂ color-blocking, silhouette
- Dan WardÂ â€” Mediterranean leisure-wearÂ â€” emphasis onÂ sleek lines
- FendiÂ â€” Roman luxury â€” emphasis onÂ decadent materials, color-blocking
- Marc by Marc JacobsÂ â€” playful, youthfulÂ â€” emphasis onÂ humor
- PS by Paul SmithÂ â€” artistic British brandÂ â€” emphasis onÂ sharp statements
- Robert Geller SecondsÂ â€” urban, minimal basics, made in JapanÂ â€” emphasis onÂ saturated color
- VersusÂ â€” youthful Versace offshootÂ â€” emphasis onÂ bold prints, colors
- Z ZegnaÂ â€” minimal, casualÂ ParisianÂ brandÂ â€” emphasis on basics, staples
- SunspelÂ â€” British cotton staples â€” emphasis onÂ comfort
- ValentinoÂ â€” revered couture house, renewed withÂ studs, camo â€” emphasis on silhouette
- Dan Ward (see above)
- Parke & RonenÂ â€” modern, sexy New York brandÂ â€” emphasis onÂ bare skin
- Robinson les BainsÂ â€” retro French brandÂ â€” emphasis on classic beach colors, prints
- SpeedoÂ â€” American competition swimwear â€” emphasis onÂ aerodynamics
- Mr. TurkÂ â€” retro California line from Trina TurkÂ â€” emphasis on Palm Springs colors
- VersaceÂ â€” extravagant euro-trash aestheticÂ â€” emphasis onÂ details
- Acne Studios (see above)
- AG Adriano GoldschmiedÂ â€” casual luxury American brand made in LAÂ â€” emphasis onÂ fit, comfort
- J BrandÂ â€” LA denim made with luxury in mindÂ â€” emphasis on fabrics
- Simon MillerÂ â€” LA workwear brandÂ â€” emphasis on longevity
- A.P.C. (see above)
- BalenciagaÂ â€” streamlined Parisian luxuryÂ â€” emphasis on texture
- Common ProjectsÂ â€” luxurious simplicity in leatherÂ â€” emphasis on shapes, silhouette
- Dan Ward (see above)
- Del ToroÂ â€” newish brand based in velvet slippersÂ â€” emphasis on patterns, texture
- Fiorentini + BakerÂ â€” rustic leather shoes made in ItalyÂ â€” emphasis on durability, slouch
- Golden Goose Deluxe BrandÂ â€” nouveau athletic luxuryÂ â€” emphasis on retro, distressing
- K. JacquesÂ â€” French Riviera maker of leather sandalsÂ â€” emphasis onÂ tradition
- MonclerÂ â€” ski chic reimaginedÂ â€” emphasis on warmth
- Officine CreativeÂ â€” rugged luxuryÂ â€” emphasis on texture, comfort
- Opening CeremonyÂ â€” American downtown cool â€” emphasis on minimalism
- Pierre HardyÂ â€” 60s and 70s inspired French leatherÂ â€” emphasis on shapes
- Tom FordÂ â€” decadent menswear and accessories from a famed designerÂ â€” emphasis on materials
- VinceÂ â€” casual urban AmericanaÂ â€” emphasis on simplicity, comfort
- Y-3Â â€” avant-garde athletic wearÂ â€” emphasis on futurism
Small Leather / Bags
- Balenciaga (see above)
- Bottega VenetaÂ â€” understated Italian leathergoodsÂ â€” emphasis on color, materials
- Brooks EnglandÂ â€” British bicycling accessoriesÂ â€” emphasis onÂ durability, weatherproofing
- Dolce & GabbanaÂ â€” sexy accessories made in ItalyÂ â€” emphasis on mood, ambiance
- FortenberryÂ â€” Tampa-born natural leather accessoriesÂ â€” emphasis on construction, process
- hard graftÂ â€” Italian avant-garde leathergoodsÂ â€” emphasis on use of felt
- HermÃ¨sÂ â€” revered Parisian leather houseÂ â€” emphasis on utmost construction, quality
- Makr Carry GoodsÂ â€” Orlando-based rustic but polished leatherÂ â€” emphasis on finish
- Saint LaurentÂ â€” understated French chicÂ â€” emphasis on luxurious details and materials
- ValextraÂ â€” simplistic Milanese leather houseÂ â€” emphasis on color, shape
- Maison TakuyaÂ â€” exclusive Asian leather houseÂ â€” emphasis on color, material
- Marc by Marc JacobsÂ (see above)
- Smythson of Bond StreetÂ â€” old London luxuryÂ â€” emphasis on tradition, humor
Jewelry / Accessories
- A.P.C. (see above)
- Bottega Veneta (see above)
- Cause & EffectÂ â€” American metalsmithingÂ â€” emphasis on ruggedness
- CopulaÂ â€” London-made modern jewelryÂ â€” emphasis on organic shapes
- Cutler & GrossÂ â€” historic, acclaimed London eyewearÂ â€” emphasis on materials
- EyevanÂ â€” traditional Japanese eye brandÂ â€” emphasis on history
- HermÃ¨sÂ (see above)
- L.G.R.Â â€” vintage-inspired modern eyewearÂ â€” emphasis on details and construction
- LanvinÂ â€” relaxed French luxuryÂ â€” emphasis onÂ details
- Le GrammeÂ â€” recycled French-made jewelryÂ â€” emphasis onÂ simplicity
- Maison Martin MargielaÂ â€” cutting-edge house founded in the late 1980sÂ â€” emphasis on staples
- Monique PÃ©anÂ â€” understated jewelryÂ â€” emphasis on materials, organic shapes
- MykitaÂ â€” modern German eyewearÂ â€” emphasis on sharp lines
- ShinolaÂ â€” retro American timepiecesÂ â€” emphasis on history
- Uniform WaresÂ â€” minimalist timepiecesÂ â€” emphasis on simplicity
To better visualize such a store, I created aÂ Pinterest board.
I’m sure more musings will come to me. For now, I’m spent.