People have suggested it, but it’s one of those things I don’t allow myself to 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 Hermès, one of the world’s last remaining family-owned and quality-driven leather companies. Exclusivity is key for the brand, so very few licensees 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 Demeulemeester 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. — minimal, casual Parisian brand — emphasis on basics, staples
- Acne Studios — modern Swedish brand — emphasis on bold basics, texture
- Band of Outsiders — American-conceived, Italian-made — emphasis on cheeky prep
- Barena Venezia — Venice-based minimalist tailor — emphasis on fabric, texture
- Iffley Road — British athletic brand — emphasis on function, tailoring
- Incotex — minimal, casual Italian brand made by Slowear — emphasis on tailoring
- James Perse — relaxed LA basics — emphasis on comfort
- Jil Sander — contemporary German brand — emphasis on color-blocking, silhouette
- Dan Ward — Mediterranean leisure-wear — emphasis on sleek lines
- Fendi — Roman luxury — emphasis on decadent materials, color-blocking
- Marc by Marc Jacobs — playful, youthful — emphasis on humor
- PS by Paul Smith — artistic British brand — emphasis on sharp statements
- Robert Geller Seconds — urban, minimal basics, made in Japan — emphasis on saturated color
- Versus — youthful Versace offshoot — emphasis on bold prints, colors
- Z Zegna — minimal, casual Parisian brand — emphasis on basics, staples
- Sunspel — British cotton staples — emphasis on comfort
- Valentino — revered couture house, renewed with studs, camo — emphasis on silhouette
- Dan Ward (see above)
- Parke & Ronen — modern, sexy New York brand — emphasis on bare skin
- Robinson les Bains — retro French brand — emphasis on classic beach colors, prints
- Speedo — American competition swimwear — emphasis on aerodynamics
- Mr. Turk — retro California line from Trina Turk — emphasis on Palm Springs colors
- Versace — extravagant euro-trash aesthetic — emphasis on details
- Acne Studios (see above)
- AG Adriano Goldschmied — casual luxury American brand made in LA — emphasis on fit, comfort
- J Brand — LA denim made with luxury in mind — emphasis on fabrics
- Simon Miller — LA workwear brand — emphasis on longevity
- A.P.C. (see above)
- Balenciaga — streamlined Parisian luxury — emphasis on texture
- Common Projects — luxurious simplicity in leather — emphasis on shapes, silhouette
- Dan Ward (see above)
- Del Toro — newish brand based in velvet slippers — emphasis on patterns, texture
- Fiorentini + Baker — rustic leather shoes made in Italy — emphasis on durability, slouch
- Golden Goose Deluxe Brand — nouveau athletic luxury — emphasis on retro, distressing
- K. Jacques — French Riviera maker of leather sandals — emphasis on tradition
- Moncler — ski chic reimagined — emphasis on warmth
- Officine Creative — rugged luxury — emphasis on texture, comfort
- Opening Ceremony — American downtown cool — emphasis on minimalism
- Pierre Hardy — 60s and 70s inspired French leather — emphasis on shapes
- Tom Ford — decadent menswear and accessories from a famed designer — emphasis on materials
- Vince — casual urban Americana — emphasis on simplicity, comfort
- Y-3 — avant-garde athletic wear — emphasis on futurism
Small Leather / Bags
- Balenciaga (see above)
- Bottega Veneta — understated Italian leathergoods — emphasis on color, materials
- Brooks England — British bicycling accessories — emphasis on durability, weatherproofing
- Dolce & Gabbana — sexy accessories made in Italy — emphasis on mood, ambiance
- Fortenberry — Tampa-born natural leather accessories — emphasis on construction, process
- hard graft — Italian avant-garde leathergoods — emphasis on use of felt
- Hermès — revered Parisian leather house — emphasis on utmost construction, quality
- Makr Carry Goods — Orlando-based rustic but polished leather — emphasis on finish
- Saint Laurent — understated French chic — emphasis on luxurious details and materials
- Valextra — simplistic Milanese leather house — emphasis on color, shape
- Maison Takuya — exclusive Asian leather house — emphasis on color, material
- Marc by Marc Jacobs (see above)
- Smythson of Bond Street — old London luxury — emphasis on tradition, humor
Jewelry / Accessories
- A.P.C. (see above)
- Bottega Veneta (see above)
- Cause & Effect — American metalsmithing — emphasis on ruggedness
- Copula — London-made modern jewelry — emphasis on organic shapes
- Cutler & Gross — historic, acclaimed London eyewear — emphasis on materials
- Eyevan — traditional Japanese eye brand — emphasis on history
- Hermès (see above)
- L.G.R. — vintage-inspired modern eyewear — emphasis on details and construction
- Lanvin — relaxed French luxury — emphasis on details
- Le Gramme — recycled French-made jewelry — emphasis on simplicity
- Maison Martin Margiela — cutting-edge house founded in the late 1980s — emphasis on staples
- Monique Péan — understated jewelry — emphasis on materials, organic shapes
- Mykita — modern German eyewear — emphasis on sharp lines
- Shinola — retro American timepieces — emphasis on history
- Uniform Wares — minimalist timepieces — emphasis on simplicity
To better visualize such a store, I created a Pinterest board.
I’m sure more musings will come to me. For now, I’m spent.