Store Visit: Heimie’s Haberdashery, St. Paul, Minnesota

I had a few free hours on a recent business trip to the Twin Cities, and I decided to hop a bus from downtown Minneapolis to downtown St. Paul so I could visit a shop I’d heard about from many Minnesotan readers - Heimie’s Haberdashery.

The shop is owned by the great-grandson of its founder (yes, his name was Heimie), and it operated continuously in St. Paul for about about 70 years before closing for a stretch of about a dozen years around the 1990s. Seven years ago, the current owner, who was successfully operating a store that sells local art, decided to resurrect the family business, and Heimie’s was reborn.

While I shopped, Cab Calloway was playing on the overhead speakers, and the friendly staff was a mix of the sort of middle-aged gentlemen you might expect to be working at a well-established regional men’s store and younger guys with loosely tied bows and novelty moustaches. The aesthetic of the place is self-consciously classic (it even houses a barbershop in the back), but it feels lived-in, not like a theme-park.

The merchandise was distinctly midwestern. Outdoors influence was everywhere, and there were plenty of great-looking clothes for hunting and field wear. Suits were in conservative cuts, and were of fair quality, at very reasonable prices. A local hockey player was shopping for a suit (everyone congratulate him on a good game the previous night), and he didn’t have to worry about fitting his sizable shoulders into their tailored offerings. There were some very nice accessories - I liked those by the British maker Seaward & Stern - and shoes by Johnston & Murphy and Allen Edmonds. They seemed to be doing a great business in wedding rentals, as well.

Probably the most interesting offering was the store’s self-branded luggage. They offer a full range, with a distinctly field-and-stream aesthetic that fits with the locale. They’re good-looking, locally-made and priced comparably to competitors like Filson.

I didn’t go home with anything, but it’s nice to spend some time in a business like Heimie’s, offering a locally-focused product with a friendly face and a sophisticated atmosphere. Thanks for the recommendation, Minnesotans!

David Saxby & Old Hat

On my recent trip to the UK, I had the good fortune to spend a couple of days in London, and I decided to head out to what I’d heard was the best vintage store in town: Old Hat. It’s on the Fulham High Street, which is about a half-hour train ride from the center of town, but it certainly delivers on its promise.

It’s actually more of a complex than a shop, with three storefronts - men’s vintage, women’s vintage and a made-to-measure gallery. Old Hat is a classic vintage shop, with racks and racks of dusty tailored clothing, ranging from the perfectly good (ready-to-wear Daks) to the fantastic (Savile Row bespoke). The lower level looks like the basement where your elementary school held gym class when it was raining, with pipes running here and there and halogen torchieres providing the light. My kind of place, in other words.

It’s the kind of spot where there are piles of trousers for day formal on top of the counter, and fifteen or twenty feet of rack space dedicated to evening wear. The staff is lovely and pleasant, and while I went home empty-handed, it was a blast to visit the store.

Even more of a blast was connecting with the owner of the place, David Saxby. Saxby was behind at the counter at the made-to-measure shop that bears his name. It’s filled to the brim with classic country clothes in bulletproof tweeds. There are stacks of sock garters and piles of driving caps on every surface. Saxby himself is a charming and fascinating host.

He told me he got into vintage clothes after a stint as a camera dealer (before that, he’d been a professional photographer). When he wanted more country clothes than he could buy second-hand, he started contracting with English manufacturers to make them for his customers. One by one, the manufacturers shut their doors, until David found himself buying the plant and hiring the staff of the last. Now, his factory, an hour or so outside London, makes the kind of rare breed clothes you really can’t find anywhere else, short of bespoke.

When I was there, David was wearing a preposterously loud country ensemble, and he looked spectacular. His manner matched his look - sharp, funny and very slightly outrageous. We discussed suit silhouettes (he only makes one and three-button coats), Fred Astaire (he says if Fred Astaire wore a butonniere with a pocket square, then it’s right, because Fred Astaire is Fred Astaire), the best American factory-made suits (that’s Oxxford, if you’re keeping track) and more. I’d meant to get back on the train and hit another shop before heading back to my wife and baby, but between the conversation and digging in Old Hat, I ended up in Fulham for two hours.

If you’re in London, or making a trip, be sure to stop by and say “hi.” You’ll enjoy the experience.

The Bureau, Belfast

I’m visiting the UK and Ireland for a couple of weeks, and I’m currently in Belfast, where later this week I’ll be hosting a design conference called Build. I took the opportunity today to stop in to a shop called The Bureau, which is right in the heart of town. It took us a while to find the place - its signage was pretty inconspicuous in the early dusk, and Belfast’s streets are largely unlabeled - but I’m glad I did.

The Bureau carries the range of products you’d expect to find in a put-together menswear boutique, from Alden and Trickers shoes to Engineered Garments and the like. They’ve also got a few more UK-oriented brands, like Nigel Cabourn and Paul Smith. Nothing’s cheap, but the clothes are well-chosen and really lovely.

The Bureau’s much more spacious than I’ve come to expect from stores of its ilk, and a bit more elegant and sophisticated than most, as well. Sportcoats co-habitate comfortably with the typical jeans and flannels. The folks who ran the place were also genuinely pleasant, which can’t always be counted on in fancy pants boutique shops like this one. This despite my having wandered in with wife and baby in tow. (Which, incidentally, is why I wasn’t able to spend as long there as I’d like.)

I shot a few pictures while I was in there - though I must warn you that I’m a hack photographer and was using my phone, and am uploading them without post-processing of any kind. If you’re in Belfast, or planning to visit (and you should, it’s a wonderful place), The Bureau is very much worth a visit. 

Store Visit - Everything’s Jake Vintage, Los Angeles

On my way back from the tailor this afternoon (2” cuffs?  yes, please!) I stopped into Everything’s Jake Vintage.  It’s situated on Hollywood Boulevard in Los Angeles, and I’d never been, despite the fact that it’s across the street from one of my most frequent haunts, the Los Feliz branch of Goodwill.  In fact, I hadn’t realized it was there until I stumbled across it searching for something completely different on the internet.

I was greeted warmly by owner Jonathan Kanarek, who was dressed to the nines in the pants and waistcoat of a vintage suit, a striped shirt and paisley necktie.  He was surprised I was wearing a suit - I explained that my wife was sworn into the California bar today, and we made small talk about his previous career as a paralegal. Jonathan was generous with his conversation, and from what I’ve read is more than happy to offer guidance to men who need a bit of information with their purchases.

The store isn’t huge, but the quality is consistently high.  It’s rare to find a vintage store dedicated to men, and while Jake couldn’t quite match my all-time fave, Bobby From Boston, it really is a wonderful place.  Meeting Jonathan would have been enough reason to visit, but I also walked out with a reasonably-priced burgundy grenadine tie from Carrol & Co. to replace my Sulka, which is starting to fray.