The other weekend, I strolled around South Street and was friggen’ pumped to find a few developments that caught me off guard: ADIDAS is no longer an “originals” store but an outlet? There’s a pimp new Villa? What is this TOTEM!? We’ve been frequenting Ps & Qs for a minute now (their jackets are currently half-off), but Totem popped up this past July. We peppered the store’s brains, Phillip Yi, and he gave us some answers to a few of the hundreds of questions that come to mind when perusing his gorgeous storefront’s wares.
When and how’d you get this store up and running? Had you been scoping sites for a while?
Totem Brand opened in July 2013, and I’ve been working on South Street for my entire retail career. I noticed Philadelphia did not have a heritage menswear store with a focus on U.S.-made goods and outdoor lifestyle. The community has really embraced our concept and mission.
Tell us why you’re into this stuff. The general theme is American-made products, is that correct? Or, even if it’s an international brand, there’s a domestic manufacturing angle?
I think now, more than ever, quality is extremely important to customers. The U.S.-made brands we choose to feature at Totem Brand are all revered when it comes to quality and craftsmanship. I feel great offering items to my customers that are not going to fall apart after a couple wears. The more research I did into the brands that I wanted to carry, the more I identified with their mission: “Buy it once, buy it right.”
Secondly, I feel proud to support our American manufacturers. I think that it is important to keep jobs in America and help stimulate the U.S. economy.
What are some of your personal favorite brands, and why do you love them so?
Some of my favorite brands are Filson and Norman Porter. Filson was founded in Seattle, WA in 1897, and their goods are made in USA. From their 100-percent virgin wool coats and oil finished jackets to their rugged luggage, the entire collection is extremely durable and practical. Every piece only gets better with age. Everything they make has lifetime warranty. They truly stand behind their product. I love their motto too: “Might as well have the best.”
Norman Porter is an awesome denim brand. Each pair of jeans is made by hand. He has expanded his offerings to leather goods, and I am proud to carry his brand. It is truly a one-man operation located in Philadelphia. From the hickory stripe pocket bags to the hand-hammered copper rivets, the attention to detail is undeniable. We are located in Philadelphia, and it was only natural to carry a locally-made product.
There’s not a ton of menswear options in Philly, and, as I told you, I’m a super-fan of Ps & Qs down the street. You two are really nailing that niche. What do you do that’s unique to Totem?
I really try to focus on heritage and outdoor lifestyle brands. But I’m particularly trying to feature items that will remain classics over time, with an attitude towards high quality, durable, and practical fashion.
Sure seems like there’s a little South Street retail renaissance going on. I like that ADIDAS turned themselves into an outlet and that Villa (608 South St.) is great at what it does. Are you excited to be a part of it?
For a while, South Street was the go-to destination for unique shopping boutiques. Then there was a sort of deterioration when manufacturers went overseas for production. This left a lot of U.S. manufacturers out of business. This culture of “cheaper goods are better” really hurt America. I’m really excited to be a part of the retail renaissance on South Street and turning it back into a shopping destination with quality and character.
Have you been South Streeting for your whole life? What are some of your favorite South St. gems?
Yes, but so many of my favorite stores have left over the years. Still, I’m always up to grab a Bloody Mary at Beau Monde and a gyro at South Street Souvlaki.
Alright, break down the deals you’ve got going on now—and when they’ll expire. And tell us what to expect for spring.
Currently, our fall/winter goods are up to 40-percent off until supplies last. We are really excited for spring. A few brands we are proud to introduce are Barbour, Woolrich and Steven Alan.
I want to tell you guys a funny Philadelphia story. It’s about meat. But also chicken, seafood, pork, crab cakes and shrimp and turkey burgers.
So, it was a Monday evening in the beginning of December. And it was cold. A strong, bold knock came at my door on, let’s say, Point Breeze’s Latona Street. It was early, about 7-7:30pm, when the raps came, and, like most similar occasions, I’d hoped it was some kind of charity collector and not a neighbor in need of something pressing. I let a minute or three pass before I raised my living room blinds to peek at who’d been calling.
It was John B. of Capital Meats Incorporated. He was so pumped about selling protein, I didn’t have the heart to close the door on his pitch. He had a young female driver who waved from the running van’s driver’s seat, and the van itself was diligently wrapped with a brilliant bed of flaming coals, URLs and phone numbers. It didn’t seem all that sketchy, other than the fact that you rarely get meat salesmen knocking on your door, so I gave him a shot.
Now, when I was a kid, we used to jam on Schwan’s, an awesome food delivery truck that sold all kinds of excellent hungry-children wares. Most importantly, push-pops. Orange ones, preferably. I was never suspicious when my mom accepted the Schwan’s man’s pitch and ordered from his frozen menagerie of delights. John mentioned Schwan’s and his competitors, such as Omaha Steaks, and I thought “Pitch on, John.”
I’m not that much of a chicken man, and I’m sure as shit not buying fish filets from a traveling van. But steak is a weakness. It’s always felt like one of those luxuries; a dish ordered when someone with money’s picking up the bill, a piece of meat that’s best cooked by someone with expertise in temperatures and pinkness. So I confessed an interest in steak and John lit up. He basically pushed his way into my kitchen with a stack of boxes of frozen beef, and even though I was a touch nervous about a strange salesman entering my home, I had a friend (totally stoked with paranoia at the whole process) there, so I knew I probably wouldn’t get cut up. Or if I did it’d be a double homicide.
He showed me the goods: T-bones, NY strip, flat style filets, petite sirloin filets and beef strip steaks. He quickly went through uses and functions of each cut, including a few nicknames he has for them (T-bones are “Grandpa and daddy steaks”). He asked me which cut would excite me the most, and I said, “Probably the beef strip steaks.” They were big and fat and seven ounces, six of em’ to a box. He pulled out a trusty pricing list and used a finger to slide down to a price: “Those are $75.50,” and he looked at me with that “Your move” look in his eyes.
I guffawed. “Dude, I had not planned on spending $75 on meat tonight, and there’s no way you’re getting that kind of money out of me.” He understood. I think he was honestly excited that such an even-mannered dude let him into his home to give an on-the-spot steak show.
I want to put what happened next in ambiguous terms for his sake. I said, “Well, I’ve got about $X in my wallet?” “Deal!” he exclaimed and extended his hand. He tried to get me to keep listening about shrimp and crab cakes, but at that point I was ready for the whole episode to be over.
He was eager to make a sale, eager to cut me a good deal so that I could enjoy his wares and threw in a “If I like it, spread the word.” Well, they’re gone. We ate em’ up within days, and I am here to say, John B. runs a tight ship and I’d absolutely love it for him to get a giant spate of end-of-the-year business from a humble little PW Style blog post. The options are endless, and I won’t detail them all here, but do check out capitalmeats.com and give John B. a call, would you?
A screenshot of Ps and Qs‘ plethora.
Boy, it got cold overnight, didn’t it? Suddenly we’re rummaging through basements and storage bins for sweaters, scarves, gloves, winter jackets, wool socks and even boots. And did we not wake up with snow falling on Philadelphia yesterday? Hey, winter—guess you’re here for real.
If you’re like me, and I bet lots of you are, you’re loathe to drag out that dingy old winter jacket you bought three years ago and have been trying to squeeze as many seasons out of as possible. Also, if you’re like me, you’re on the hunt for a good reason to go shopping and make a good investment.
So, for some gentlemen out there, I’d like to give you a few heads up on prices, styles, stores and recommendations on styles for the inevitable onslaught of freezing temperatures on their way. Shop these five spots for some style inspiration, at least:
1. City Sports, 1608 Walnut St., 215.985.5860. citysports.com
This isn’t where you’re gonna go for a peacoat, a bomber jacket or leather. But you will find some of the city’s finest selections of North Face, Patagonia, and Burton jackets. Their cold weather accessory game is also bananas (try to find anything with the “Smartwool” trademark), with a vast selection of gloves, hats, ear warmers and warm scarves.
Favorite: Those Burton Poacher jackets that come in heathered grey are sick ($169.95).
2. Ps & Qs, 820 South St., 215.592.0888. psandqs.com
Stumbled in there the other day, curious to see what one of our city’s best menswear boutiques pulled together for November, and wasn’t disappointed. In addition to a vast and cozy collection of charmingly color-combined Patagonia fleeces ($119), a truly stylish selection of knit winter hats and their always-tight New Balance game (and now they’ve got Tretorns!), their jacket curation is on point.
Favorite(s): That Shades of Grey Baseball jacket ($253), those deceptively warm Patagonia quilted down “sweaters” ($219) or those leather-shouldered Penfield Stapleton down jackets ($300).
3. H&M, 1530 Chestnut St., 855.466.7467. hm.com/us
These may not be jackets out of which you’ll get more than one season’s wear. And, in fact, if you wanted to have three mediocre jackets for the price of one ritzy piece, and you mix and match colors and textures, this really isn’t a bad option. A double-breasted peacoat’s only $99; a duffel coat with toggle buttons is $99; great parkas in versatile colors range from $50-100, and a no-one-will-know-it’s-from-H&M-unless-you-tell-them Lumber jacket in buffalo plaid’s only $99, too. Oh, and don’t mess with that Walnut Street spot; it’s not even in the same league as the bigger brother down the street and around the corner.
Favorite: Anything with the word “biker” in it, and you’re probably good, like the asymmetrical zipper ($79.95) or the fuller length trench, on sale for $99 from $199 right now.
4. Zara, 1715 Walnut St., 215.557.0911. zara.com/us
Listen, Zara’s better in SoHo or midtown Manhattan, but we’ll take what we can get from the international retailer while the gettin’s good—and one thing Zara does well for men is blazers and outerwear. They’re great for biker/moto jackets, and they’ve got a couple winter-weight ones worth trying on, but I snagged a knitted coat with a high-neck collar for $189 (in black) that I am extremely happy with this week. All of their leather, faux or legit, is priced pretty reasonably. Also, bonus tip: If you can, thick-enough blazers with a warm sweater underneath always looks classy.
Favorite: Didn’t work for me, but that navy wool coat with a detachable waistcoat ($299) is nicely done, with brown leather details that look real sophisticated.
5. Theory, 1616 Walnut St., 215.735.1034. theory.com
This one’s for the high-rollers or for those who just got a winter bonus and want to drop a crisp K on one garment. But if you’re going to do it, this has got to be the best place to do so. Perhaps not deep-winter appropriate, but they’ve got the most stunning play on a baseball jacket in the city, with their Volter LS Coat in Kinlough Wool Cashmere Blend ($795), a navy wool number with black leather sleeves.
Favorite: Really wish we could spring for that Yver Coat in Belgrade Cotton Blend ($895), a real warm keeper in black, with a removable puff layer in a deep blue.
Hypothetical scenario: Dude you’re on a first date with picks you up at your door; you walk over to a nearby restaurant and sit down at the table, and then you see his watch. It’s a metallic number, chunky and thick, with visible gears and ostentatious detailing on its face. Now, hold on: Let’s imagine this guy–he’s six feet tall, dressed well enough (button-down, well-fit denim, inoffensive shoes) and has obviously made a good enough impression to win a date with you. But he seems to be quite fond of his timepiece, stretching on occasion to make sure his watch is visible beyond his cuff and holding his hands together in a manner that puts his wrist on display.
“Was that your dad’s watch or something?” you inquire.
“No,” he guffaws, “I bought this. It’s a Hublot.”
“What’s that?” you ask.
“Oh, it’s a luxury brand. Haven’t you heard that Watch the Throne song, “Otis”?”
“No,” you confess.
What he doesn’t know is that you detest showy displays of income, wholesale buy-ins to maleness and co-opting pop star fashion for your own.
That wouldn’t happen with an Analog Watch Co. watch for a number of reasons. While watches made of wood aren’t completely unheard of (you can find them at Kembrel, on sale, while the Chestnut Street pop-up’s still open), Lorenzo Buffa is a Philadelphia designer and founder of AWC who’s launched and already crushed a Kickstarter goal to fund the production of soft, flexible wooden watches that are gender neutral and make a statement that’s not “I have money and taste.” In fact, a wooden watch might suggest the wearer’s a little more on the crunchy, urban hippie, eco-conscious and nature-loving tip.
On Oct. 11, Buffa launched a $10k-goaled Kickstarter push, and, at the time of this writing (10/21 @ noon), he and AWC have 333 backers with over $31,000 pledged and 20 days left in the campaign. Not bad at all. And, to his credit, Buffa’s a queer kid who’s propelled himself him into now-thriving watch designer status and a Kickstarter success story.
“If it wasn’t for navigating the challenges of being a marginalized individual, I don’t think I would be who or where I am today,” he told PW. “Those hard times only give me strength and compulsion to push myself more.” And push himself he did. For months he designed, prototyped, contacted and initiated relationships with manufacturers, studied other campaigns and prepared a marketing effort for his brand. “We spent months working on a strategy for launching on Kickstarter,” he says. “I gauged how well the project would fit in, and fortunately, it’s exceeded expectations.”
Looks like Buffa’s poised to be swimming in wristwear—taking orders, plus creating, marketing and shipping them—and he’s not mad. The U Arts Industrial Design alum’s background is pretty varied, but he sees a lot of potential in watches, much more so than just a way to tell time. “Watches today are much more about expressing one’s identity. They are symbols of status, ideals, class, etc.,” Buffa asserts. When questioned on whether or not he was ready to be the watch man, he seemed resolved: “I’m going to settle in and work on watches for now. This is just the beginning.”
The Carpenter Collection uses soft wood, leather and minimalistic design elements (no numbers, lines or figures – it’s Analog, get it?) to achieve a pretty sophisticated blend of aesthetic elements for 2013. Because he wanted to appeal to a wide audience—and, in all likelihood because he’s a talented queer—these watches are slim, chicly simplified and refined in their design. And there’s still time to get in on the Kickstarter project. There are only 10 left of the 200 spots to opt in at $85, but 97 of 100 spots are left to get yours for $95.
Kickstarter’s obviously no joke. There’s lots of build-up towards a campaign and lots of worry over how it’ll unfold if and when your campaign’s funded; Buffa gets the green light on Nov. 10th. Is he ready for the deluge? “Absolutely,” he says. “This has been over a year in the making. Months have been spent building relationships with all the parties involved [and] in bringing a product to production.” There’s magic in that Kickstarter, too, helping all kinds of creatives achieve things never believed possible.
Buffa put it perfectly: “There is an amazing tool at our disposal: the Internet and computer. You can do anything. Anything. It’s created a new era for makers, designers, and how small businesses grow in ways it never could have 20 years ago.”
BOOT & SADDLE
We’ll go further in depth with Sean Agnew in a couple weeks’ time, but for now, we’d just like to rejoice in the impending arrival of a brand new concert venue just south of Washington on South Broad—and it looks like it’s gonna be a honey. Getting the old gentifrication touch, Mr. Agnew’s spearheaded these kinds of moments a couple times already, turning the Spaghetti Warehouse into the phenomenally successful Union Transfer and converting the Dolphin into a totally respectable South Philly late-night haunt (not that the old Dolphin wasn’t). Well, it looks like it won’t be getting a name change, but it’s getting a serious facelift and getting loaded up with all of the bomb sound technology we’ve come to know and love at the glorious Spring Garden music house that can entertain up to 1,000 concert connoisseurs. Boot & Saddle won’t be nearly as large, but last week, we got this info in an email:
“We are opening a brand new venue in South Philadelphia … The Boot & Saddle! Shuttered in 1995, this iconic Philly landmark will be opening as a 150-capacity live music room and 60-seat restaurant. We’ll be celebrating our grand opening with Aimee Mann & Ted Leo on Monday, September 9th. Tickets are on-sale now!
Already on the calendar are bills featuring Palma Violets, Sir Sly, Grails, Crocodiles, Quasi (feat. Janet Weiss from Sleater Kinney/Wild Flag), Nightmares on Wax, Those Darlins, Black Prairie (4 members of The Decemberists) and tons more – all experienced in an intimate back concert room featuring the same d&b Audiotechnik sound system that has earned Union Transfer accolades as one of the city’s best sounding venues. This distinguishes Boot & Saddle as one of the only small-size rooms in the US to boast this critically acclaimed sound system, guaranteeing the best experience for you!”
Looking forward to the big open, for sure, but it looks like opening night is sold out. You can get a pretty good look at the already bumpin’ roster they’ve booked for September and October on their Ticketfly site.
JAY Z AND KANYE
Magically, pretty much within 24 hours of each other, two of the biggest names in hip-hop have announced Philly tour dates as part of giant national outings. They’re not together, and they’re not even all that close to each other: Kanye’s Yeezus tour will stop in on Nov. 16th at Wells Fargo, while Jay’s Magna Carter World Tour will hit Philly (again at Wells Fargo) on Jan. 29th. Tickets for their respective tours go on sale one day apart from each other: Jay’s first on the 12th, next Thursday, and Yeezy’s on Friday, the 13th. Yes, Jay did just tour with Justin Timberlake with their Legends of the Summer tour, but this is Kanye’s first solo tour in five years. You know what’s lame, though? Kendrick’s the big co-sign to follow Kanye around the world, but he won’t be present for the Philly date. The Philly.com story, though, does suggest that a surprise guest is TBA. Still exciting news, though, no doubt.
This weekend, we strolled into Ps & Qs, a new favorite shopping destination on Philadelphia’s South Street, and resisted dropping a couple hundred bucks down on swiping ALL of their spring and summer merch on sale. They’re making space for fall shipments and marking down t-shirts, tanks, hats and jackets with a fixture full of 50-percent off and another batch of 30-percent markdowns. You’re looking at purchases of $10-$20 on stuff that used to be $30-$50. Of course, it’s all about what’s left and what sizes have been snatched up, so it’s worth hustling in to get it while you can.
But the real star of the show is the brand new autumn jackets that are closest to the street, and one of them’s been running around my head since I laid my eyes on its beauty Saturday afternoon. K-Way’s a brand that’s been around for almost 50 years now. Born from Leon-Claude Duhamel’s brain in Paris 1965, it’s a simple achievement: waterproof, lightweight, packable and fashionable. As a cyclist and former Oregonian, waterproof’s gotta mean waterproof. Sometimes you’re all amped on your new windbreaker, and the first rain hits, and you think No bigs! I got this slick new pullover to fight that precipitation. Then you actually get rained on, and your shoulders start moistening, your forearms get wet and stick to the insides of the sleeves, and your hood isn’t cuttin’ the mustard. Well, the K-Way, the fine folks at Ps & Qs have assured us, is the real deal. They even did their own tests.
Now, the crown jewel in their lovely and colorful K-Way collection is the stunning collaboration between the French-born brand and the American-born kook and savant, Marc Jacobs. Pictured above, the heathered and treated mixed grey cotton zip-up is waterproof, features charming details and can be packed into itself for clipping around your waist or shoving into your weekend bag. Let’s not talk about price, however I will say that it’s the main reason I’m not wearing it right now. But while supplies last—and please, take this as a straight-up challenge— snatch those last two (there’s a small and a medium in stock) if you want to wear it this week or order it online if you can wait. In the meantime, rally up those pennies and head to a CoinStar to see if you’ve got room in the budget for one of the most beautifully versatile outerwear pieces I’ve laid my eyes on in a few minutes.
Gentleman Arthur Ties, $50-$75 each / Kembrel (1822 Chestnut St.)
Farmhaus “Gurt Blöc in Sapele Cutting/Serving Board,” $65 / Art Star (623 N. Second St.)
Philadelphia Phillies Pennant Race Windbreaker, $54 / Mitchell & Ness (1201 Chestnut St.)
Hortense B. Hewitt Glass Tankard with Personalization (Set of 2), $59.95 / Scarlett Alley (241 Race St.)
Trifold Luxe, $58 / Fabric Horse (1737 E. Passyunk Ave.)
Tokens & Icons Antique Golf Club Bottle Opener, $75 / Boyd’s Philadelphia (1818 Chestnut St.)
Sperry 2 Eye Neon Red Top Sider Shoes, $100 / South Moon Under (1731 Chestnut St.)
Jack Spade Duffle Bag, $295 / Art in the Age (116 N. Third St.)
Mainline Package (choice of tie, polo and tee), $123.75 / Duke & Winston (633 N. Second St.)