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Over the past year, the opening of men's stores like Bonobos Guideshop, Carson Street Clothiers, Fellow Barber, and most recently, Miansai have positioned Crosby Street as a staunch competitor for the city's ultimate menswear destination. Bounded by Houston and Howard streets, the five-block corridor is seemingly the center of the growing #menswear movement that represents a younger, internet-savvy subset of male shoppers.
In 2009, Saturdays Surf opened its New York flagship on the row at a time when rents around Soho were dropping. Reportedly drawn by the laid-back vibe of Crosby Street with its cobblestones, it took about four years before other menswear boutiques came en masse, all looking to benefit from the tourist traffic from the Mondrian and Crosby Street hotels, as well as the creative professionals already residing in the neighborhood.
The Saturdays outdoor hangout. Photo via Saturdays Surf
"Small spaces are rare in Soho," said Beth Rosen of Robert K. Futterman & Associates, who handled the leasing of some of the key storefronts. "Saturdays Surf set the tone, so we followed that." First up for the 2013 influx of menswear was Carson Street Clothiers. Founded by former lawyers Matt Breen and Brian Trunzo, the multi-brand store caters to "old men with young souls and young men with old souls," according to the pair.
"'Crosby Street Men' share at least one core fundamental characteristic, and that's that they appreciate nice things," said Trunzo of their customers, 35 percent of whom he says are from foot traffic. "We don't feel that there is any inherent connection between ourselves and our menswear neighbors with respect to product, but we definitely believe that we all operate on a similar wavelength when it comes to providing beautiful quality wares for our customers."
Carson Street Clothiers. Photo by Rebecca Dale
With their name pulling from a block in Manayunk, Pennsylvania (Breen and Trunzo lived there as law school roommates), Carson Street boasts a lounge area replete with an LED television, chairs, couches and both alcoholic and non-alcoholic beverages. "The lounge was enormously important to us," said Trunzo. "From the jump, we always wanted to be able to provide an area dedicated to customer relaxation. We wanted our lounge to be in the back of the shop and accessible to anyone who cares to use it."
The lounge area adds a bit of relaxed luxury that comes present in most of the neighboring boutiques. Owned by Morgan Collett, Josh Rosen and Colin Tunstall, Saturday's Surf includes both a deck and espresso bar. At Carson, the lounge is used to entertain guests, take meetings, and even screen sports matches.
The Bonobos Guideshop, though it lacks a deck or an official bar, was next. Traditionally an e-tailer, the Bonobos empire is built on trousers, though no patron will leave their Crosby Street location—nor any another for that matter—toting a pair. Aiming to provide the tangible component to online shopping, the guideshop allows customers to try on Bonobos wares to figure out fit, and afterwards, products are ordered and shipped to their doorsteps.
Fellow Barber. Photo via Fellow Barber
Toward the end of the summer, Crosby Street's offerings expanded to include grooming, with the opening of Fellow Barber. A brainchild of Sam Buffa of FSC Barber, the men's barbershop and apothecary provides a salon experience close to a barbershop cost. With the apothecary staffed by grooming guides that can assist men in navigating products from ODIN, Ursa Major, Juniper Ridge, as well as Fellow Barber's in-house line come 2014, the shop comes off sleek and bespoke; Buffa himself designed most of the pieces himself in Brooklyn. In the back, Fellow Barber sports a deck that's open year round for customers and will receive a revamp come spring.
"What's great about this neighborhood is the creative work environment that exists all around us," said Buffa. "We are very fortunate to be surrounded by a variety of like-minded retailers like Saturdays, Carson Street Clothiers, Miansai and Bonobos, who have been groundbreakers in retail. " At that same address sits Miansai, the latest addition to Crosby. The first of five-year-old Miansai's brick-and-mortar offerings, the store includes a small café area in the front that serves Kombucha and tea as well as a build-your-own bracelet station.
Miansai. Photo by Renie Saliba
"I always wanted to do some sort of bar," said Michael Saiger, the brand's creative director. "I wanted to have a chill environment so people could come and relax there. I didn't want it to just be a place to buy things. Having been stocked at Saturday's since 2009, Saiger was already familiar with Crosby Street. "There were a lot of people after the space, but three of the deals fell through and they came back to me."—Mikelle Street
· Carson Street: From the Blogosphere to Brick and Mortar [Racked NY]
· Miansai Hooks Onto Crosby Street With Its First Flagship [Racked NY]
· Bonobos' First NYC Street Level Guideshop Opens Tomorrow! [Racked NY]
· All Year in Racked 2013 Posts [Racked NY]