FASHION/SHOPPING Everything seems so chill in men’s street wear lately, no? The harsh electro neons and jittery MySpace fabrics of the past few years have gone the way of shutter shades and full-print tees. Flashiness — on the dance floor, on the streets, online — is fading into a style of subtle sparks, complex yet unfussy, mixing high-tech winks with a comfy, endlessly expandable base. Menswear is going deep on us, and taking our sensibilities with it: if you’re still using irony to justify your outfit, then you need to back slowly away from your Tumblr and take a look around.
This makes it harder to binge shop for your wardrobe at thrift stores, of course, unless you’ve got a great connection to a super-hip tailor who won’t go overboard. And I fear that by jettisoning the devil-may-care attitude of WTF bricolage ensembles, we’re quaffing any sense of humor altogether. Still, the burst of, dare I say, modesty after a decade of gaudy attention-whoring comes as a relief. It feels like menswear in 2011 just totally deleted the comments section and moved on.
Another worry, though: how much does all this cost? It’s true that the new look and feel hearkens back to the old model of class, taste, and, yes, accounts. Fortunately, you can get by just fine matching neutral-leaning thrift and vintage finds — some holes or split seams, no problem — with newer touches. Yay for casual deconstruction! Lately San Francisco, previously by no means an oasis of menswear shopping, has opened up in the cool men’s streetwear department, adding to its handful of staples (Nomads, Upper Playground, Density, Unionmade, Azalea, Brooklyn Circus, etc.) a batch of new places and sites to search for spring inspiration. Below are some of my faves.
SUI GENERIS “ILLE”
This is the coolest place to vintage shop in the city right now. Castro men’s designer consignment boutique Sui Generis isn’t new, but it just moved, doubling its size as well as its offerings, and adding “Ille,” a Latin masculine declension, after its name. (Owners Miguel Lopez and Gabriel Yanez have turned the old location, at 2265 Market St., into “Illa,” a gorgeous upscale women’s consignment shop.) I’m far from a label whore, but I can appreciate when my friends gush over the selection of repriced Prada, etc. on offer here, all of it chosen with an excellent eye. Beyond the brand worship, you’ll find everything you need to construct a look here — just add your own futuristic flourishes — and the prices aren’t too shabby.
2265 Market, SF. (415) 437-2231, www.suigenerisconsignment.com
NICE COLLECTIVE MSU
Just down the street from Sui Generis is this rad pop-up shop from the boys at the fantastic local Nice Collective label, showcasing their particular genius for deconstructed clothing that radiates raffish gentility. (I’m living for their anarcho-utopian push-up cargo pants.) The tech details in most of their designs are fascinating, and the interior of this shop, with its disassembled drop ceiling, billowing canvas tunnel entrance, and digital projections, is a work of art in itself. Nice Collective is a real, big time design house, though, so expect related price points and quality.
2111 Market, SF. (415) 200-5322, www.nicecollective.com
Go to this just-opened Mission District store if only to bask in the incredible friendliness, not pushiness, of the people who work there. As well as carrying unique items from local design wunderkinds Turk + Taylor — I’m still drooling over this one heavy felt Army jacket there — Hangr 16 offers an array of super-affordable button-ups, western shirts, plaid flannels, jeans, and nifty tees in its immaculate little white hangar of a space. More shopping options in the Mission? Oh yeah.
3128 16th St., SF. (415) 626-5522. www.faceboook.com/hangr16
BUSH + LEAVENWORTH
A smooth take on classic Americana from this online design house, founded by Neth Nom at his apartment guess where. Light plaid button-ups and some mouthwatering tee designs based on chess pieces (queen for me!) are highlights, as is the ultra-sporty nylon Fillmore windbreaker, combining Members Only stylishness with team jacket masculinity.
Bike enthusiasts with chronic Chrome fatigue should fixie-fly to this hidden little warehouse outlet immediately. Beautifully crafted messenger bags and backpacks in unique styles are the draw, but the supplementary Quoc Pham, DZR, and house footwear, plus a good selection of outerwear, transcend utility to style bliss.
40 Rondel Place, SF. (415) 864-7225, www.missionworkshop.com
I am crying, weeping with want, over this kickass pair of Yuketen Maine Guide OX Red shoes that look like Docksides on steroids. They are $440 at Revolver, a cute little joint that just opened in Lower Haight, and, alas, I sold my first-born for a baggie in the 1990s. But I am going to try them on with a pair of $199 Denham Mohawk chinos and a post-prepster $160 ecru Vassan 2-Tone jacket and yacht rock the fuck out for a few minutes.
136 Fillmore, SF. (415) 871-0665, www.revolversf.com
I really hate to recommend a chain, even one from Britain that’s just launching on these shores. But hey, I can’t afford anything here anyway (basic shirts start at around $140), so I’m going to tell you to go and check it out, if only because of the stunning interior that mixes steampunk accents with actual Victoriana. The clothes represent the complete yet fascinating gentrification of a certain postapocalyptic Burning Man aesthetic (the one without the sex clowns and fun fur). Everything is perfectly distressed — work boots, for instance, that gleam vermilion in certain slants of light.
140 Geary, SF. (415) 762-0702, www.allsaints.com