Karen Alberg Grossman visits Denver’s menswear scene, stopping by Andrisen Morton, The Garment District, Homer Reed Ltd., Players and the Goorin Bros. Hat Shop.
Established in 1978, Andrisen Morton is Denver’s go-to mecca for fine luxury menswear. The store is bright, open and beautifully merchandised, featuring key brands like Zegna, Brioni, Canali, Cucinelli, Etro, Isaia, Armani, and many more. Craig Andrisen and Dave Morton, working together for years, have mastered all the tricks of the trade including customer appreciation events, selling outside the store, and catering to some heavy hitters. But according to Dave’s daughter Lindsay, another secret weapon is their exceptional tailor shop. Stu and I were delighted to meet some very talented craftspeople: Hai Pham, Vicki Efthemeou, and Sandy Dagres.
Asked about current business, Craig Andrisen says it’s holding up nicely. “Our suit business is still very strong and sport jackets (both soft and washed) are flying out the door along with five-pocket pants in a multiple of fabrications. Cargo trousers in wool flannel and corduroys have been big hits, as have thigh length cashmere and wool outerwear.”
The Garment District
A fabulous contemporary store for men and women who want to dress with a bit of an edge! Jim Stevens first opened in Fort Collins in 1972, moving to Denver in 1980. He’s been in his current space (12,000 square feet that he wisely purchased) for 18 years. “We’re not in a mall so it’s a true destination store, equally divided between men’s and women’s (but as might be expected, women’s does more volume…)”
Hot menswear lines, according to Stevens, include all the denim brands (G-Star, Citizens, Hudson, Seven), as well as Hugo Boss, Z Zegna, Georg Roth Their fabulous footwear department features Allen Edmonds and Pliner. “The menswear mix is both contemporary and traditional,” says Stevens. “Guys can buy jeans and flip flops or a suit and buttondown shirt.”
The space is light and spacious and open, the décor eclectic featuring pinball machines, wonderful antiques, and a gorgeous colored glass chandelier, brought over from a church in Fort Collins (the Denver store was actually built to accommodate its glass dome.)
Homer Reed Ltd.
Homer Reed was first in the ice cream business in Chicago; he became a navy pilot during WWII and then opened his Denver store in 1952. “His biggest attribute was his love for people,” recalls his son Mark, who started working in the store at age 10. “My primary job was carrying boxes to the post office, way before UPS. People would often let me cut in line since I was a little kid with a lot of boxes…”
Bill Folk was once in the restaurant business but when his mom married Homer Reed, Bill decided (24 years ago) that he might have a better life in retail than in restaurants. (Some would beg to differ…) In any case, the Homer Reed team featuring Mark Reed and Bill and Lynn Folk has acquired a loyal following based on a focused mix of business and casual menswear coupled with great service.
Hot at the moment: sportcoats from Hickey Freeman and Jack Victor, plain front pants from Ballin, Bills and Alberto, shirts from Gitman, Robert Talbott and Scott Barber, Carrot & Gibbs bowties, and outerwear. “We buy items,” Folk explains. “We don’t buy a lot of anything because we want to establish a sense of urgency: our customers know that if they don’t buy it now, they might not find it later…” Mark Reed points out that the mix in their Greenwood Village store is more casual; downtown, Reed just sold $8,000 worth of clothing to an attorney who bought six suits and 16 dress shirts! He notes that while a good percentage of their mix happens to be made in America, he’s always amazed that his customers care so little about country of origin.
Scott Peterson was a buyer for Polo for 28 years; Jim Harder was co-owner of Trouts in Denver, a store he opened with a partner in 1990 that was one of the first to focus on’ business casual.’ On October 6, 2001, three weeks after 9-11, the two teamed up to launch Players, a wonderful 2,700 sq. ft. store that’s warm, welcoming and well merchandised. The décor is rustic with lots of character (“That’s mostly because it’s old,” quips Harder.) We are greeted at the door by Jake (more formally, Jumpin’ Jake), the sweetest friendliest canine you’ll ever meet!
Players’ product mix is classic and comfortable, but with definite flair. Featured brands include Scott Barber, Robert Graham (“The new stuff is doing especially well, most notable the X collection, jeans and knits”), Agave, Hiltl, Gardeur, Gimos outerwear (cloths and leathers from $800-$1,300), Lone Pine leathers, Schneiders of Austria and Wellensteyn. Hot items include five pocket pants in colors and small patterns (especially twills with detailing), Will Leathergoods, Codice knits (quarter zips), technical outerwear (with liners that adjust body temperature, $895) and a top-selling sportcoat/outerwear hybrid from Empire in solid colors and fancies retailing at $595. Harder explains that while they don’t sell many suits, they keep a small inventory of Joseph Abboud and Jack Victor year-round suit separates.
Goorin Bros Hat Shop, Larimer Street
I was stopped in my tracks rushing by this intriguing hat store on Larimer Street and couldn’t resist going in. Got great service from Ezra Ellis, a Brooklyn native relocated to Denver (“Did you bring me a corned beef sandwich?” he wants to know. “A real bagel at least?”) who happens to know as much about hats as he does about food. I tried on a dozen great hats and finally settled on a brown suede bucket style, allegedly waterproof, and made in America, of course!