Something is happening in San Francisco. Bars in the Mission, ones like Zeitgeist with their expansive selection of local drafts and welcoming backyards, are swarming with sharply dressed men, embodying a new era for menswear in the city that brought us decades of iconic looks.
These are no longer the bearded hippies of the Haight, nor are they the mustached machos of the Castro. The new San Francisco man is quirky in his Warby Parker glasses, selvedge denim, and a rugged quilted vest. He smells of musk and drinks local craft brews. This isn’t a new phenomenon in major American cities, but it is interesting to see the momentum of quality boutiques catering to the men of Google, Apple, and Facebook, who have invaded the city, creating a menswear destination that rivals Tokyo or New York. After chasing this zeitgeist, we compiled some of the best shops in the Bay Area.
In a word, Welcome Stranger is rugged. That being said, there is an airy softness to this Hayes Valley shop. The store stocks an excellent array of the widely popular and the undiscovered. From Barbour to Gant to Saturdays and APC, Welcome Stranger’s customer seems to respond to the ever-present blend of streamlined utility. They also have their own label, featuring brightly colored cords, the perfect green and white varsity jacket, and of course, their signature buffalo graphic tees. 460 Gough Street, www.welcomestranger.com.
Around the corner from Welcome Stranger is Azalea, a haven for the upwardly trendy. This store offers goods for both men and women and remains the city’s premier home from British hit brand Topman. Beyond that they offer apothecary brands like Malin + Goetz as well as San Fran-centric tote bags from local company, Joshu + Velu for $48. Other brands include Tovar, Scotch & Soda, Obey, and Zanerobe. The denim wall here is incredible with unique selvedge options in addition to old classics. 411 Hayes Street, www.azaleasf.com.
“Hold Fast To Youth,” is written in white letters against the white walls. This saying perfectly encapsulates the phenomenon known as Benny Gold. Like a more evolved version of Stüssy, Benny Gold stocks artist-designed tees and a well-curated selection of footwear. Their hats are a San Francisco staple, seen everywhere in the Mission District and available in a multitude of prints and colors, some with funny phrases like “Works for Jerks.” Their most impressive items are definitely the selvedge denim, made in the US, and sold in a dark indigo wash and jet black for $198. 3169 16th Street, www.bennygold.com.
Rand + Statler
Elevated, urban, and luxury is what Rand + Statler is all about. Much like New York’s Barneys Co-Op or Paris’ Colette, this Hayes Valley destination is designed for the fashion-forward, label-savvy gentleman. Brands like Acne, Paul Smith, Shipley & Halmos, and Rag & Bone, among others, sit still on racks that are minimal and yet inviting. Rand + Statler seems to owns the city’s surplus of Comme des Garçons. Don’t be shocked by high prices, but if you’re feeling like a big spender, bee line it to the navy and black leather and wool Acne moto jacket. 425 Hayes Street, www.randandstatler.com.
Soft is an understatement. Simplicity is key at Marine Layer, a source for the supplest cottons in town. A local favorite, their tees, hoodies, and knits are crafted with the touch in mind. Their chambray-lined jersey zip-up hoodies are perfect for a stylish statement when the incredible winds hit the city. The brand was founded over ten years ago and has been producing quality products with minimal environmental footprint ever since. 498 Hayes Street, www.marinelayer.com.
Piper’s Shoe Parlor
Past the Whole Foods Market, past the crowd of vagabond teens with skateboards and Kombucha tea, you find Piper’s Shoe Parlor on the ever-evolving Haight Street. What was once a home to hippies, then a home for the homeless, the Haight is turning into a new style destination. Piper’s Shoe Parlor, with its vintage bicycles in the window and bluesy music, is an excellent example of the renaissance. Their stocklist is comfortable and eclectic with brands like Tretorn and Red Wing in every style you could ask for. It’s hard not to fall in love with the pony hair leopard-printed H by Hudson smoking slippers. 1682 Haight Street, www.pipershoes.com.
What started with a custom shirt business in a small apartment on the corner of Taylor and Clay Streets has grown into a fully formed brand with a loyal clientele. When you walk into their brick & mortar shop on Valencia Street, you can tell Taylor Stitch has carved out a niche with customers almost drooling over the plethora of options. The staff is friendly and open to questions, whether it’s about the fits of their ready-to-wear line or their made-to-measure shoe program partnership with Rancourt & Co. Not into customized clothing? Pick up of their meticulously sourced vintage Rolex watches. Without a doubt, Taylor Stitch is a brand to watch. 383 Valencia Street, www.taylorstitch.com.
Max McCormack is a writer and fashion publicist in New York City. A global traveller, when not pitching brands, producing shows, and discovering New York’s most vivacious locations, Max is found knee-deep in Sallinger or Sedaris, waiting for his connecting flight. Follow his adventures on Twitter @maxmccormack