September 7, 2010

Self Edge: In The Details

Los Angeles has got a serious lack of stores when it comes to menswear. Yeah, yeah, blah, blah, we have a select few, but I'm speaking in broad generalizations here. That's why, when I learned Self Edge was opening a location here at 144 La Brea, I threw my arms open wide and ran through the field toward them in slow motion.

The store is just as you'd expect from an outfit such as Self Edge. The fixtures are custom and handmade, the hangers are specially-designed for the shop, and the stock is a veritable who's who of retail royalty. Proudly displayed on the store's biggest wall are three enormous clocks set to the local times of cities most synonymous with the SE look -- San Francisco, Tokyo and NYC. The space is sparsely decorated: no posters of Steve McQueen, or hot rods on the salt flats, no black and white images of men in leather aprons handcrafting in an American factory... just a couple of expertly worn pairs of denim, framed and labeled to MOCA standards. The shop would rather the product speak for itself, and in this case, it screams from behind UV-coated glass.

The most intriguing aspect of the the space itself is the flooring. The vintage, worn hardwood floor is made up of reclaimed basketball court boards. Sections of free throw, half court and three-point lines are scattered throughout the space so haphazardly they appear as thought-out as a Bauhaus masterpiece. Left over from a previous tenant, the floor is an indiscreet (to the point of being subliminal) nod to the undeniable connection between workwear and streetwear. The juxtaposition of the floor and rugs can be taken as a tongue-in-cheek, inside joke.

Even though Self Edge is known for its "rock-a-billy" sensibilities, there is enough contrast and variation in product to appeal to both their core demographic, and to the truest
connoisseur of menswear classics. It's obvious that hometown hero, Mister Freedom, reigns supreme among the crop with his hand-sewn accessories. But the store's cases are filled with a hand-selected assortment of goods, that are all worthy of careful inspection and praise.

The gods are, in fact, in the details and nobody seems to know this better than SE.
The iron hangers, which are handmade in Northern California, are a testament to such consideration. Constructed of the same metal and finished in the same patina as the rest of the fixtures, the hangers follow function, merely taking on the best form possible to display denim. Whether it is color, scale, or material, everything is considered with how it fits in the final space.

Utility becoming art -- a theme for sure.