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Nothing Average About It
by Michelle Sieling on Oct 28, 2010
While Mid-Market struggles to shed its grimy image, a quiet evolution is going on just a block away. New restaurants and shops are slowly filling in once empty store fronts, including the recently opened The Common on Mission Street at 7th Street in SOMA.
Continuing the recent tradition of hybrid retail spaces, The Common not only carries men’s and women’s clothing and accessories, but also coffee and art. The emphasis in the store is on stock that is made in the United States, if not at least locally, which often means handmade and/or small batch production.
Before opening The Common, owners Barrett Purdum, Michael Armenta, and Michael Maher hosted pop-up stores throughout the city, featuring clothing from local designers and shops, but those events were a lot of work for just a couple of days.
The trio wanted something more permanent and lucked upon the Mission space. In order to fill it quickly, they reached out to the community of friends that they made while working on the pop up stores and invited them to bring their unique designs into their store.
The team behind The Common is also the same group behind one of the store’s featured lines, Taylor Stitch — not to be confused with a certain blond country pop star. Taylor Stitch is a small, independent company based in the San Francisco that specializes in creating men's button-up shirts.
Both the ready-to-wear and custom shirts are handmade in the United States in limited quantities. They’re constructed from high quality fabric, interlinings, thread, and buttons and sewn together by hand with French seams, which provides a clean, finished, professional look to the inside of the garment
The ready-to-wear shirts are created in San Francisco and the custom-fit shirts are handmade in Newark, New Jersey by a third generation family business that has specialized in custom shirt making for over 75 years. Prices run from $150-$225.
With its light fixtures made of painted black garbage cans strung with rope, old crates fashioned into merchandise tables and display racks, and generally Spartan layout, the space feels masculine, yet refined.
And, in fact, most of the retail space is devoted to men’s clothing. In addition to Taylor Stitch, you can find Tellason Denim jeans ($198), Grown & Sewn leather belts ($95) and distressed khakis from Grown & Sewn’s artisan collection ($95). Gentlemen can put the finishing touch to their outfits with neck ties ($120) and bow ties ($120) in madras, plaids, and solids from Pierrepont Hicks.
There is also a selection of canvas bags from Wm J. Mills & Co Sailmakers, in colors such as storm gray, napthol red, and navy blue. Style choices include the classic “Ice Bag” tote ($149), a briefcase ($143), and the “Shelter Island” duffel ($143).
Whereas the men’s collection is conservative and traditional, the women’s inventory is chic and modern. There are dresses and tops from West Coast designers, like a vintage inspired gray dress with a floral print from Kanaro ($197), and a black dress with lace shoulders from Lamixx ($64).
Accessories include a wool and cotton "Technical Grid" oblong scarf in Arctic blue and sepia from Loomlab ($99), mini bags from Rachel Nasvik in purple and brown ($140), chainmail and rubber bracelets from Steel Couture ($40) and cross armor body chains ($212). Don’t worry, the cross armor body chains come with instructions in case you can’t figure out how to wear it.
Less than a month old, The Common is still a work in progress, but is growing beyond retail rapidly. Beginning this week, Four Barrel coffee will be available. You can relax and enjoy it at the communal table in the back. Soon there will be a rotating food cart and occasional speakeasy supper clubs. Adjacent to the large retail shop is a gallery space that the owners also run. It will open on November 3rd. It’s got a bar and stage, and you can even rent it for events.
by Michelle Sieling on Oct 28, 2010