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A Men's Fashion Destination
by Jialin Luh on Nov 18, 2010
The only San Francisco store to make it into GQ’s “10 Best Independent Men’s Stores in America” list published this month, Unionmade is the destination for the discerning stylish man. If you or any men in your life value quality-made goods that wear well (figuratively as well as literally), you simply must pay Unionmade a visit.
In today’s day and age of disposable clothing where you might get a few wears and discard (or find that your economically constructed purchase is quickly out-of-fashion), it’s refreshing to find a shop that values longevity, craftsmanship, and timelessness. While you’ll find items priced anywhere from $5 to $1,500, you can be sure anything you pick up from Unionmade is of lasting style and the best quality.
Owner-founder-buyer-creative director Todd Barket opened Unionmade in November 2009 after working at Gap Inc. for 19 years. His experience and expertise in Visuals and windows should be immediately apparent to passersby of the two large storefront window displays on Sanchez Street: everything is chosen and placed with purpose.
Setting foot in the shop feels like entering a handsome lodge. Wooden floors and fixtures, unobtrusive yet ample lighting, Old Glory adorning the wall above a shelf of books, and scents hinting of cedar, juniper, and pine beckon you to stay a spell and drink everything in. It’s a perfect setting for carefully selected goods embodying the philosophy behind Unionmade.
“Unionmade to me evokes the feeling of years gone by and the quality that occurred in American clothing,” Barket says. “I grew up in a small town in Pennsylvania where we had great small men’s stores that had great products with a nice personal touch.”
From American heritage to newer and foreign brands, everything Todd picks faithfully evinces the philosophy — whether it’s Wolverine work boots Alabama-made since 1883 or classic Saint James striped sailor shirts from France, Begg cashmere scarves or Lochcarron wool paperboy hats from Scotland, Levi’s Vintage or Pendleton meets Opening Ceremony sweaters and coats.
Serious sartorialists should take note of Unionmade collaborations with Alden and Golden Bear, both available only at Unionmade and in its Web store.
Since 1884, Alden Shoe Company has designed and produced handcrafted leather shoes that represent “America’s tradition of old-school, custom shoemaking.” Barket partnered with the company to design a custom line, the newest additions being the Plain Toe Walker in Reverse Tobacco Chamois ($435) and the Workboot in Tan Bison ($450).
Limited edition Golden Bear x Unionmade slim-fit varsity jackets ($198-$295) are selling fast. The custom collection also includes varsity vests and a pea coat. Family-owned and San Francisco-based Golden Bear started producing outerwear in 1922 and is still manufacturing near 16th Street and Potrero Street.
If you’re shopping for gifts, you’ll find plenty here for all budgets. Handsome handmade leather baseballs and footballs, vintage naval/military jewelry, and French bird calls are only a few of the options. Tanner leather goods, including wallets, belts and lanyards, also make tasteful presents.
Any of the apothecary items would also make great gifts for the manly man. Baxter of California supplies beautifully packaged grooming products for head-to-toe. Metaphor Organic’s San Francisco-made soaps and peppermint lip balm would make coveted stocking stuffers. Home scents from Juniper Ridge will change the way you think about incense.
In fact, a visit to Unionmade may make you re-evaluate your concept of quality. As with everything about the store, even the location on 18th Street and Sanchez was chosen with purpose. One reason Barket named: “to be away from popular shopping streets and be a destination for people.” A worthy destination, indeed.
by Jialin Luh on Nov 18, 2010