Fire Tower, Massachusetts.
Julio López Saguar
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FIRST, A WORD ABOUT SERVICE. Shops of New York City: I would like your help sometimes.
Like anyone who sets foot in stores and appreciates the inherent strangeness of retail, I admire a spiteful salesclerk: the air of resentment, the glacial response time, the high beauty-to-knowledge ratio. Really. When I shop in other cities, I often bristle at the good cheer. We’re sharing space, I think, but we’re not friends. Ignore me a little.
To wit: “I don’t think any nation should elevate service to the status of culture,” Zadie Smith wrote in The New Yorker recently, but I’m guessing she’s never shopped at Supreme.
Still, it’s not quite obsequious service I’m after. Maybe a sense of collusion? Part travel guide, part bestie? Someone who has read the spec sheet, or at least knows what drawer it’s in?
There are no guarantees in this town. Over the last few weeks, I’ve been mean-mugged at VFiles, ignored at Barneys, barely tolerated at Nike 21 Mercer, handled as if I were mildly contagious at A.P.C., helped enthusiastically at Opening Ceremony, offered a drink at Aether, treated like family at Raymour & Flanigan (don’t ask), and drawn into thoughtful conversation at Brian Procell’s vintage shop.
To be fair, it could have been totally the opposite in a different month, but the point remains: there isn’t a standard. There should be, and it should be Kasper.
When I walked into Han Kjobenhavn last week, from the back of the narrow store Kasper — thin, good tattoos, perfectly shaped beard, phenomenal accent — shouted, “What’s up, man?” in a disarmingly sincere manner. I’d been in a couple of weeks earlier, and I assumed he remembered my face. But as I was lurking in the store, I came to realize that unaffected affability was his mode. He welcomed people like family, let them inhale the store a bit, then slid over when they lingered on an item, offering back story or a barely there nudge to try it on.
I heard him patiently explain, probably for the 12th time that day, how the company name is based on the traditional spelling of Copenhagen. He was an ally, not a hand-holder. And it was seamless, even though he was stretched thin. (Kasper is the store manager. The other clerk had called in sick, so he was on his own.)
I should confess I know less than nothing about the importance of customer service to the Danish national identity, but I do know about its importance to Kasper.
ALL OF THIS would matter even if Han Kjobenhavn weren’t one of the most significant men’s wear openings in Manhattan in recent memory. Small in scale but long on ideas, this Danish line teems with welcome tweaks at the intersection of high-end streetwear and accessible casual high-end men’s wear.
There are a few dozen pieces here, tops, but they’re careful: a gray wool trench with striking wood buttons that’s based on a Danish letter carrier’s jacket ($700), a stunning mustard short coat with a high collar based on a Danish sailor’s jacket ($450). (Seeing the pattern here?) There’s a luscious varsity jacket — white wool in the body, beige mesh on the arms, separated with a strip of slate blue ($450) — that adds humor and softness to that overblown style. And a biker jacket was rendered in forest-green pig suede, with quilted shoulders ($1,200): it’s arresting, and it fit like a second skin.
These are familiar templates delivered with vision. The innovations are in the details, like on the corduroy work shirt with two front pockets at different elevations, and in colors like baby blue and a brick red. (I ended up taking home both.) The red camouflage running pants ($315) are the first fashion sweatpants I’ve ever considered buying. The blue suede work boots with a crepe sole were set apart thanks to a brown leather cap toe ($360). Hanging in the front of the store is a limited-edition three-piece collaboration with Pendleton — indigo-dyed wool in a camo print with a whale motif, a fabric custom-made by Pendleton — that is somehow flamboyant and conservative all at once. But that’s the balance Han Kjobenhavn achieves, to display flair without venturing far from the principles of clean design.
That’s true of the store itself, too — the dimpled circular black clamshell security tags complement the circle of small pinhole cutouts on the dressing room doors, which echoes the pearl-white round Bang & Olufsen speaker attached to the wall pouring out a Kanye West playlist. In addition to clothes, the store sells architecture books and Lego sets and backpacks and handsome sunglasses ($180), accouterments of a well-designed life.
Kasper had things to say about all of it. As with all effusive service, even dignified effusion, it was a little difficult to suss out reliable information from sheer enthusiasm. Maybe the tapered jeans ($180) looked great, maybe they bunched up around the knee more than they should. Maybe my corduroy shirts will stretch a bit, maybe they won’t. Whatever the case, it’s good to know there’s at least one other person willing to talk it out.
27 Prince Street, no phone, hankjobenhavn.com.
Connect Han Kjobenhavn is a small Danish line with big ambition, operating at the clever, style-forward intersection of streetwear and high-end fashion.
The Language The clothes are accessibly luxurious, relatable shapes done in rich fabrics in unexpected and beautiful colors.
Hold On, We’re Going Home The store offers a level of service that’s rare in the city: present, knowledgeable, not overbearing in any way.
(Source: The New York Times)
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Business Page, 1985
via Stephen Wirtz Gallery
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ILLUSTRATED ENCYCLOPEDIA OF GARDENING
American Horticultural Society ©1974