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Thursday, March 3, 2011

The Common and Taylor Stitch Head to Valencia Street

Posted By on Thu, Mar 3, 2011 at 7:30 AM

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By Leonardo Plass

The Common, a retail-art-social space opened by Michael Armenta, Barrett Purdum, and Michael Maher, is moving to Valencia Street, just a few short steps from Four Barrel coffee. These guys have their own clothing line of ready-to-wear button downs as well as custom-tailored shirts called Taylor Stitch. I sat down with Barrett, at the new space still undergoing renovation, and picked his brain about the move and other such happenings. Here's what he had to say.

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What's going to be different about the new space versus the old?

"The other space was massive. We built a bar and a stage, had a gallery and the other side was a clothing store with a whole women's side just because it was so big. And then we had a Four Barrel coffee shop in the back. It was like a really fun 3 ring circus going on. So the new space is way smaller and more dialed in. I don't want to make any more coffee, I'm sick of cleaning up beer off the floor. We wanted to dial it down. We originally started making custom shirts by appointment 3 years ago. It was a great reception so we made our own ready to wear line. It's going to be more focused on Taylor Stitch and a few brands we want to surround ourselves with and focus more on working with them to create new products."

What other brands do you plan on carrying here?

"We're doing a lot of stuff with Wm. J. Mills & Co., Redwing, Yuketen will be in there. Grown & Sewn is going to be a big part of it, the khaki company, Rob the guy from RRL who makes his khakis in the city. We wanted to have our own identity in terms of bottoms and he has a lot of cool indigo dyed stuff coming out that we're real excited about."

Will you continue to do custom shirting?

"That will be a big part of it. We're going to try to make it more fun and a complete experience. When you get to do things a second time you get to use the previous experience to make it better."

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When you started doing custom shirts you did in home visits for measurements, did you run into any strange situations?

"Yeah, I had some people proposition me for sex. It's not my jam but whatever. Some dude had a steam room in his house and was all 'let's take a steam together'. But, other than that nothing too crazy."

Your shirts are American made. Are you attached to that concept or is that just the way things came about?

"Well basically when we did custom shirts the idea came because my Dad used to have custom shirts made in Hong Kong, he's the same size as me so I would take them. He was like 'stop taking all my fucking shirts' and so he would have my own made. After we graduated we went to visit tailors in Hong Kong and they were all really cool when you're there but when you get back and try to get in touch, it was impossible. So we found a shirt manufacturer named Gambert in Newark, Nj. It's a family business they've been doing custom shirts for 80 years. They're very small and just make beautiful stuff. And when we did our ready to wear line we wanted to make it in San Francisco because we thought it would be cool to keep it in the city. I don't want to speak negatively about people who manufacture overseas but being small I think you have the opportunity to manufacture in the U.S. and it's cool, because I'm still learning so much, to get to be more hands on."

Did you study fashion, and how did you guys all meet?

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"Mike, the blond haired guy, and I went to school at Babson together, we both had degrees in entrepreneurship and we got hooked on the custom shirt idea. So we came out here, split a room for a while, worked all kinds of crazy jobs. Mike(not blond) was a younger brother of friends we went to college with, he moved out and slept on our couch for a year, helped us start the brand, did all the graphic design, did all the branding which he's done a killer job at, did the website. So that's how we all came together, Mike and I working out of our kitchen and Mike just came to crash on the couch and started working with us everyday."

The Common is slated to reopen at its new location on March, 10th. I'm scared I will be getting hopped up on coffee next door and ordering custom shirts way too often. I think you should do the same!

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