Tuesday, May 13, 2014

New York Shopping at LetterJ – It's All In a Name

   Men in New York have a new shopping destination, with an unusual name – LetterJ. It's housed in an airy former gallery space on West 23rd Street, near the Chelsea Piers and the High Line; but once inside, you could just as easily be in Santa Monica, or on Robertson Boulevard in Los Angeles. Sunlight streams through floor-to-ceiling front windows, lighting up a want that, need that selection of (mostly) casual clothing, plus accessories, bags, even candles and books. 

   Fashion As a 2nd Language visited LetterJ recently, and marveled at the range of unusual brands and reasonable prices. Here's a short list of names we saw on the shelves: Burkman Bros, Boy London, Gant Rugger (and Gant by Michael Bastian), Save Khaki, Mason's and Psycho Bunny. There are bracelets by M. Cohen, bags by Herschel Supply Co, and colorful skull candles, above, by D.L. & Co.

   LetterJ is the brainchild of Jason Somerfeld, an expert retailer and buyer with a big-picture understanding of what men want. He's stocked the store with products that create one aha moment after another: and he's priced them so an entire weekend's worth of gear (jeans, shorts, a couple of tees and a great-looking linen shirt) don't cost an arm and a leg. He's also chosen goods that appeal to all types of men, from skateboarders to retired lawyers. On the day we visited, we saw 20-somethings, 30-somethings and one particularly stylish 50-something shopping in the store – and each guy left with more than one item.

   And what's with the name, LetterJ? Somerfeld says, "It's in honor of my mother, JoJo, who always inspired me. It's also the first letter in my nephew's name, Jake, and in my own, of course – Jason." And don't they say, the family that shops together stays together? We're sold!

Photographs by Noël Sutherland