One of the great things about living in a diverse city is people watching. There is such an array of styles and individuality you begin to wonder where each person came from and what particular set of stories were packed away in the bags they brought with them from however many miles or continents away. And sometimes these styles begin to coalesce and homogenize in such a way that it’s clearly been taken and tempered by the local waters. It came from somewhere else, and was reborn by the culture apparent. It could be punk, bohemian, rocker, mod, or, in the case of Taylor Stitch, it could even be preppy. With three owners all hailing from the East Coast, and with backgrounds in preparatory schools, the clothing at Taylor reflects a particular set of ideals and history yet imbibes it with a twist that is unique to the edgy spirit of San Francisco. Think tattoo sleeved arms silhouetted by classic, dapper, almost academic prints and cuts. Even better, much of what you’ll find inside the clean, rustic interior is handmade here in California. So something so purely inspired by East Coast culture has found its own little home on the other side of the country. But, best of all, as opposed to merely adopting Taylor Stitch’s specific aesthetic, you can make it entirely your own by choosing your own fabrics and patterns only to have your shirt custom-made all the way back again on the East Coast. Fascinating.
Owners Michael Maher, Michael Armenta and Barrett Purdum moved to San Francisco with just such a vision, according to wholesale manager Juan Perez. It started as a door-to-door custom shirt business about three and a half years ago. Soon after, they opened their first brick and mortar along the spotty avenues of 6th and Mission, a location that never quite took hold in that financially adrift neck of the woods. Valencia Street, however, with a burgeoning pulse of commerce, was waiting. Several doors down from a new array of thriving boutiques and Four Barrel, Taylor Stitch finds itself thriving and making its rogue, preppy impression on the community. The first thing you will notice on the left as you enter the shop is an array of fabrics and prints beautifully organized on wooden shelves. Patrons can pick from these, have themselves measured and wait just a few weeks while their own custom made shirt is being tailored in Newark, New Jersey at an old school manufacture named Gambert. So old school it’s the second oldest manufacturer in the country, Perez told me. The same process can be applied to footwear, with an emphasis on moccasins. In this case, Taylor Stitch’s shoe line is facilitated by a unique relationship with shoemakers Rancourt & Co. out of Maine. Apparently, third generation owner Kyle Rancourt played hockey at an opposing school against creative director Michael Maher. This time, however, the arena was a win-win of exposure and productivity. Like the custom-made shirts, shoppers can be fitted and choose their favorite leathers, colors and makes for handmade shoes crafted in Lewiston.
If, however, you prefer to pick from the shelves or the rack, Taylor Stitch has finely stocked their shop with a handsome array of their own neckwear, jackets from Aether, their own locally handmade belts, handwoven panama hats from Ecuador, canvas bags as well as leather bags. The leather bags are gorgeous, and are designed by a friend of the company who works under the business name of Joshu + Vela. Yet, as proud of they are of the company they keep, however, Juan emphasized that the true goal of Taylor Stitch is to grow their own brand, with their own merchandise gradually filling every last shelf in the space. For, while they may hail from the East Coast, and while they may have landed here in the west, Taylor Stitch is its own thing. It’s so very San Francisco, sure, but only because they brought it here.
Visit Taylor Stitch at 383 Valencia Street and be sure to download StoreSnaps onto your iPhone so you can keep up to date with their info and products.