South Park Magazine

June 20, 2014

Men of Style

Meet the dapper gentlemen behind some of Charlotte's most fashion-forward shops

David Watkins, owner, Abbeydale

Seven years ago, David Watkins found his calling. After ditching a career in advertising, he dove into men’s fashion and four years ago opened Uptown’s Abbeydale, an upscale men’s boutique specializing in custom designs and wardrobe styling for men.

What makes Abbeydale different than other men's clothing stores? Well for one, there isn't a ton of retail in Uptown, so we added a little something different to the scene here. I think our niche is in over serving our clients and really creating wardrobes from the ground up for them. Managing all of their formal and sometimes casual wear is what we really like to do and where we have the most success. From what we are told, our difference is in the way we construct our suits: [they’re] very tolerable to wear in the scorching summer heat. Once you go with a lightweight jacket from us, it's hard to turn back.

Name three must-have pieces in a man's wardrobe? A well-fitting navy blue solid suit, a high cotton crisp white dress shirt, and a bench-made pair of wingtips.​

Any fashionable male celebrity stand outs? Fellas who never seem to miss are Anderson Cooper for his consistency, David Beckham when he wears a suit for his fit and low-key approach, and one guy you may not be aware of, Matt Lauer. That guy ​always keeps it well tailored.  

Who are the most stylish men in Charlotte? All of the guys at Taylor Richards Conger. Just go there for the visuals and pick up a few items as a way to say thanks for keeping Charlotte cool.​

What do you think about men's fashion--Particularly in Uptown? Men's fashion is always contracting or expanding. The last few years we have seen suits getting slimmer. I anticipate we are headed back to fuller fits, but nowhere near the fit in the nineties. Also, the younger generation I see in Uptown really care about their fit. These guys are paying attention and showing up to work looking like senior management. I love it.

Bruce Julian, owner, Bruce Julian Clothier

A mainstay in men’s fashion, Bruce Julian has been outfitting Charlotte men like well-known attorney Bill Diehl and other power players in the city with chic, fashionable suits, ties, and the like for more than four decades. Today, not much has changed: Julian continues to stay on trend with the latest in men’s fashion offering it in his Arboretum storefront.

What makes a man fashionable? If you have clean, fitting, flat-front pants and a nice fitting shirt, a sport coat with the lapel 3 inches or less, and nicely shined shoes you are in the game.

What are some fashion faux pas in men's fashion? Clothes are called names for a reason. Gym shorts are only for the gym, not the mall or the airport. Athletic shoes are for exercise, pajama bottoms are for sleeping not teenage girls at the grocery store, flip flops are for the shower at the gym, and if you must wear sandals you might as well wear them with dark socks.

What are must-have pieces in a man's wardrobe? Nice sport coat, a casual white shirt, flat-front slacks or dark jeans.

Favorite fashionable celeb? I like Pharell Williams. He sports that Dudley Do Right Hat!

How would you describe men's fashion in Charlotte? When you see a fashionable male in Charlotte he looks better than in most cities because there is not enough of them.

Bradley Rhyne and Filipe Ho, co-owners, Ole Mason Jar

Since meeting at Appalachian State, Bradley Rhyne and Filipe Ho have had similar aspirations of starting their own clothing line. Both born and raised in the Tar Heel State, the duo saw “a noticeable gap in the marketplace for trend-inspired southern design with a great fit,” says Rhyne, not to mention clothing made in the USA. Enter Ole Mason Jar, the upscale line of clothing that encompasses everything the duo felt was missing in men’s fashion.

What makes Ole Mason Jar different from other men’s clothing lines? Filipe: The staple of our brand is our button down shirt—what we feel is one of the best button down shirts in the world. Our focus is on fit and quality: a more modern and trim fit with some of the highest quality Italian fabrics. Additionally, our shirts are handcrafted right here in North Carolina USA. Second and third generation North Carolinians who have grown up in the industry are hand sewing our shirts; textiles is in their blood and you won’t find better). And we are dedicated to giving back through partnerships with various organizations aimed at helping those underprivileged and in need. Every item we sell we give back a percentage that will feed an entire family.

How has men's fashion changed over the years? Brad: There is definitely a movement going on right now where men are caring more and more about what they are wearing. We think a lot of that has to do with fashion moving away from your generic major labels to more intimate brands that stand for something and tell a great story. It is no longer about a shirt or a pair of pants, but rather an entire lifestyle.

What makes a man fashionable? Filipe: Pieces that fit great and parallel a man’s personality is ultimately what is going to make him fashionable. There is not a set playbook, only simple rules to follow and adjust according to what someone feels comfortable in. As long as it fits great, and the person wearing it feels great and confident wearing it, he is going to exude being fashionable!

What are some fashion faux pas in men's fashion? Filipe Fit is everything, and so often men just don’t know any better and wear something that is generally a size or two too big. Shoes are another major bone of contention for us, as we see so many men getting everything else pretty close to right, but skimping on the shoes. Investing in a great pair of black and brown shoes and keeping them in good shape pays major dividends.

What would you say are the three must-have pieces in a man's wardrobe? Brad: A white oxford, some dark denim, and a navy unconstructed blazer. These are going to be your most versatile pieces that can be interchanged with multiple other items or pieces.

How would you describe men's fashion in Charlotte? Brad: Men’s fashion is coming along here in Charlotte. It is a traditional banking town, and being a banker myself I completely get it. Simple suits with white or blue shirt is always going to lead the way here, but I do see more and more suits with a better fit and small details being added more and more on the streets of North Tryon. Additionally, as we continue to grow—along with some of the other great menswear brands here in Charlotte—I think we will see the fashion seen get that much better.

Fidel Montoya, co-owner, Silverfly

Until Silverfly landed on the scene in 2012, Charlotte’s Midtown neighborhood was lacking in great clothing stores let alone men’s fashion storefronts. Located in the bustling Metropolitan, Silverfly, says Montoya, filled a void in men’s fashion, bringing Charlotte men lines like Vince, Scotch & Soda, and Hudson, which were once only available in larger cities.

What makes Silverfly different? Our customers tell us we're unique because we carry so many different lines and at the same time we offer the personalized boutique experience. Silverfly offers more than thirty-five different lines of clothing, denim, shoes, and accessories. We are always bringing in new lines and offering something new to our customers.

What makes a man "fashionable"? It doesn't matter if it's a casual or formal wear, it's important to feel comfortable. It's good to push the envelope, but it has to be age appropriate, flattering to your body, and a style that represents you. If a person is not comfortable in their skin, they are not going to show that air of confidence. I feel that what makes a man fashionable is being able bring comfort, style, fit, and expression together.

Any fashion mistakes around Charlotte? In Charlotte, you see a lot of khaki pants and blue shirts. If you're gonna wear the khakis, make sure they don't have pleats—a modern fit is always best. Another recommendation for men is always buy slim-fit shirts. Guys carry their weight in front, not on the sides. Purchase 
the right size slim fit shirt so that it does not look big and boxy.

Name three must-have pieces in a man's wardrobe. Sports coat, basic proper fitting tee, and medium color denim. A dark blue sports coat is always safe, but to stand out in a crowd try a red sports coat or light blue sports coat with a large window pane pattern. Both would go great with a basic tee and denim.  

Who's Charlotte's most stylish guy? [Olympic swimmer] Cullen Jones has been a supporter of Silverfly since we opened. He has a great sense of style and knows how to accessorize. He can add jewelry or the right pair of shoes to complete an outfit. He's also willing to stand out with unique items like a wooden bow tie or wrist wraps.

Richard Pattison, co-founder, Taylor, Richards & Conger

Arguably Charlotte’s foremost expert in men’s fashion, Richard Pattison has been working in men’s clothing since the age of sixteen. Just one reason SouthPark’s Taylor Richards Conger has been a fashion staple in the city since 1986, Pattison’s southern upbringing puts him at an advantage when it comes to dressing Charlotte men.

What makes TRC stand out? Our ‘reason to be’ in 1986 was to demonstrate a different style of dressing to the men in the Charlotte region. My founding partners, Glen Taylor and Lyn Conger, and I were very familiar with classic Southern dress: seersucker suits, navy blazers with khaki trousers, button-down collar dress shirts. But European clothing was particularly interesting to us because the styling was fresher, the fabrics were better, and the tailoring quality was superior. The fact that no other Charlotte shops were offering European clothing at the time made that the perfect niche market. Since then our market has expanded dramatically to include clothing made in America, but the concept of offering a solution to the question of proper dress for men in a pleasant and visually stimulating environment has remained steadfast since our beginning.

What makes a man "fashionable"? Confidence. And the knowledge needed to dress properly for any occasion. The ‘fashionable man’ may not always adhere to those rules because he is conversant in the art of dressing and knows how and when to break them.

Three must-have pieces in a man's wardrobe? A dark suit, be it deep blue, charcoal grey, or dark chocolate ; the perfect pair of jeans; and a great pair of dress shoes.

Who are the most fashionable male celebrities? George Clooney, Omar Sharif, and Sean Connery come to mind, but the real dressers were Fred Astaire, Cary Grant, Errol Flynn, and their contemporaries from Old Hollywood. Michael B. Jordan, Jimmy Fallon, and David Beckham have taken the mantle from the old-timers. Sadly, there are many more male celebrities today in need of good sartorial advice than those who don’t.

Christian Gregson, creative director/co-owner, Imperial Black Christian Gregson’s foray into men’s fashion began simply: everyone wanted to know where he purchased his suits and shirts—all made by a tailor in Italy. After enough inquiries, he decided to bring that same quality directly to Charlotteans and, along with his partners, last year launched Imperial Black, a line of upscale Italian-made men’s shirts as well as leather goods and accessories made in North Carolina.

What makes Imperial Black different? Imperial Black is not a shop but we do open our headquarters to the public if you let us know you are coming by. Our shirts are made in limited, small batches  and we spare no expense: Mother of pearl buttons, tailored side seams, and single needle stitching. We set out to create the perfect shirt and feel that we have done so. The same level of detail is coming to our full collection of pants, coats, and luggage which will be available this fall.

Is men's fashion changing? Like everything else, fashions tend to come and go and soon end up repeating themselves. However, a sense of style is never out of fashion and the true classics will always be around. Men are finally getting wise to the fact that well-tailored clothing actually enhances their physique. I think that’s why the men’s dress shirt is experiencing a bit of a renaissance. A nice shirt has broken free of the suit and looks fantastic with a pair of good denim or a properly tailored trouser.

Lets talk fashion faux pas. Suits that are at least two sizes too big. Go to a tailor, get measured. Your significant other will thank you immensely. Any square toed dress shoe, which is best left in 1994 or 1995. Crocs—surely men still don’t wear them. Flipflops when not near a body of water.

What about Charlotte men's fashion? Everyone says that Charlotte is a conservative place. It is but it’s still no excuse to dress poorly. Conservative doesn’t need to go hand in hand with ill fitting. We are lucky that our customers understand the intrinsic worth of an object that is well made and that has a bit of history. Our guys aren’t interested in fast fashion and throwaway culture which seems to run counter to the apparel landscape as a whole.

Paul Haddock, founder, Fairclough & Co.

What began as a clothing job while in college in the late 1970s morphed into a career for Paul Haddock. Today, the founder of Myers Park’s Fairclough & Co. is busy dressing and styling the city’s most fashionable men in modern traditional menswear and custom clothing.

How has men's fashion changed over the years? The greatest change has been the shift back to trim clothing, for example skinny suits, narrow lapels, shorter coats, flat-front pants. In a lot of ways it is back to the early 1960s. Menswear continues to reinvent itself with great influences form the past.

What are some fashion faux pas in men's fashion? Clothes that do not fit well.

What are the three must-have pieces in a man's wardrobe? A tuxedo, a dark suit and a navy blazer.

Who are the most fashionable male celebrities? Cary Grant and Fred Astaire are my all-time favorites. They both had style that transcends time. In current times Prince Charles and George Clooney always look great.

How would you describe men's fashion in Charlotte? Charlotte is a world class city known for banking and commerce. Successful men in this town dress that part.

Who are the best men's fashion designers? Fairclough & Co. is drawn to many of the southern-inspired designers: Allen Stephenson, who is the founder and creator of Southern Tide in Greenville, South Carolina; Chris Knott, founder of North Carolina-based Peter Millar; and Randy Hanauer who makes ties for us in Fort Mill, South Carolina. Additionally, Bill Thomas, founder of Bills Khakis. Everything in his line is made in the US. We are proud to feature any Made-in-America products.

Harold Jordan, project manager/co-founder, Blank Canvas

A self-described sneaker enthusiast, Harold Jordan found the perfect job when he and Nicole Blackmon opened Blank Canvas in South End in 2013. Today, the chic store is bringing stylish handcrafter bowties, neckwear, custom color soles, and leather products to the Queen City’s most stylish men.

Is men's style changing? It has become very trendy. Some men are inspired to wear what they see on TV, rather than come up with their own style.

What makes a man "fashionable"? The way he styles himself.  Some men let the clothing brands make him.

What's the biggest fashion "don't"? That everything should match. At Blank Canvas, we believe in taking risks, and that style has no boundaries.

Tell us your three must-haves. A tie or bowtie, a sports blazer, and a tailored black suit.

Who do you think are the most stylish men in Charlotte? The owners of Taylor Richards Conger.

What men's fashion designers stand out in your mind? Tom Ford and Ralph Lauren. Both of these designers remain timeless. Their brands exemplify both classic and uniqueness.  

Jay Barone, general manager and buyer, Revolution

As the buyer for Revolution, Jay Barone doesn’t follow the trends. He creates them. “I create the forecast,” says Barone, who has been in the fashion industry for 18 years. “Being a men’s and women’s buyer, I get to forecast the trends I want to set within the city and for my clients that shop here.”

How would you describe Charlotte men’s fashion? I saw the first pair of Rock n Republics come to Charlotte. I think [style here] is developing. It’s here. There are definitely creative stylists and creative people out there. Being that we’re a banking city it’s going to fall on a conservative side. There’s a fine line of what Charlotte can actually do with style. It’s tricky for guys in the [banking] industry to be able to show they have style.

What’s the biggest trend in men’s fashion today? It’s very clean. I think the new hot is the gentleman. The cleaned up, nice beard, nice part in his hair. It’s been done for a while now but it’s really taken into effect. The new rock n roll is the guy that’s well put together: nice pair of trousers, suspenders, ties, button-up T-shirts, keeping the beard trim.

What celebrity is the most stylish? David Bowie. He’s always been in a bad-ass suit, hair is always gorgeous.

What are the three must-have pieces in a man's wardrobe? A great pair of loafers, a great watch, and a good well-tailored suit.

Where is men’s style headed in Charlotte? There’s still that Oxford outfit with the khakis. But there’s also this new guy that’s wearing the sharp, European-cut suit with his socks showing through his wing-tip shoes. There is that younger, more hip set up but Charlotte will always be the blue and khaki. It is what it is.

Doug Alexander, owner, Old Dog Clothing

Doug Alexander knows men’s fashion. After all, the owner of Charlotte’s impeccably-stylish Old Dog Clothing began his career in the industry in 1968 at local haberdasher, Tate-Brown Co. Since then, his Phillips Place boutique has become a staple in the local men’s fashion scene.

What makes a man stylish?
 A sense of style not the latest fashion.

What are the biggest faux pas in men’s fashion today? 
Cargo pants and shorts.

What are the three must-have pieces in a man's wardrobe? A good pair of shoes, a good belt, and a good blazer.

Favorite fashion designer? 
Ralph Lauren, I think, because he has never varied from his point of view. I may be biased as I worked with him in New York for ten years. 
 What does Southern fashion mean to you? 
Conservative, well-tailored clothing that's not over the top.

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