This Saturday is the official opening of the Buck Mason men’s clothing store at 107 N Larchmont Blvd. The occasion also coincides with the brand’s 5th anniversary and the launch of its latest sportswear line, the Bronson Collection, which includes classic sweatshirts, fleece pants and T-shirts inspired by heavyweight boxing in 1930s. Larchmont is the fifth retail store for the brand, which was founded on the idea of elevating classic men’s clothing like T-shirts and jeans with super comfortable fabric that looks good and wears well.
“We want to do one thing, really well,” explained co-founder Erik Allen who spoke with the Buzz earlier this week. Allen and his co-founder, Sasha Koehn, told us they opened their largest store on Larchmont because they were looking for a community as well as a retail location.
“When we started the business [in Venice], it was a combination office and retail store, and we found that we really built an amazing community around the store,” explained Allen. But as the company grew, he said, they needed more space and moved their operation downtown. So when it came time to open another store, Allen explained, “we realized that with our other locations in Abbot Kinney and Silver Lake, we were yearning for the community that was created in that first store. We knew about Larchmont and we spent a day there and we fell in love with the type of community that surrounds Larchmont. We really feel like it’s one of those last neighborhood Main Streets that’s like a small town kind of ‘Main Street,’ said Allen.
Allen also said that he hopes they are “honoring” the neighborhood with the new store.
“We’ve tried to amplify what was there,” said Allen. “It’s not like slapping your concept on the street. We wanted it to feel like we are honoring what’s there, and it feels like that’s already happening.”
According to Allen, the community has really responded to the new store during its soft open phase in the last few weeks.
“So far, we are ecstatic about the response. 98% of our customers are local,” he explained. “It’s the early phase and we’re being discovered by people locally. Right now, the majority of people coming in have never even heard of us and they live in the neighborhood.” Checking his statistics, Allen said 80% of the store’s customers are new to their customer database. The typical customer is 15-40 years old, but they are also really excited to see multi-generational shoppers at the Larchmont store. They were hoping that would be the case, given the family demographics of the surrounding neighborhoods, and he said they are really pleased to see it playing out.
“We are not designing for trends; we design for quality and fit for all ages because we know that if men find a product they like, they will stick with it forever,” said Allen.
As the newest retailer to move onto the street, Buck Mason isn’t exactly a mom-and-pop retail store, but Koehn and Allen consider themselves a family business.
“We are a local retailer and we run the store like a family business,” said Allen. He also noted that they started the brand with their own funds, though they now have some investors, who they saw are very much aligned with their vision of the brand.
Allen said the Buck Mason owners are also sensitive to the issues on the street, and don’t believe in the “retail apocalypse” as Allen described it.
“I don’t know what they’re talking about, I feel like there’s a retail renaissance,” he said. But, he added, you have to focus on the customer. He said you can see that the brands that do that well are seeing some success.
The Larchmont store is so large, Allen said, they have decided to bring their e-commerce operation into the back of the store, to “build a culture of retail, true retail – both e-commerce and bricks and mortar – and having everyone as close as possible to the store is the best way to do that,” explained Allen. He added, “you want to have your staff as close to the customers as possible. The closer to the customer we are, the better we do. It’s great to hear directly from the customer like we did when we first opened in the small space we had in Venice.”
The e-commerce staff will be located in former kitchen of the former Larchmont Bungalow and Allen said they are also looking around the neighborhood for office space for the rest of their operation so they can be close to the Larchmont store.
So we had to ask — why are they calling the Larchmont store’s location Hancock Park, when it’s really in Windsor Square?
“Yes, we know it’s Windsor Square,” they both laughed, “But we went with Hancock Park, because everybody knows the name. We know we’re breaking the rules there,” said Koehn and Allen.
Ok — we can overlook that as long as they know the difference.
The Grand Opening celebration, on Saturday between 12-7pm, will feature coffee and tea from Go Get Em Tiger, rotisserie chicken from “The Chicken Guys” (a popular vendor at the Larchmont Farmers Market), and brews from M. Special Brewery, a locally owned brewery.