Things are changing my friends. Men no longer need to migrate to their basements to get away from the day-to-day grind of life. There’s a place they can go and get a fresh shave from a barber, talk life (and whatever may be on their mind), and learn about the in’s and out’s of well-crafted garments. Haberdash Chicago is on the forefront of what is going to be a neighborhood staple.
I took a trip to Chicago with one purpose; visit the highly buzzed about Haberdash Chicago. I’ve read about the eclectic shop that not only carried some of the best new brands in the country, but provided an experience that you couldn’t get any where else. Founder/president Adam Beltzman sat down with A&H Magazine this week and discussed his up-bringing, philosophy, and his plans to introduce a new bespoke shop inside Haberdash.
Adam, Thanks again for letting A&H magazine stop through Haberdash, Chicago. Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I grew up in the suburbs of Detroit and studied International Relations and Political Science at the University of Wisconsin. I started dating my wife when we were students at Wisconsin. She is from the Chicago suburbs. After graduation I decided to move to Chicago and attend law school at Loyola Chicago so I could be close to her. After law school I worked as an attorney for a few years before deciding that I wanted to follow my passion which was menswear. Since I was young kid I have always had an interest in clothing. I couldn’t wait to go back to school clothing shopping with my mom in the fall before school started. My parents had a great sense of style and taught me to appreciate nice clothing and to dress appropriately for specific occasions. It always stuck with me and blossomed as I got older.
I wanted to get out of law and do something entrepreneurial so I decided to open a men’s shop. The original Haberdash location opened in the Old Town neighborhood in 2005.
Your based out of Chicago. Have you seen the mentality of menswear change and grow since your arrival and the shop opening?
When Haberdash first opened in 2005 we were a much different store. We opened during the premium denim boom and the store catered to denim and directional sportswear. We had a loyal following but much of what we did was over the head of most Chicago guys. A few years later the denim bubble burst, the recession hit and it was time for a change. That’s when I started working with my current business partner and menswear industry veteran, Jerry Kamhi. Together we reimagined the business and started putting a plan together to build a new kind of men’s store. We wanted to get more classic and offer our customers a chance to really wardrobe themselves with casual sportswear as well as tailored clothing.
Our decision to change up the merchandising mix and get more classic coincided with the heritage and Made in America phenomenon which was just taking shape. We brought in a lot of classic or classic inspired lines (Gitman, Wolverine, Redwing, etc) and we had immediate success with our new direction. We called it ‘modern tradition’ as it was traditional menswear but with modern fits and sensibility. We then secured LBM 1911 and started building a tailored clothing business based on the soft construction. The tailored clothing part of our business is really growing.
You’ve got a tremendous selection of highly crafted goods throughout the store. Recently, you’ve teamed up with Gitman Bro’s to designs a series of Haberdash Shirts. What sparked your interest in a private label at the store? Any plans to expand into other styles/categories?
As I alluded to above, we needed to find brands that we could count on to deliver a quality product. My partner Jerry had a relationship with Gitman that went back several years so he suggested we contact them as they are a mainstay Made in America shirt company. Their Gitman Vintage line was just being unveiled at the time so we were able to create a private label dress shirt program as well as bring in Gitman Vintage which really took off.
Men’s stores have been doing private label for years – there is nothing new about it. We prefer to think of these relationships as partnerships and collaborations and we do co-branded labels to let our customer know that we are sourcing well made, quality product and not inexpensive garments that are made in China.
We are continuing to expand these collaborations and we are working with Hertling out of Brooklyn for dress trousers and pants. In addition, we also source shirts from New England Shirt Company from Fall River, Mass. We also collaborate with LBM 1911 on made in Italy wool suiting that is unique to Haberdash. There’s more in the works, but I need to keep that quiet for now.
I spoke with your incredibly knowledge manager, Sean Moran. Sounds like you’ve got some really exciting projects in the works. The word “bespoke” and “affordable” might have been thrown around. Care to elaborate?
We are continuing to build our tailored clothing offering and it’s growing so much that in order to make room for it we are planning some changes at our two stores on State Street. We will be expanding to offer more to meet our client’s needs. Haberdash will be evolving into Haberdash Bespoke, tailored and luxury sportswear. Meanwhile, we will be opening the bottom level of Haberdash EDC so we can expand our work-wear and casual sportswear. It’s very exciting around here.
We are all inspired by the world around us. What inspires you?
I am inspired by people who pursue their passions and have the guts to go against the grain or take the road less traveled.
Aesthetically, you’ve nailed it at Haberdash. We’ve seen a resurgence of barbershops in the states. Do you see the craft of a barber and his chair becoming a part of every man’s weekly routine?
Guys definitely dig the fact that we offer shaves at EDC. It’s nice to take time out to get a close shave and shoot the breeze. I wish it could become part of every man’s weekly routine but I think we as a society are moving a bit too fast. Life was simpler back when barbershops were in their heyday.
A man walks into the store. He has no experience with men’s clothing and is in for the first time. He’s looking for a complete change in his life. Where do you start?
Our sales professionals take pride in their ability to help both fashionistas as well as men who are embracing our aesthetic for the first time. I think you start with a conversation so we can ensure that we outfit the client with options that he can get the most mileage from. Then we inform him that building a wardrobe is a process. You can’t get everything in one day. You start with the staples and build from there. Every modern guy needs the following in his wardrobe – slim fit khakis, dark/raw selvage denim, navy soft blazer, basic oxford cloth button down shirt. And a pair of good shoes. Guys, don’t neglect your feet.
What advice would you give to your sons when they turn 18 years old? Is there anything in your wardrobe that you would pass down to them?
Actually, I have 3 sons – ages 9, 7 and 4. This is a great question. I am 37 years old and when I reflect back on my life, it seems like my childhood lasted forever. But from the time I moved away to college until now seems like it has happened in an instant. Life happens fast. So, I will tell my sons when they turn 18 that they are embarking on a fantastic part of their lives. They need to take the tools that my wife and I gave them to carve out who they will become as men. Follow their passions and live life to the fullest.
I’m not sure about what clothing I would pass down. My wardrobe is made up of items that I hope will stand the test of time. I’m sure something will survive. I received a Panerai watch for my 30th birthday. I hope to pass that down to them one day. The question is: which one will get it?
*Haberdash Chicago is a menswear store located in Chicago, Illinois. If your in town, stop on through.
Trust me when I say this, you won’t be disappointed.