This space, which is permanent, is part of what is perhaps the third iteration of Crosby Street’s men’s wear era. (R.I.P. Carson Street Clothiers.) Fashion-minded men, the same ones who were agonizing over soft shoulders and double monks, are at their least tailored in a decade. The arrival of Drake’s is either too late, or ahead of the revival curve.
One of the other side effects of these many cycles of the New York men’s wear scene is that there are fewer secrets than ever. Where once there were only rookies, there are now veterans. Maybe that’s why, for only the third time since I began writing this column seven and a half years ago, I was made during this shopping expedition — the six degrees of the city’s men’s wear community functioning more like one or two.
I was spotted by Kevin, whose brother used to work at C’H’C’M’, a store I happily frequent. Anonymity blown, I introduced myself to his salesclerk partner, Chase. When I was in the fitting room, up from the basement came Alex, whom I’d met at the C’H’C’M’ pop-up over the winter. During that trip, I’d lingered over one of the Drake’s elephant-print handkerchiefs, and bemoaned that there wasn’t a scarf available in the same pattern.
With covert action not an option, I instead opted for an open conversation about whether a store more interested in tailoring than athleisure could thrive in this marketplace. This, while flitting in and out of the fitting room trying on pants, wavering between two colors, navy and rust, in cotton trousers that felt casual enough to wear with sneakers but rigid enough for a wedding ($325). (A week later, I returned to buy the navy.)
If the wedding weren’t in California, I easily could have assembled a worthy head-to-toe outfit here. I tried on a spectacular forest green tweed blazer ($1,425) that was 80 percent rigor, 20 percent insouciance. That same balance came in a teal tartan button-down shirt ($195) that had a sensual heft.
And the ties. Oh, the ties. Would that I had the occasion to wear more ties. When you navigate the neckwear selection at Barneys or Bergdorf, you imagine a customer who has to wear a tie, and therefore wants to wear an impressive one. Here, you cotton to the ties so quickly that you attempt to invent circumstances in which you might need them. The wool ones are burly, the knit ones cheeky, the basic foulard ones still peppier than most.
These, and the pocket squares and scarves, are Drake’s raisons d’être. The pocket squares with whimsical patterns, like hockey players ($85), and the scarves luxe and colorful, like portable tapestries. There are also artist collaborations, like the pocket square that illustrates the “enemies of the gentleman’s wardrobe”: olive oil, Texas barmaids, lilies and more ($85). As men retreat from tailoring at every turn, this sense of humor, experimentation and breeziness is almost certainly the only way to hold the fort.