Est. 1941

San Francisco, CA • Unionmade

Monday, August 05, 2013

Date: 07-04-13
Location: 493 Sanchez St
Film by: Luis Valdizon
Words by: M. L. Morris

It's August 2013, and at this point, Unionmade in San Francisco is a retail staple of American menswear. But when I first visited the shop in January 2010 during my inaugural trip to the Golden Gate City, it was a brand new place that had only been open for two months. That was before GQ rated it one of the 10 Best Independent Men's Stores In America, before it more-than-doubled its size by conjoining with the space next door, before its second location opened six hours south at the Brentwood Country Market in Santa Monica, before its sister store, Mill, came into existence up the hill from the original, and before owner Todd Barket had enough influx of customers to let his team of employees do all of the floor work (I actually conducted a video interview with him on that visit that I planned to post on a very early mockup of The Cleanest Corner, but I decided not to launch the site at the time).

There's a reason Unionmade has incurred so much success in just three-and-a-half years, though. From its location inside of a beautiful pre-1906 Victorian building just blocks away from the famous Mission Dolores Park; to the racks, shelves and tables of RRL, Barbour, Gitman, Filson, Gant Rugger, Tanner Goods and countless other superb brands; to the jaw-dropping selection of Alden footwear that occupies the entire street-side wall; to the limited edition house brand collaborations with such names as Golden Bear and Harris Tweed that can be found every once in a while; to the fresh smells wafting into all corners of the retail space from the apothecary section; to the ample assortment of fine magazines, books and home goods that welcomes guests upon entering the front door; to its all-around well-curated and kempt layout; the store is nearly perfect. In fact, its only flaw isn't even a flaw—it's more of an obstacle that I, and I'm sure many other young 20-somethings who visit, hope to overcome in the next few years. That obstacle is not being able to afford much of the inventory. Although prices can get steep, Unionmade takes the admirable approach of purveying goods that will last years and decades to come, and look better over time.

I believe purchases at Unionmade should be viewed as investments rather than subtractions on a monthly bank statement, but during our recent stop in S.F. on our 21-hour road trip to Washington for the Northwest leg of the 'Young, Loved, Hated & Broke' tour, I couldn't have bought anything even if I wanted to. Do you know how packed a Ford Escape gets when it contains five grown men, their luggage, a spare tire and DJ equipment? Look out for another Unionmade post when we're riding 12-deep in a luxury bus and the last word of the tour name is 'Opulent.'

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