On a quick and unexpectedly snowy May trip to Denver, Modern Fellows caught up with the gentlemen of Homer Reed. Longstanding independent menswear stores are an increasingly-rare breed these days, so it was nice to meet a group of professionals who were optimistic about their economic prospects and enthusiastic about their product mix.
Denver boasts a number of intriguing menswear entrepreneurs: Besides Homer Reed, see Ratio Clothing’s custom shirting, Topo Designs‘ gear, Winter Session’s bags and accessories, Andrisen Morton’s upscale menswear, and MetroBoom’s one-stop self-improvement shop; but, short on time and further slowed by the snow, I headed from my base at the Magnolia Hotel on 17th Street to see Bill Folk and his colleagues.
Across from the Brown Palace in downtown, Homer Reed is a Denver institution dating back to 1951, when Homer Edwin Reed, father of current owner Mark and stepbrother Bill, set up shop.
One of the challenges facing operations that have been around for as long as Homer Reed is how to evolve in the face of changing trends without alienating your core customers. Call it avoiding the JC Penny effect.
Homer Reed is doing an admiral job of working to strike the right balance. The store is heavy on traditional and preppy menswear staples — like Hickey suiting and Robert Talbott shirts and ties — but doesn’t feel staid.
One of the reasons is that the owners have embraced new designers that fit with their traditional or preppy aesthetic. They carry Boulder-designed Carrot & Gibbs bow ties, Bird Dog Bay neckties from Chicago entrepreneur Steve Mayer, and Cape Cod-casual wear from Bill’s Khakis and Southern Tide. As a result, Bill says he has built relationships with children of the men that his dad suited up.
Elsewhere in Denver, for dinner and a drink, check out Euclid Hall on Larimer Square near the Pepsi Center, which boasts a terrific draught list full of Colorado brews and well-executed “innovative pub food.” Their roasted cauliflower salad, spicy with a shishito pepper marmalade, is remarkably complex and one of the best dishes I have eaten in a while. I washed it down with a pint of Telluride Brewing Co. Face Down Brown and, with baseball on in the background, watched the snow fall outside.