Ah, yes! Winter fashion is the best fashion, and you know it. This time of year is the best excuse you will ever find to present yourself to the world with the catwalker’s confidence and a swagger to match. Whether you simply want to update your scarf selection or go full-on Zoolander, we’ve scoured Harrogate for the best of independent men’s fashion retailers to ensure your fashion satisfaction (cue breakdance montage).
Gentlemen! This is your calling – no more curtailing your couture curiosities: this is your chance to prove your aesthetic sensibilities and sensitivity. It’s a brave new world, and while trends may come and go; style is always in – and readily available, if you look in the right places. For qualities of experience, personality and most importantly passion, this is our pick of Harrogate’s best independent men’s fashion.
Now here’s a convenience: step out of Baltzersen’s, turn right, walk on the left and cross Cambridge Road, and you’ve found Porters. Good shout, too – we strongly recommend never staying away from an independent for too long.
Odds are you own a pair or two of jeans. They’re handy; comfortable and durable, but wearing them to a restaurant can often result in cold glares from your better half. Porters is here to show you that it doesn’t have to be that way. Stay strong, and stay with us.
“Fashion is becoming smarter,” explains Andy, Porters’ proprietor. Jeans aren’t the after-office-hours cowboy’s answer to leg-wear anymore – there’s an increasing desire to work with what one has, so to speak. Casual can come as classy, and there’s no need to throw out your Levi’s for shiny slacks to make an impression. Porters offer you the opportunity to find denim that fits you, in every sense of the term.
Keeping to a smaller retail scale, Porters work hard to find new brands; avoiding a high-end reputation and any snobbery that might follow, they will order no more than perhaps half a dozen units of a new product, facilitating a customer’s personal connection with a garment and lending a sense of internalised exclusivity. The ambition has always been an accessible store that sells clean, crisp and satisfying cuts, and Andy and his team seem to have excelled on this point.
Next door is Porters’ partner G23, offering a more urban and streetwear-based selection. It was extended with Porters about 10 years ago, when the previous owners sold their business, making room for what is now Porters. In contrast to G23, Porters’ style is a little more aspirational: clean and tasteful; your denim needs and that which goes well with it. And of course we can’t help point out the range of Scandinavian brands: Porters carry Nudie Jeans as well as Rains from Denmark (but we probably have more use of their rain gear over here, if we’re being honest).
Each season Porters introduce one or two new labels. Keeping the the selection curtailed yet fresh, rotating and exclusive, Porters are here to help you with your denim needs as well as style around and above, from skinny jeans to dark, clean cuts. “We buy for our customer base,” Andy explains. They have plenty of regulars that have been shopping with them since the beginning, and that have come to know and love an independent business that provides personable service, quality product and a selection that actually induces curiosity and passion.
Some even shop exclusively with Porters – if that’s not proof of their quality in the proverbial pudding, we don’t know what is. It’s easy to see why: besides excellent service and company, we had to practically be dragged away from their Oliver Spencer collection upon visiting the shop.
We’ll be back, Porters.
Snuggly fit in on the corner of the Westminster arcade, a bearded fashion veteran sporting a charismatic moustache watches over his latest place of passion: Mr. Smithers.
Having opened up less than a month ago, it would be easy to dismiss Mr. Smithers as just another startup. Don’t be fooled: proprietor Chris has independently manouvered through the fashion industry for over 30 years, and is responsible for a range of successful retailers. However Mr. Smithers is his first men’s fashion outlet in Harrogate; looking at the range of sensibility meeting unquestionable style, we imagine the locals will be grateful.
Chris explains that his chief priority is providing brands that fit properly. As the trends continue to slim down men’s fashion, Chris focuses on providing comfort in style; clothes worn by the grown men who have better things to do than try to squeeze in to the latest slim cut, let alone deal with the discomfort that follows.
While Chris describes his targeted demographic as 30-somethings and up, there is undoubtebly a trend pulling younger clientelle through his door. The British Heritage brands he carries are particularly strong attractors. Gloverall from Northampton, Peregrine from Bristol and the Scottish knitwear, as well as Harris and Irish tweed.
Even more locally you’ll find Abraham Moon’s products from Leeds, where they’ve been producing since 1837. Their Bronte by Moon collection of Dales scarves, literally reflecting the local dales, will be in store soon. Chris gives us a preview on his iPad of what will be available, it was enough to make us swoon (which considering how much coffee we drink, is saying a lot). It should be mentioned that Abraham Moon uses their own vertical mill: one of the few remaining mills in the UK that perform all manufacturing processes on the same site.
Chris also mentions another business venture, showing us his business partner’s website Café Culture Motorcycles. They provide a range of fashion collections designed to function casually and comfortably on the seat of a motorcycle as well as at a café table. Again the devil’s in the details when providing casual comfort in style.
At the end of the day, Chris illustrates the principle of how over what – you can purchase entire wardrobes until you’re bald and broke, it won’t do you any good without the method. Size, style, cut, fit, personality – this is what makes the difference; what you do with it and how you put it together. Chris understands this; he stands ready at Mr. Smithers to show you the way.
Another convenience on a corner of Cheltenham Crescent: just behind Baltzersen’s, you can find The House providing male shopping exlusivity, as they have for the past 10 years.
While their location in Yarm sports men’s and women’s sections as well as a café, The House in Harrogate is a strictly men’s fashion business. Store manager Duncan has been keeping things running for over 7 years, explaining The House’s dedication to personal service.
“Attention to detail,” Duncan emphasises. The brands chosen carefully, combined with dedicated style guidance and sensibility are the key factors putting The House a cut above the proverbial cloth.
Picking what to sell is a matter of studying what the brands have to offer, keeping with the seasons and the weather and following cycles of trend and climate. The entire bottom floor is dedicated to Hugo Boss, with a range reaching from suits to semi-formal to casual – as well as their Green sports and outdoor line.
With three floors dedicated exlusively to men’s fashion, The House have you covered for every occasion. The main floor displays the eclectic selection on offer, and a trip upstairs will make all your dreams of dapper come true. You’d be hard-pressed to find a scene The House aren’t prepared to dress you up for.
Shopping can often seem a daunting task for men; anxieties financial and esteem-wise can be a burden. The House are here to put you at ease. Shopping should be an experience; a comfortable, educational and inspiring look into the distinction between good-looking and great.
And quality is the name of the game. Rhodes Wood has been established for 18 years, providing some of the finest and most exclusive Gentlemen’s wear you can find. It may sound like a brag, but nothing could be further from the truth. Rhodes Wood’s establishment lends nothing but an absolute honest and sincere passion for men’s fashion, the kind that comes from lifelong experience.
Jeremy, the second half of Rhodes Wood’s name and first-class gentleman greets us warmly. He explains that he’s worked in fashion retail, manufacturing and tailoring his entire life. Such a qualification, as impressive as it is, will only lend itself more weight with the passing time.
Jeremy opened Rhodes Wood with the ambition of an entirely own-branded Gentleman’s outfitter’s. With the exception of a meticulously chosen Christopher Forbes shoe selection, everything in the shop is an original Rhodes Wood garment. For this reason, there’s no need for press advertisement. The products resulting from such a genuine and honest service that stands the test of time, is all the PR Rhodes Wood needs.
You only reach this kind of status by keeping your ambitions high, your priorities straight and always, always following through. Rhodes Wood ensure that quality remains key and is never jeopardised, and the design of each individual garment receives any amount of time and attention necessary to make a suit feel like your suit.
This is what makes Rhodes Wood and their suits special: the exhaustive efforts and expertise poured into each design, ensuring that the owner not only knows, but can feel that this garment was made for him.
“We’ve been in this business for over 30 years, and we’re still learning,” Jeremy remarks. An admirably modest attitude from someone we can’t help but consider quite an authority, judging from the establishment. Getting many of their materials nationally, Rhodes Wood follows the production quality overseas. Canvas suits are made in Rome – however far, they’ll go the extra (few thousand) miles to ensure your order is of a production standard second to none.
Ready-to-wear shirts, knitwear, full bespoke open coats and canvas suits – there’s little in the way of luxury style Rhodes Wood won’t provide. “We make sure suits go out of the store looking right,” Jeremy tells us – in this way they do business right off people’s backs, as the product is the best advertisement one could ask for. Through these recommendations their reputation has spread both nationally and internationally.
“Whilst we’re not victims of fashion, we’re not closed it either,” Jeremy explains. Their ethos is that their clothing is an investment: cuts, quality, lining – components that you don’t always ‘see’, but make all the difference once the garment is on. The devil’s in the details: subtle choices only answered and executed by a lifetime of experience puts Rhodes Wood a cut above the rest. The distinction is rather not seen but felt – the finest qualities of the garments are only apparent when you put it on, giving you, the owner, the greatest sense of appreciation for that extra mile.