Stripe Design Group rolls out Stripe Men. New men’s boutique embraces the masculine mystique
Consider this familiar scene: You’re shopping in a clothing boutique and you see a couple. Oftentimes, the woman is smiling, looking intently at the clothing, pulling hangers off the rack for closer inspection. “This is cute honey! What do you think?” she says to her companion. “Nice, babe,” the significant other might say, looking as though he would rather be getting a back wax than shop for even another minute. This all-too-familiar scene, though supremely common, may become a thing of the past in Santa Cruz.
Look out fellas—Stripe Men is imminent.
The wildly popular Stripe boutique, which opened in 2008, carries the chicest of chic women’s clothing, accessories, shoes and small home décor items, with only a limited selection of men’s clothing available. But with Stripe now entering its fourth year in business, co-owners Suna Lock and Dana Norrell decided it was time to give the men in Santa Cruz a shopping environment of their own.
“By the middle of last year we realized that it was the quickest growing sector of our business,” explains Lock, noting that local men had begun to realize that Stripe was one of the only stores in the area to carry on-trend men’s clothing at reasonable prices. She says that Stripe was feeling compromised by the overwhelming presence of men’s stuff and she and Norrell “got really excited one day talking about isolating it and having a men’s store on its own.”
The duo knew that they wanted the men’s store to be very close to the original Stripe, so when they found out the watch repair store located only two doors down on Walnut Avenue was moving, Lock and Norrell felt it was pure serendipity. Thus, Stripe Men was born.
Atmosphere is an important aspect to the owners of Stripe. Their downtown flagship store is always awash with feminine whimsy and clever design, and this dedication to a quirky, ambient environment will be intrinsic to the men’s store as well. “The men’s store will be really a unique environment, like Stripe is for women,” Lock shares. As far as the interior design, shoppers will have to see for themselves,
but Lock reveals that the look will be a bit more dark and masculine.
”Kind of taxidermy meets science,” she says wryly. “In the way it looks it will be experimentally masculine.”
The thing Santa Cruzans seem to love most about Stripe is the store’s commitment to sourcing local and environmentally conscious products whenever possible to stock the racks, and this conscientious philosophy will be carried over to the men’s store as well.
“Our vision for Stripe Men has the same ethos as the Stripe brand,” Lock says. “We source items that are locally made and homegrown. We sell made in the U.S. and made in California-based products as much as possible.”
Another part of the Stripe philosophy is to get talented local designers off the ground through the store as much as possible, as they did for Santa Cruz-based leather accessories designer Nuala, whose products are a smash hit at Stripe, and will soon be sold at Stripe Men. Expect a smattering of other unique items to be sold in the new boutique: T-shirt brands called Thieves and Pik Pocket, Tellason Denim from Mill Valley which are hand-stitched raw denim, and CjjQ ties from San Jose.
Many items are locally sourced and handmade—denim ranges from $100 to $250; button-down shirts cost between $45 and $90.
“We’re well known for having a very reasonable price point,” Lock says. “Actually our garments are about 20 percent cheaper than Urban Outfitters. When we’re buying, we’re really conscious of price. We want everybody to be able to walk into the store and afford something.”
In addition to clothing, Stripe Men will offer a range of accessories, such as ties, tie clips, cuff links and toiletries. Lock reveals that among the most popular men’s item at the current Stripe store are the mustachio razors, thus Stripe Men will be outfitted with a whole line of men’s toiletries and shaving kits to keep guys looking dapper.
With the opening of Stripe Men, Lock hopes that men will no longer feel like outsiders in the shopping experience. “We want people to feel at home … feel they can spend an hour looking around the store. We have seating, magazines … we’ve really created an environment that Santa Cruz guys can feel at home in.”
Stripe Men’s grand opening celebration will be held from 6 to 8 p.m. on Friday, March 30 at 117 Walnut Ave., Santa Cruz. It is by invitation only. For more information, or to request an invitation, visit stripedesigngroup.com.