For many, the words "Brooklyn style" call to mind the easy cliché of a hipster in a hoodie.
Nothing could be further from the dressed-up truth for Michael Kuhle and Adele Berne, the married couple who started men's clothier Epaulet New York there in 2008 with the borough's passion for old-school manufacturing, subtle updates on the traditional and a "small-batch" mentality.
Now, after expanding to Manhattan in 2010 and with a thriving online business, they've come West. With the sun streaming through the big corner windows one recent morning, the couple are holding forth at their new Montana Avenue store in Santa Monica and explaining this somewhat surprising turn of events.
"I think we've nailed down the New York vibe of dressing," starts Berne, in an understatement, since the quintessential Epaulet man has heretofore been dressed in a natty sport coat tailored for the store's label by a brand such as Southwick, a knit tie, fitted chinos and wingtip lace-ups.
"L.A. is fascinating and there's a lot of energy here and there's lot of creativity here, and it's amazing to think of how many globally popular clothing brands originate in California because they represent a lifestyle that's really attractive to a lot of people," Kuhle says. "Our idea of coming here is to take that lifestyle and see it through our lens."
To complement the New York-based designs that have already impressed their Los Angeles clientele, the couple is introducing expressly labeled Epaulet Los Angeles items that still embody Kuhle's attention to detail and Berne's love of menswear tropes, starting with a horsehide motorcycle jacket ($1,195) that's just hit the store.
The Wyatt is a throwback to "Easy Rider," Kuhle says. "Horsehide jackets usually feel like wearing a bulletproof vest. They're psychotically thick, like the original motorcycle jackets, and it was used back in the day because it was water resistant and abrasion resistant. We skive [a shaving process] the leather a lot, so it's actually going to be fairly lightweight, and because it has so much oil trapped in it, it ages like no cowhide ever would."
He's similarly enthusiastic about the newly arrived canvas worker jacket, denim shirts and Epaulet's own jean ($165), made from prized Japanese redline selvage denim and "made at the best denim house in L.A." Knit polo shirts and tees, to pair with Epaulet's vintage-style Italian leather sneaker ($275), will be in by the end of the month.
Epaulet prizes consistency of fit, so the "Wilshire jean" in a size 34 will fit the same guy who wears a 34 khaki, whether purchased at the brick-and-mortar store or ordered online. And it will be delivered washed once, negating shrinkage.
"We're always looking for the next thing," Berne says. "The exciting thing we do for our customers is bringing something they've never seen before."
Where: 1133 Montana Ave., Santa Monica
When: Open noon to 7 p.m. Wednesday-Saturday, noon to 5 p.m. Sunday. Closed Monday and Tuesday.
Contact: (424) 268-4095