ELKHART — After 88 years, menswear is coming to Stephenson’s, the largest clothing boutique in downtown. The store opened its new line two weeks ago and hosted a celebration of the launch Thursday.
“We feel like there’s a demand in the market for this,” store owner Danny Reynolds said. “There’s not a lot of menswear out there, outside of the mall department stores.”
Reynolds said he began testing the market on menswear about six years ago. Just like the women’s clothing lines, Stephenson’s hand picks clothing directly from New York for the new 1931 Men’s Department.
“I try to do things that the average guy is going to want to wear,” Reynolds said of the new line he’s developed. “It’s more about what guys want to wear every day. We’ve got blazers, but they’re blazers you’re going to want to wear with your favorite pair of jeans because who really wears a suit to work anymore.”
Pete Norton frequents Stephenson’s, previously for his wife, but now also for himself.
“You buy stuff from a website sometimes, but it’s just nice to be able to try it on and look at it, because that little picture on your phone is not enough,” Norton said. “Being able to actually see how it looks and put it on. I like it a lot. Sometimes I buy stuff from websites but it’s because I don’t have any other choice.”
With men’s clothing stores few and far between, and even fewer for high-end fashions, Stephenson’s carries brands such as Liverpool Jeans, Jachs New York, Free Country and Flag & Anthem.
Still, Reynolds admits, it’s going to take time for men to start flocking to the department.
“Our market is the spouses of our customers,” he said. “What we’ve learned is we’re still selling 60 to 70 percent of our men’s wear to women, or to the wives. Guys often times don’t want to go shopping. We find that women do the shopping for the guys because they won’t like to shop, or sometimes we’ll find what we call the ‘justify purchase’ where she’ll go, ‘My husband will like that. If I get him this, he won’t notice these other items.’”
Norton commended Reynolds’ “eye,” stating that he enjoys the fashions Stephenson’s sells.
“He does stuff that’s real wearable. It’s a little different look than most other places,” Norton said. “I can actually buy something here and wear it myself.”
Reynolds added, “We try to do things our way. We want our store to look, be and feel different than anything you’re going to find in the mall.”
Stephenson’s opened in 1931 as an appointment-only dress shop. Since that time it has grown to take over three complete storefronts on Main Street and been recoined an upscale ladies fashion shop, but Reynolds is hoping to change that description.
“Sometimes we get an image,” Reynolds said, adding that people may avoid the store due to it’s higher prices. “We have a whole clearance center and there are things for $5 and $10. It’s not all expensive.”
Stephenson’s of Elkhart is located at 211 S. Main St. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday and Saturday. It is closed Sunday and open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday.
More information: 574-294-6486 or www.stephensonsofelkhart.com.
IF YOU GO
Stephenson’s of Elkhart is located at 211 S. Main St. It is open from 10 a.m. to 5:30 p.m. Monday through Wednesday and Friday and Saturday. It is closed Sunday and open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. Thursday. More information: 574-294-6486 or www.stephensonsofelkhart.com.