Store Tour: Stel's

(Please click image to enlarge)

OMS - Who is Stel’s owned by?
Jon - Jon Callahan, Tina Burgos, Dave Nauyokas

OMS - How long has Stel’s been open?
Jon - We are in our sixth year

OMS - What is the concept behind the Store?
Jon - The concept is always kind of changing, but we initially set out to find emerging artists or designers. Designers from all over the world, designers that Boston has not seen before. Another large aspect is that all the clothing be of high quality. Along with that, the word we used when putting the store together was utilitarian. Although we use utilitarian, for some it drums up a little bit of a hard core image, but what I mean by utilitarian is something that you will have in your closet for many years and that you can always use. You may get tired of it but you can always come back to it years later. The quality is never going to go away and the style is going to stay. Most of our stuff we try not to be too fashiony and yet we don’t want it to be overly utilitarian. It has to have somewhat of an edge to it.

OMS - What labels do you stock?
Jon - Right now we carry: APC, Copano, Nom de Guerre, JW Brine, Robert Geller, V::Room, Relwen, Steven Alan, Wings and Horns, Quoddy Moccasins, Rachel Comey, Spring Courts, Grenson, Unearthen, Gitman Vintage, Yigal Azrouel. For spring we are adding Craig Robinson, he makes handmade suits, leather jackets, its amazing stuff, we are also adding Dunderdon. For women’s we carry Alexander Wang, Rachel Comey, United Bamboo, Steven Alan, Tom Scott, Society for Rational Dress, Lizzie Fortunato, Erin Wasson, Cardigan, Coven, Gary Graham, LD Tettel. For a full stock list check out shopstels.com

OMS - What do you look for when stocking?
Jon - Different things, its got to be something that is kind of striking as a whole but it also has to fit in with the store. I mean there are so many lines that I love but they just don’t fit in. Fit is the main thing, as well as quality and again something different, with an edge. I admit I like to buy lesser known designers, and it always helps if the piece is something that has not been seen here before.

OMS - What type of clientele do you appeal to?
Jon - It is very varied and that is something that we have learned to pride ourselves in and that has affected our bias. Because of where we are, because of our price point we have anywhere from the back bay wealthier client in their 40’s and 50’s all the way to students. I think that we appeal to a wide range of people and I feel that’s what separates us and again, this goes back to the concept of not being too fashiony and not being too boring. It is something that we know most people understand and will appreciate. I think that our appeal is to a wide audience; we have entire families that shop here - mom and dad who also shop for there 17 year old kids as well.

OMS - What sets Stel’s apart from other stores?
Jon - Atmosphere, when you walk in here I hope that you don’t feel intimidated. I know that our price point gets high, especially if someone gravitates towards one of the more expensive pieces immediately, but we really try to make it a comfortable atmosphere. Just having the space here where people can just sit, we could use the space for more merchandise, but we would rather have it for people who just want to hang out. If their friends or their families are shopping and they don’t want to they can just read or have a beer. Usually my dog is here; we just try to make a relaxing environment. When we were opening six years ago it was in the midst of the starbucksification of America and everything was really corporate and everything kind of looked the same. We did not put a ton of money into the build out of the store we just wanted to do it on a more personal level and find fixtures and furniture that felt really comfortable, not corporate, nothing overly fancy.

OMS - What plans do Stel’s have for the future?
Jon - We just launched the new website (shopstels.com) and we are investing a ton of time and a ton of energy into it. It’s almost like opening a new store. Besides that we’re basically staying on the same track of finding emerging designers that stay within the right price point and that fit into the store. I do think the economy is changing a lot of things, and in some ways it has been good for us. It makes you go back to basics, back to where you came from. We’re also beefing up our customer service to make an overall more enjoyable environment for the customer.

OMS - What is the current state of Boston fashion and where is it headed?
Jon - If you had asked me this question a year ago I might have answered it differently, but I have faith in Boston fashion. I think a lot of people in this city appreciate fashion. I have lived in a lot of cities and I think that people here are really better dressed than a lot of us give ourselves credit for. I mean we have people coming into the store and commenting on that as well, but I will say that Bostonians are not very daring with their clothing. I think the economy has made that even more so but I do think that they do appreciate quality and something that stands out a bit without being trendy. So I think that the current state is kind of hard to sum up, but people are being careful. At the same time there are a lot of people here that appreciate fashion and by that I mean the quality of it and artistry of it, Boston is not a trendy city but that’s ok, I mean in some ways right now its almost trendy not to be trendy.

OMS - What are some of your favorite spots around Boston?
Jon - As far as restaurants -Ten Tables in JP, Craige Street Bistro in Cambridge, Bukowski’s Tavern or The Other Side Café. Music - The new House of Blues is awesome which is a huge surprise to me, the sounds quality is amazing. Occasionally I like the Enormous Room if I have people in town I will go there. Also Brendan Behan in JP, I am definitely more of a bar person than a club person.

Stel's Boston
334 newbury street
boston, ma 02115

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