NOTES FROM THE SF UNDERGROUND | MAN UP, AND THE NEW MAIN STREET

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From the desk of Contributing Editor, Eli M. Getson–

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In the last few years we have been inundated by Washington and the media with news about the decline of “Main Street”.  I have to admit I have never been to this mythical place.  By the time I entered my consuming years, Main Street had long been shut down and all commerce was conducted at the rather impersonal confines of the local mall.  I imagine this mythical Main Street was a place with unique shops and businesses, where you not only went to buy a few things but catch up on local events, meet friends, and could even say hello to a proprietor by name (bit different then trying to get Hunter or Missy to help you at Abercrombie).  The customer mattered on Main Street; things were a little slower and had a lot more soul.  It was the opposite of the poor service, disposable products, and hassle that defines today’s buying experience.  I mean, I’m not for reckless consumerism, far from it– but shouldn’t buying something special for yourself be fun and painless?

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Worst Main Street, May 1951 –photo by Francis Miller

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The best way I can describe the Man Up pop up market that happened this past weekend is this– it’s part 1950’s trade association, part block party, part Hippie co-op (it is San Francisco after all), part European open-air market, and all punk rock garage band.  Having been in the menswear industry for the last twenty years, I’ll admit– I’ve become a bit jaded.  I thought what I would find were a bunch of hipsters, and I hate hipsters.  What I found were serious business owners– whose passion for their product was infectious, and who are strongly dedicated to producing well-made products that last, and make ‘em right here in the USA.   I found a new business model that cuts-out the middle man and creates a deep loyalty between the consumer, brand, and owner/operator.  I found business people who were generous, passionate, knowledgeable, and friendly.    I think I found Main Street in the age of social media.

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The market was organized by an outfit that calls themselves the Durable Goods Concern– five guys who are out there with one mission: convert men to appreciate the old school style of yesteryear.  I asked one of them what his goal was with Man Up, “Destroy Fashion” was his reply.   The Durable Goods Concern cannot be troubled with something as trivial as “fashion”, the mission is bigger; promote small businesses that make and sell quality products and offer art, culture, and some unique color to the local community.  Give these businesses a forum to meet and interact with their customers and have a little fun in the process.  The guys are a bearded, inked, and well-dressed chamber of commerce.  The business owners from AB Fits, Union Made, Chronicle Books, Pierrepont Hick, Paul’s Hat Works, Taylor Stitch, and Sui Generis (to name a few) are the modern version of the butcher, grocer, pharmacist, and candy shop owner who populated the mythic Main Street of old.  Proud business owners and artisans who are creative, smart, hard working, and stand for MADE IN AMERICA.

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Tables by J. Rusten Furniture

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Paul’s Hat Works Booth

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sui GENERIS

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Man Up pop up market, San Francisco

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Todd Barket of Unionmade

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18 thoughts on “NOTES FROM THE SF UNDERGROUND | MAN UP, AND THE NEW MAIN STREET

  1. This is amazing and an example that people want to have real, and authentic relationships with the entities that sell goods, just like in any village marketplace. I used to be a part of a collective of clothing designers with the same intention back in the 90’s called the Taber Alley Market in the SOMA area. Not wildly successful (although I would have imagined more so had fb/twitter been on the scene), but enormously gratifying for me as a seamstress to cultivate customers by getting to know them, and producing goods that mattered because of a genuine connection I had with them.

  2. So happy to see this event acknowledged. Had the opportunity to visit the venue myself–and make a purchase.

    Indeed, it was an three-dimensional, socially and artistically gratifying experience.

    The products fell in line with classic American design. Simultaneously gruff and refined. And with all the speed and mobility that defines 2010. Great connection, great work.

  3. Eli,

    Thanks for coming out and giving your honest to god take on what happened. One of the many things I appreciate about TSY. A no bull approach to journalism. Nothing sugar coated, no need for cover ups.

    Consumers are finally coming back around to taking responsibility for what they purchase and want to know where it comes from. It is a nice thing to see. Business owners can be proud to put their stamp of approval on something that has a story behind it. It’s a good feeling to have…

    mm

  4. It is my sincere and genuine hope that this will take hold.
    I need clothing that will FIT and will LAST. And I wish I could converse with a supplier to discuss my needs. In addition I have a lot ideas that I know would improve the garments that I wear. I would be more than happy to share these ideas with a tailor or provider. Clothing is not my field or trade, but I know what I want and need. Wish I could interact locally with an invidual or a “small shop on Mainstreet”.

  5. sounds great. But do you have any details? where, when, etc? There are plenty of folks who never ever go to shopping malls, and would love to attend the event if it is publicized in advance…

    • I would follow the DGC on Twitter or Facebook. Like I said Main Street for the social media age. The DGC hits hard and fades back into the night.

  6. very well said. transcended the idea that its just a piece about a pop up shop; some great words and concepts in here.

    on a selfish note, bring this to LA…

    cheers

  7. Those hipsters really fooled you. This is just an extension of the hipster culture. Hipsters were eventually going to own businesses. With that said, I do like the idea of ‘Made in America’ making a comeback. And I really like TSY.

  8. Brandon,

    With all due respect, four of the planners — including myself — have business degrees, and the other is a graphic designer. Hipsters, we are not.

    Eli – great post. You really nailed what we were trying to do. It was awesome getting to meet everyone that came through, including yourself, and have some genuine conversations.

    Thanks,
    Dave

    • Woof! Thanks to all the guys at DGC and Eli for the post. Hipsters, flipsters, finger-poppin daddies – it really doesn’t matter – if you don’t get it – you probably don’t want to understand. ManUP presented goods that are honest; made with integrity and passion for craftsmanship. Instead of selling costumey junk to suckers, this event promoted value goods that last and only get better with time. And we had fun.

  9. This is excellent and inspiring to see, but sadly, this place should take up 3 city blocks. Its so sad to see that so little is being made in the USA anymore, but this brings alot of hope to the table. I myself collect 50s clothing which of course was made in the USA. Its very satisfying to have a shirt with a union label or a ‘made and styled in california’ tag on the collar. It makes me very proud of my country.

  10. Thanks for the post Eli, and for “hitting the nail on the head”! I attended the show, and was inspired not only as a veteran designer, but, as well, as a consumer looking for a fresh take on the market! Congratulations to all of the vendors who stepped up to begin to revolutionize a marketplace that has become too old-schooled and redundant.
    You have my full support, and I would much rather attend a ManUp show than MAGIC on any given day!
    Kudos!

  11. Pingback: Taylor Stitch - Exclusive Interview Part I | Crockstar Blog - Fashion Trends, Marketing and all things Internets collide

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