If you want a slice of history in a contemporary retail setting, a renovated carriage house in Washington D.C.’s historic Georgetown is a good place to start. And the HMX Group wanted history.
The company’s new umbrella retail environment for its men’s brands, Streets, evokes the long-gone Main Street men’s shop that was once a quintessential part of Everytown USA. The vision of Joseph Abboud, HMX president and chief creative officer, was to connect classic design and modern relevance under one roof.
He wanted the design vocabulary of the store to communicate the heritage and time-honored attributes of the company’s historic brands – such as Hart Schaffner Marx, Hickey Freeman and Bobby Jones – but in a modern way. When Abboud asked architect Jeffrey Hutchison to look at the Georgetown location for the new Streets store, Hutchison gave the perfect answer: “It’s got good bones.”
That makes the 6000-square-foot space an ideal venue to present the company’s style, innovation and hand-tailored excellence. The “good bones” include the distinctive architecture and original exposed brick walls.
A dramatic double-height entry way allows natural light to pour in from the front windows. The white-painted perimeter walls provide a contemporary shell for vintage-inspired elements, while dark-wood floor lets the clean white walls stand out. The floors are original, but the creaking floorboards have been partially stripped, leaving some of the stressed-patina finish to provide a vintage throwback feel without seeming tattered and old.
Since Abboud believes effective in-store decor is a delicate balance of props and product, all decorative appointments are layered, adding to the textural palette of the store while supporting the tactile nature of the merchandise. Black and white photographs of Washington D.C.’s Union Station punctuate the wall with local flavor.
“Every design gesture has a distinct masculine feel,” says Tom Beebe, HMX Group’s vp, creative services. “This creates a look evocative of a cool guy’s library.” On the other hand, ceo Doug Williams thinks of the store as a laboratory. “This is where we can try things and prove our product strategies,” he says.
Presentation techniques consider the physical nature of the structure. Horizontal poles are neatly integrated between the vertical brick arches displaying ties, gloves, hats and scarves. “We worked with the existing quirkiness of the architecture,” says Hutchison. “We didn’t have to create architectural interest; we used existing conditions to our advantage.”
In a nod to history, the designers brought back the tried-and-true rounder, but this updated version of the capacity fixture has an oxidized, blackened-steel finish and decorative finial top.
Antlers mounted on a grand wall along the stairwell to the upper level provide a men’s-club feel. An unexpected grouping of mannequins on the staircase draws customers upstairs, where a large interior window provides a clear view into the made-to-measure area that looks like a vintage tailor shop, with bolts of fabric, an inspiration board and a simple work table made of wood and metal pipe fittings. This focal point makes the statement that this is a place for quality handcrafting.
Abboud believes color should be inviting, much like the menswear he designed for years. “We used neutral colors that are serene,” he says. “This will keep customers in the store.” Even the 40 muslin-covered mannequins are tea-stained to an exact hue complementary to the brand.
Three of those mannequins are positioned in each ground-level show window. With great theatrical lighting and little in the way of supporting props, the message is clear: Men can be handsome and beautiful.
Retailer: HMX Group LLC, New York; Joseph Abboud, cco; Tom Beebe, vp, visual merchandising
Design and Architecture: Jeffrey Hutchison and Associates, New York; Jeffrey Hutchison, architect; Ana Canton and Betse Ungemack, project designers
Fixtures: Amuneal Manufacturing Group, Philadelphia; Design Workshop, Warsaw, N.C.; Full House, Easton, Pa.; Industrial Chic, Panama City, Fla.; New England Cabinetry, Windham, Maine
Furniture: Bobo Intriguing Objects, Atlanta; Jayson Home and Garden, Chicago; Vagabond Vintage Furnishings, Atlanta
Lighting: Restoration Hardware, Corte Madera, CA
Mannequins/Forms: Bernstein Display, New York
Props and decoratives: Andrew Prokos Photography LLC, Jersey City, N.J.; Asia Minor Carpets, Manchester Center, Vt.; Big Daddy Antiques, San Francisco; Brad Jobe Bespoke Furniture, New York; Designtex, Portland, Maine; Elliot Teel Photography, Portland, Maine; Roost, Long Island City, N.Y.; Rug and Relic, Sioux Falls, S.D.; Stephen Bay Photography, San Jose, Calif.
Signage/Graphics: Triangle Sign and Service, Baltimore, Md.
Wallcoverings and Materials: Phillip Jeffries Wallcoverings, Fairfield, N.J.
General Contractor: CJS Builders, New York
Photography: Ron Blunt, Hedgesville, W.V.