Stag: Masculinity rarified
Stag hangs its hat upon being the independent "modern day general store for everyman." It's a men's boutique wielding clothing, shoes, grooming products and an array of merchandise for those with a high-quality, studied taste. Oh, but let’s add one more adjective to that list—manly. The store’s name in and of itself is evocative of a lone, male leader unencumbered by agenda.
When you take a stroll through the store and familiarize yourself with “the Stag man,” you can’t help but visualize the archetypal alpha-males of yore—from Ernest Hemingway to Hunter S Thompson. In addition to the clothing, the one-of-a-kind artwork, books, taxidermy and industrial vintage furniture all signal towards a rarified masculinity.
We spoke with Don Weir, one-fifth of the shop's ownership, about the popular store's philosophy and the principles that guide his own personal style.
Though Stag does its best to stay away from the dirty five-letter word (t-r-e-n-d), Weir does acknowledge how the digital media landscape influences the store’s decisions: "I don't think magazines influence much at all, except that we might see a product highlighted here or there that we're interested in bringing into the shop. But these days, because of blogs like Valet, A Continuous Lean, Selectism, etc., we see almost everything before the magazines ever get to print. [Blogs] are hugely influential now and really help dictate what's popular and what might be the new 'it' thing. They sort of break it to the buyers and stores, and then we, as retailers, decide on whether or not to take it to the greater public through our brick and mortar and online outlets."
A simple formula
Stag depends upon goods crafted with a continuing sense of purpose and care: "Austin guys—for the most part—just want classic, well-made goods that won't be out of style in six months and that will last them for years and years. That's our core business. Jeans, t-shirts, classic button-ups, good shoes, a good wallet, maybe an interesting piece of art or furniture for their house. It's a pretty simple formula, but we love helping folks find something new and unique. The products we carry are classic but interesting and usually have some story behind them, and that's part of the romanticism of it all."
The Austin aesthetic
Austin is often criticized for it’s constantly-casual dress, but Weir finds its strength: "We definitely have our own style in Austin, and I think it's a result of our Texas-, work-, cowboy roots-, music- and entertainment-based culture; the climate, and the lack of a Wall Street or real financial-based community. There aren't a lot of suits in Austin. We dress really comfortably and casually and that can translate in a kind of funny way in other cities. I mean, I've worn pretty much nothing but western and work shirts for the last 10 years or so, and sometimes when I'm in New York or Los Angeles, you can feel the eyes looking at you like, 'What's the deal man? This is the city.' But it’s fun to take Austin's style to other places. I think Portland is probably our closest sibling in terms of style. It's obviously a lot colder and wetter there, but the basics are really similar. Comfort and casual lead the way for both towns."
For men and by men... only?
Stag serves a clientele inclusive of the ladies: "We've got plenty of stuff for women. Our clothing is mostly male-specific, but we've got sunglasses, coffee table books, furniture, wall art, necklaces, scarves and all sorts of other stuff that works for women as well as men. It's nice to offer women a different perspective on home design, art, and accessories than they might normally see in more female-centric stores."
So, what sends these guys to the moon: "My favorite designer—I never thought I'd utter those words—is, and forever will be, RRL. There's more care and detail and obsessive attention to history in that line than anything out there today. And we're one of only a handful of boutiques in the world to carry the line, so we're pretty proud to have it. Really proud, I should say."
Stag is wise enough not to stock hundreds of sweaters in August, like many misguided stores. But Weir does have some foresight into what you can expect when the triple-digit temperature finally does break: "You'll see a lot of grays and browns this Fall—muted, sophisticated colors that will be pervasive throughout menswear. Brighter colors will show up around the Holidays, and then next Spring will be really bright. But Fall's gonna be a bit toned down; great looking and classic, without a ton of color. We do have some great corduroy down vests, quilted jackets and wool suiting that will add some texture to the mix, and that's important in creating some dimensionality. Flat gets boring real fast."