If you live in Calgary or are planning a trip there in the future, make sure you set aside some time to visit the guys at Brooklyn Clothing in the Kensington shopping district. Brooklyn Clothing has been in business for over 25 years, and have been huge supporters of the 'Made in Canada' menswear movement. While the store originally gained its reputation as a premium denim boutique, they have expanded their roster of products to include button-up shirts, knitwear, outerwear and shoes. Brooklyn Clothing's owner, Brad Tien, took some time to talk to us about his experience as a longstanding menswear storeowner.
Tell us a bit about the neighbourhood that Brooklyn Clothing is located in, and why you initially chose it.
Brooklyn Clothing has been located in the Kensington shopping district since 1989. The store is situated in the Kensington Pointe Building (a unique flat iron structure, much like the buildings found in NYC), which is considered a structural landmark in the city. Before moving to Calgary, I visited the area and really enjoyed the small-town, friendly vibe of the merchants and restaurateurs. Kensington is unlike many other shopping districts found in larger North American cities, because it has a European flair, and small, independent businesses flourish. Another great attribute of the neighbourhood is that it's walking-friendly, which is quite uncommon in Calgary.
What is the general attitude in Calgary towards the 'Made in Canada' movement? Have you noticed an influx in the demand for locally made goods over the past few years?
Over the years, we have made a conscientious efforts to carry and support Made in Canada and USA products. Our customers appreciate our selection of Canadian brands because they have a reputation for producing fashion-forward, quality driven products with good fits. The attitude towards 'Made in Canada' products is fantastic, and customers are willing to spend a little extra knowing that they are supporting local businesses and the Canadian economy.
Brooklyn Clothing has been in business for over 25 years. What advice can you give to first time storeowners who are looking to build a retail space that has longevity?
At times the industry has been frustrating, however, I am still as passionate about it as I was when the store first opened. One of the greatest lessons that I've learned over the years is that you have to love what you're doing to keep moving forward. I've found that it can be challenging to stay focused and true to your store's concept, especially when you're travelling around and visiting trade shows that showcase a vast array of brands that you want to explore. From this, I've learned that you can never please everyone. It's essential to engage your customers to know what they're looking for, and make sure that they are being accommodated, because at the end of the day their support means everything.
What are some of your favourite things to do in Calgary when you have time off?
I'm a huge sports fan, so cheering on The Calgary Flames and Calgary Stampeders is one of my favourite pastimes. After a game, I enjoy a pint with my friends at a local pub. Sports events aside, I enjoy motorcycle rides along the Foothills and mountains around Calgary, as well as long walks with my wife and dog at River Park.
Visit Brooklyn Clothing at 201-1211 Kensington Road, NW in Calgary