When 200 hundred people line up on Bleecker St. at three o’clock on a Friday to gain access to a flea market, it makes you ponder a few things, a couple being: what’s inside? And is there really a recession going on?
What was inside 159 Bleecker was some rather fine American-made gents clothing, as part of the fourth Pop Up Flea which was open this past weekend. It was hosted by A Continuous Goldberg, which comprises of sartorialists Michael Williams and Randy Goldberg.
Over a couple of beers three years ago the two gents mulled over the idea of opening a store, after realizing they didn’t have the time – what with both having full time jobs – they instead decided to open one for a weekend and invite all their friends.
“A lot of these brands we are just friends with,” said Mr. Williams, founder of acontinuouslean.com, before adding, “We like what they stand for and we know the people behind them. We just wanted to share that with the people that read about them in blogs or buy their clothes in stores… you don’t know who the guys from BillyKirk are but you come here and you meet Chris and Kirk and you get to chat with them, it gives you a lot more insight into brands.”
At the Flea, each block’s clothing whether it contained plaid shirts, stonewash jeans or vintage watches seemed to exude faultless attention to detail and the individual retailers glowed as if they’d made the items themselves, which in many cases they actually had.
Randy Goldberg, co-host and editorial director of getkempt.com, gave his take on things, “As you’ve seen menswear change over the last five years there’s been an increased interest in how things are made and where they come from. All the brands that we have here really take a lot of care when they put things together so you get like minded groups of people, both venders and consumers.”
Shirt makers Gitman Bros. has had a presence at Pop Up Flea from the very start, Chris Olberding was holding things up at their block, he explained how the market represented a one-off for him “I do the sales and I do the designs, but I usually only deal with wholesale customers, so for me the most important thing about this is interacting with the end user”.
Indeed, there was certainly some sort of digital-age serendipitous quality to the whole shindig, people were shaking hands with hitherto faceless retailers and telling them how big a fan they were, up till that point the closest thing to a face they could conjure was the shopping cart icon on their computer screen.
“People rely on us now,” said Mr. Goldberg when asked about future plans, “You know, we’re always thinking of new opportunities and new cities, but the idea of just making it an event is part of the attraction for us, we have a weekend here where we know all of the venders are going to be excited to see each other and talk shop and for people to interact.”
There is a juxtaposition of iconic brands and new independents, like HODINKEE – thee online magazine for mechanical watches – positioned right next to Levi’s. HODINKEE doesn’t actually sell watches, just writes about them however, just especially for the Flea, their founder Ben Clymer called up some friends who are watch collectors and they put together a vintage-only selection. Prices started from $150 and go all the way up to $6,000. “We wrote up these detailed descriptions, so people know exactly what they are and their condition,” Mr. Clymer said, before adding, with a slight tone of shock “We’ve actually sold a good few already. We just picked the stuff that we’d wear.”
Schott, maker of the classic motorcycle jacket popularized by Marlon Brando, were there for their third year. Next year sees them celebrate their centenary and Schott’s Jennifer Goldszer told the Observer happy they are to be involved “It’s a good family of brands to be with and we want to support American made products.”
Erudite shoe crafters Rancourt and Co. were doing their very first show of their own branded shoes at the Flea. For years they’ve made shoes for renowned brand like Ralph Lauren, Red Wing and Eastland. Their own brand is gaining a lot of attention and that was evident at the market, earlier this year they launched a fully functioning e-commerce site earlier, which is going “steady” according to Kyle Rancourt, director of Sales and Marketing.
There are few markets of this size that occur in the city that solely cater to men, its seems quite shocking, but the two at the helm don’t seem overly flustered about how they curate the selection, it seems “organic” they say. “As we meet people throughout the year we ad them to the rooster on a ad hoc basis, we don’t have preconceived idea”, says Mr. Goldberg, looking at his partner and nodding Williams agrees “It’s not about really letting people capitalize on this, we like the people we like and we want to support certain brands and makers, that’s how it happens.”