One of the most loathsome people I ever met and worked with gave me the sagest advice and that was … assumption is the mother of all f—k ups and the same goes for preconceived notions! Sometimes we are guilty of judging a book by its cover, personality profiling or making movies in our heads and sometimes we just have no clue or opinion about someone we are about to meet head on.
This writer had the most extraordinary pleasure of meeting a gentleman by the name of Jay Kos who happens to own a 21st century haberdasher in NYC. It is located on Mott Street in Nolita via Lexington Avenue and Park Avenue. Mr. Kos, upon meeting, may appear to be some wannabe rocker or urbane urban cowboy when in fact he is a totally evolved, charming, well-spoken and engaging gentleman with deep roots in the arts of style and fashion. To me, he has created an image of himself that is distinctly his own and reflects only a part of what he stands for in terms of menswear.
During the course of our conversation, I was engrossed listening to his ideas of who he is and what he does in terms of his shop within the confines of the fashion continuum. Mr. Kos is an old soul in a sort of 21st century drag, so to speak, and there is nothing derogatory about that as in fact I salute it! He is in some ways his own best advertisement and then you might say … well he really doesn’t look anything like his jewel box of a shop. And that my friends, is the charisma and allure of the Jay Kos experience ... on personal and retail planes.
What one soon learns is that the philosophy or impetus of Jay Kos, both the store and person, focuses on just of the few tenets that rule the upper echelons of any fashion retail business. He is a devotee of the highest of quality in manufacture, of the finest and sometimes most unusual fabrications and not conforming to any preconceived prescribed ideas about retailing of menswear... there’s that phrase again! Another of his most noticeable traits is his love of color and it is there that he manages to accomplish and adhere to his esthetic in spades. Much of what is available instore might be explained as “tweaked classics” which would account for his “hedgie” clientele. Then of course, there is his more flamboyant or pronounced side which might account for his cache of sports stars that frequent the store. There is a great element of surprise within these walls and that is surely something missing from his uptown relatives.
To say that Kos has eschewed the normcore is not totally true. It was not hard for me to imagine a fashion inclined customer shopping there and by that I mean, a self-assured and confident man who wants to have an edge and not look like he fell out of some cookie cutter designer emporium wearing some highly editorialized fashion statement. No question that you cannot be a wallflower but then again you don’t have to be a “total look at me” fashion victim either. The store, as its owner, is filled with contradictions on first glance and then after chatting with Jay, it all makes perfect sense. The clothes have no age, and for the more seasoned of fashion consumers, they will find there is plenty to lust for here. It must be taken into account that this kind of individuality does come at a price, whether off the rack or bespoke but yet when compared to his competition he is right in line. Again the difference is simply this … do you want to stand out and be an individual or do you want to blend in as one of the crowd?
When asked about the future of Jay Kos, the store, Jay was quick to say he is thinking of expanding to the left –coast and to Paris. Again it was not difficult for me to imagine his success in either or both of these locations. He is a man on the move as he is the proprietor, buyer, merchandiser, designer and curator of this one man show! To say, that in many respects, he and I are of like minds is an understatement and yes of course that pleases me, as we all know I am not short on opinions or pronouncements. This is a story that will evolve as time goes by...
I hope the slides offer just a tease of what you find in the world of Jay Kos and I thank him for his warmth, insights and honesty!