Photos: Grant Ray
“Think of Brando riding his Triumph Thunderbird down to the waterfront in a Longshoreman Cap and Yukon Wool Cape Coat,” says SMITH + BUTLER, describing the approach it’s taken to its new boutique in Brooklyn. The store, which opened on Monday, carries rugged, fashionable workwear for men and women, bike-influenced tchotskies and yes, vintage motorcycles.
SMITH + BUTLER, which is joining Tauk in Marylynn Piotrowski’s
portfolio, describes its inspirations as “45rpm records, oiled canvas,
military boots, apothecary items, the books of Hubert Selby Jr., race
flags, Danny Lyon’s biker photographs, the color red, Steve McQueen
riding his Triumph, eclectic dive bars and 1940s Indian Motorcycles.”
It’s great to see a store recognizing that motorcycles are about more
than leather jackets and novelty thong underwear. The brands that S+B
carries — A.P.C., Barbour, Belstaff, Dunderdon, Filson, Glory and
Pendleton to name a few –are refreshingly practical, stylish and affordable, as is
the store itself. The few motorcycles on display are either owned by
the store’s co-founder or a selection plucked from classifieds and now
being sold on commission.
The only thing missing from S+B is functional riding gear. None of the
jackets on display incorporates any kind of weather or impact
protection, none of the helmets are modern; indeed there’s nothing the
safety- or comfort-minded biker would want to wear. We’d love to see the
store add a selection of jackets from Lost Worlds, gloves from Spidi,
leathers from RS Taichi, helmets from Arai and armor from Dainese to
its collection or maybe work with a designer to develop a new range
that recaptures the stylish functionality of the now defunct Nick
Ashley brand. In short, products that we could wear on- as well as
Going further, we also hope that the store will develop a curated
selection of machinery that extends beyond Craigslist’s low-hanging
fruits and into hard-to-find classics and customs of the kind not
currently available anywhere in the country, much less Brooklyn. A Deus
W650 bobber, for instance, would be a good, reasonably priced start.
This eclectic taste is already reflected in the store’s decorations,
which feature black and white photos of contemporary motocross
competition alongside vintage furniture and old bike gear.
S+B’s plans extend beyond the mere retail. The shop doubles as a case
study for the company’s interior design wing, which will open upstairs
in the near future.
SMITH + BUTLER is located at 225 Smith Street, at Butler Street, in
Carroll Gardens; conveniently close to my new house. That’s good,
because I plan on shopping there.