Shop Class: Context in Madison, Wisconsin
One thing we pride ourselves on at this site is our constant search for all of the good and great around the country, not just in the big cities of NYC and LA. One store that blew our minds is Context based in Madison, Wisconsin.
Founded in 2005 by two friends, Ryan Huber and Sam Parker, who have a mutual love of heavy metal and good looking American made clothes, the store started out focusing on denim. As Ryan explained, “We are right in the middle of the country and there haven’t been any stores around us specializing in hard to find raw denim. We knew there was a customer for it here because if you live in his area you will drive to find something you want.”Wisely, they decided to open online in 2007 when the menswear online world was just getting going.
Through the years, Context has evolved into a full men’s lifestyle shop and is getting noticed around the globe for creating and stocking goods produced in historic American manufacturing plants. They have had a loyal following of guys from 28-35 as well as some 50+. “One client is 71 and a great customer,”Huber told us. But it isn’t just the older clients who are spending, “What blows our minds is how many guys call up and tell us what size Chuck Taylor they wear so we can relate it to a pair of Alden’s. That is a big step up from a $30 pair of sneakers.”
One of their specialties is leather products. They are all hand made by artisans in the First Settlement District of Madison, Wisconsin using leather from some of the world’s oldest tanneries. There is a core collection of wallets, belts, card cases and briefcases as well as special items such as the shell cordovan wallet. If you didn’t know, cordovan is horse hide and there has been a serious shortage recently (since fewer and fewer people are eating horse meat!). Regardless, this biker wallet will last a lifetime and look better and better with age.
A collab that is sending sparks through the menswear market is the new CXL 113 jacket which Context created with Schott and Horween Tannery. It’s an ode to the 1928 Perfecto jacket designed by Irving Schott. The natural Chromexel horsehide is hand made at Schott in Union, New Jersey and will last for eons.
Look out for some new projects with Alden rolling out later this year.
If you aren’t near Madison, peruse the newly launched website that is easy to use and has great interface on all platforms. The boys pride themselves on excellent photography and offering as much information on each product as possible.
Carrying lines such as Faherty, Gitman Vintage, Shinola, Strong Suit and Barton Perreira, Context is giving Cheese heads a serious makeover.