Melissa Austria’s multibrand boutique Gotstyle is aptly named since she is a retailer who truly “gets” how the most men shop and aim to dress–that is to look good, stylish and pulled together while staying far away from peacockery or clownish clothing trends.
From her store’s fresh product assortment that spans casual lines such as Nudie Jeans and Zanerobe to suiting and sports coat brands such as Tiger of Sweden and Ted Baker to her entertaining, educational, easy-to-comprehend YouTube tutorials and blog posts about dressing well, it’s clear that Austria knows her stuff–not to mention her customers. Indeed, her theme song could easily be the 1980s chestnut “I Know What Boys Like” by The Waitresses.
Located at 62 Bathurst Street in Toronto, the original Gotstyle store remains men’s-only (and features an onsite barber shop) while a second location, which opened in the city’s Distillery District in November 2012, also sells women’s pieces. Gotstyle also does a brisk, growing online business (and ships to the United States no problem, fyi).
Austria recently talked to us about the secret of Gotstyle’s success and what’s right and wrong with men’s fashion today. Here is our conversation with the astute Canadian store owner:
The Gotstyle Men’s store is broken up into three distinct sections: Casual, Social and Business. What prompted you to follow this unique format?
Personally I believe that guys shop by lifestyle (“What do I need to wear for the occasion I’m going to–is it casual, social or for business?”) versus the way most menswear stores are merchandised, by brand.
How do you find the brands and pieces that you stock?
Research and trade shows. And a strong viewpoint of how we want men to dress.
Do you have a typical customer? If so, who is he?
I would say we dress the everyday guy who wants to dress better to do better. He’s not obsessive with fashion (or may not even care about it) but wants to learn about style and looking better in all aspects of his life–he’s the young executive buying his first suit, the groom getting a made-to-measure tuxedo instead of renting one, the newly divorced boomer re-entering the dating world, the work-from-home tech guy who wants cooler hanging out clothes….
What are your favorite must-have pieces in the store at the moment?
The dressed up jogger pant and the jersey sport coat–pieces that give guys comfort and style in one.
In what direction would you say that men’s fashion is heading in general? Is it getting dressier or more athletic/casual?
I think it has to go dressier but with an athletic element to it for the fashion guys. We’ve allowed men to dress poorly for so long with Casual Fridays and their bad chinos and polo shirts to untucked shirts and bad jeans on date night. The younger generation of men are rebelling against how their dads dress and want to learn more about tailored clothing, wearing clothes that fit properly and getting dressed up when they go out at night.
What special services do you provide for your clients?
Our mandate to our stylists is make the guy look good, if it doesn’t look good don’t sell it to him. We’re not on commission we’re here to help. We’ll do home visits for closet cleanups, rush alterations with home drop-offs for events and courier items so it will be at your hotel if you’ve forgotten something when traveling. We also just launched a new mobile app that has a Tinderesque “swipe and like” feature (so we can determine your style profile), mobile pay, loyalty points (no card needed), and instant chat with the stores. So it’s the mix of old world service and new technology to make shopping better.
What’s your advice for guys who are still finding/discovering their own personal style?
Always start with the basics and essential items and have the sport coat be the building block in your wardrobe.
What men’s fashion item or look do you absolutely loathe?
I think there is still a large part of the male population that need to wake up when it comes to fashion and style–they haven’t updated themselves since university days and don’t understand the value of dressing better and buying clothes that fit properly. That to me is worse than “bad fashion” because at least those guys are experimenting and trying something different.
In your opinion, what is an always-appropriate timeless classic men’s fashion piece?
A black modern suit, a crisp well fitted white shirt, dark straight leg denim, a navy or blue modern fit sport coat, a black cap-toe shoe and cognac brown monk straps.