Shop Class – Wittmore

Paul C. Witt opened his multibrand men’s boutique Wittmore on West Third Street in Los Angeles two years ago after starting the company as an online venture. Last month he added a second branch in a new complex in the burgeoning Arts District in Downtown Los Angeles. Both locations carry an assortment of clothing, accessories, grooming supplies and gift items. Here, he discusses the differences between the two shops and their chill approach to selling men’s fashion.

Is the selection different from the first store?

The current selection right now has brands that overlap but coming into this fall there will definitely be some brands that we brought on that will be specifically for downtown. We are launching the John Moore/Kelly Slater new line called Outerknown this fall and we are also launching Helmut Lang downtown.

Is the customer base different in the two locations?

I think that the mindset of the customer is a little different downtown. What you are seeing in LA is that you are taking the local as well as the tourist who likes to travel around. So the downtown customer is a little more curious and a little more interested in what we’re carrying.

What are your current bestsellers?

One of the top sellers is Levi’s Vintage Clothing, which is one of our strong partners. We have a gallery exhibit in there right now in a partnership with them. We have also done really well with Reigning Champ from Vancouver and a new brand called Max ’N. Chester. Those are probably our top breakout hits. We also have Officine Generale downtown and Universal Works and Oliver Spencer.

What is your buying philosophy?

Our goal is to make our vibe very approachable in the sense of presenting a highly edited selection of our favorite brands. Whether guys know the brands or not they are interested in what our offer is. So it is definitely a little more laid-back approach. Even though personally I follow fashion and have been into fashion for a long time, the key word is to be approachable. We don’t want to turn off anybody.

What do you think guys are looking for these days when it comes to fashion?

The vibe out here is very laid-back so we try to merge a combination of modern in the sense of modern design and what’s happening right now with laid-back fitted classics and then layering it with a little bit of street, surf and skate. It’s kind of taking all those genres and presenting them in a cohesive way.

Is there a hot style in Los Angeles at the moment?

There are modern guys who wear all black and a kind of ‘90s minimalism rehash that hit a different generation that didn’t know it then. You definitely have that but it is definitely more laid-back than New York. Guys will invest in a quality sweatshirt or a really great sweatpant or hoodie out here over anything else because they will wear that all the time.

What is your style advice to your customers?

We try to be as honest as possible to all our customers. I always say that trying stuff on is free so it’s worth it to try something one and see what you look like in it. And if you are not comfortable in it you shouldn’t be buying it. We definitely take a chill sort of approach.