Skip to main content

Onward Reserve outfits laid-back Southern gents

onward reserve
Image used with permission by copyright holder
Now boasting seven brick-and-mortar locations in Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee and Washington D.C., Onward Reserve is a retail bastion of up-to-date apparel, accessories and gifts for guys whose style can best be described as “conservative Southern.” Stocking brands from Peter Millar and Barbour to Levi’s, Shinola, Filson and Southern Proper, these upscale and welcoming lifestyle men’s stores also do a brisk business with their in-house apparel line, which is created by store founder/owner TJ Callaway. He recently spoke to The Manual about his go-to and growing retail chain, which also operates a successful online business….

Image used with permission by copyright holder

What is the history of Onward Reserve?

We opened our first store in Athens, Georgia where the University of Georgia is in 2012 right before football season. Since then we’ve opened six more. We started with ecommerce before we opened the first store and had a good print catalog and website.

What is the overall gist of the stores?

We are a lifestyle shop and cater to my lifestyle: a laid-back sort of Southern lifestyle. In the third-party brands that we carry we are trying to curate unique items that people want or don’t even know that they want and bring all those items together in a really cool atmosphere. There are bars and leather couches and flat-screen TVs in all the stores where you can just hang out. And some have pool tables. It’s really laid-back and a sort of man cave type of environment.

And you do your own collection?

We’ve got our own line of clothing and it’s a pretty conservative mix that’s updated. Fall 2016 will be our fourth season. We do standard wovens and sport shirts and that have a little bit of a tailored fit. We’re playing with performance fabrics in order to differentiate and we have some pretty great golf shirts and a pretty full line. We have sport coats coming out this fall. It has been really well received. I have a knack for retail and merchandising but I am certainly not a fashion designer. I think that’s what also makes us unique. I’m not trying to reinvent the wheel and I’m not trying to be the next hot fashion designer. We’re really just trying to put together a really organized line that outfits our customers.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

Speaking of, who are your customers?

It’s probably 50-50 male to female. We’ve got a really inviting environment that actually feels more like a boutique for females to shop for the men in their lives so it’s a little more comfortable than a dusty old men’s shop that they had to go to in the past. As far as who is wearing our product, it’s all over the board as far as age. We’ve done a good job of catering to lots of different types of people. We get everyone from high school kids to people who are my dad’s age. It’s more about whether somebody identifies with the feel of our store and brand as opposed to other brands.

What are your current bestsellers?

Our brand has been far and away our bestseller since we launched it. It has been growing tremendously every year. Accessories-wise, Shinola watches are still on the rise and Krewe sunglasses out of New Orleans have done really well. And in the fall we sell Barbour jackets and Filson luggage and that sort of thing.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

How often do you refresh the merchandise?

It’s a constant shuffle. We pride ourselves on having unique gift ideas. We sometimes refer to ourselves as that place you go to buy a gift for the guy who has everything or at thinks he has everything. We to find those cool items. For example, we’ve got a company, Tokens & Icons, that makes bottle openers out of old MLB bats, paddock at the Kentucky Derby and old Madison Square Garden seats.

Do you plan to open more stores?

We do. We’ve seen so much success with our own label our biggest focus right now is wholesale accounts so we are selling it into other specialty retail stores. We’re going to do some pop-ups this holiday and then we’ll probably open a few more stores next year.

Image used with permission by copyright holder

What is the general price range?

We are a luxury price point generally. Our sport coats are in the $595-695 range and sell Canada Goose jackets that are upwards of $1,000 and Shinola watches are $500-700. But you don’t want to go into a store and feel like you can’t afford anything so from the beginning I’ve wanted to have stuff that anybody can afford. We’ve done a T-shirt partnership with Steve Penley who is well know artist out of Atlanta who has done a ton of stuff for the Coca-Cola company. He is to Coca-Cola what Andy Warhol was to Campbell Soup. He’s known for political stuff and has painted all the presidents. We’re the exclusive licensee to put his art on apparel and gifts so we have great T-shirts from him that are in the $30 price range.

What sets Onward Reserve apart from other stores?

We are coming at it from a really authentic place. At the end of the day it’s obviously about making money but it has never been about sitting down with a spreadsheet and figuring out how to make the most money possible. It has been about figuring out how we create an authentic place and serve our customers. It’s really just me and what I would want in a store and thankfully a lot of people seem to have the same taste as I do.

Christopher Blomquist
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Christopher is a native New Yorker who lives and works (mostly) in Manhattan. A longtime fashion journalist, he served as…
Veja introduces all new V-90, a throwback Veja sneaker with a familiar aesthetic
Veja brings modern sustainability to '90s-era aesthetics, and we love it
V-90 sneakers on marble floor

In the ever-evolving landscape of men's luxury footwear, Veja has introduced their latest creation: the V-90 sneaker. This elegant amalgamation of throwback aesthetics and modern comfort is a unisex sneaker that caters to those who seek a harmonious blend of fashion, sustainability, and innovation.

Inspired by the design ethos of the '90s, the V-90 pays homage to an era marked by bold styles and expressive individuality. This throwback aesthetic, carefully interwoven with modern flair, makes the V-90 a versatile choice that seamlessly transitions from casual outings to more upscale settings.
Sourcing excellence and organic traced leather
At the heart of the V-90's allure is its commitment to ethical sourcing and the use of premium materials. Veja's approach to leather sourcing is exemplified by the inclusion of O.T. leather (Organic Traced leather) in the V-90 sneaker. Sourced exclusively from 100% certified organic farms in Uruguay, not only is it free from the harmful effects of pesticides and chemicals, but it also emerges as a testament to Veja's dedication to a greener and cleaner fashion industry.  O.T. leather goes through a mechanical beating process that makes it bendable. (The leather in the V-90 sneaker was also tanned in Brazil, and uses fewer dyes than conventional leather.)

Read more
Chelsea boots are the official men’s footwear this fall – how to style your look
Why men's Chelsea boots are having a moment in the fall
brown dress chelseas pushing pedal

In the long list of must-haves men need for their closet, one of the most important to pick up is Chelsea boots. From wearing them with suits to wearing them with jeans and flannels, these will be some of the most valuable shoes in your closet, especially in the fall. Men's Chelsea boots are versatile and necessary, and these are the ones that will work with everything you already have in your collection, simply taking the place of some of your favorite shoes and extending the life of each.

A brief history of Chelsea boots
Chelsea boots get their name from the fashionable Chelsea district of London. Chelsea was the epicenter of fashion and music during the 1960s. It was here that fashion designers resurrected a style of ankle boot first worn by Queen Victoria in the 1840s. Shoemaker Joseph Sparks Hall adapted a traditional English riding boot for everyday use by the Queen. To make them more comfortable, he lowered the shaft to ankle height, and to make them easier to get on and off, he added elastic gussets on each side. The style became popular during the late 1800s but disappeared during WWI.

Read more
The new Tudor black Pelagos FXD watch has a throwback ’60s design inspired by the U.S. Navy
This new dive watch has a retro feel
Tudor’s Black Pelagos FXD

Rolex may have spent the last century as the biggest name in the watch game, but founder Hans Wilsdorf recognized in the mid-1920s that his beloved timepieces were out of reach for the everyman. His solution was to create a new brand of affordable luxury watches, bringing the same beautiful aesthetics and Swiss construction; Tudor was born in 1946.

While Tudor watches bring with them the same quality design and reliability as their older brother, they developed their own distinct identity by capturing the attention and the loyalty of explorers and military organizations the world over. In 2012, the brand developed a line as a throwback to its diving history. Pelagos watches became one of its most popular lines. Its newest iteration, the FXD, comes with a black face and nods to the brand's naval history.

Read more