It’s been a good season for Cleveland. The Browns have a winning record, King James has returned and one of the coolest menswear stores we’ve seen all year opened its doors in Ohio City. Walk into Xhibition, and not only will you find the best sneakers in town, but American brands like 3.1 Phillip Lim and Mark McNairy will have the rest of your wardrobe covered. To find out the inspiration behind the store, we caught up with co-owner Robert Rosenthal to learn more about Xhibition’s mission, the brands they want to work with next and what to do for a perfect Cleveland day.
What is the inspiration behind Xhibition? Were you seeing a lack of lifestyle-driven retailers in the city, or did you just want to add something new to the mix?
Xhibition was inspired by our creative team’s desire to build a store that didn’t quite exist in our marketplace. The mission was to educate and entertain our clients. We didn’t just want to sell product, we wanted to create an environment that’s conducive to experiencing, something we felt was new and unique. We wanted to offer a gallery experience, not just another clothing store.
There are so many great neighborhoods in Cleveland, including Ohio City where you’re located. Why did you choose this area in particular?
Opening up in Ohio City was an obsession. We feel it truly is the epicenter of what’s going on in Cleveland, the definition of a neighborhood – it’s where people actually live. The shopping and restaurants are all unique and independently owed by creative entrepreneurs who really want to enrich the area. We are thrilled to be a part of it.
Though Xhibition has only been open a couple months, you’ve already had exclusive collaborations with streetwear giants like Diamond Supply Co. and The Hundreds. How did these partnerships come about? What would be some dream brands to work with in the new year?
We’ve been in business for a long time and have developed some fantastic relationships with some truly great brands or “like minded” partners. When we explained our new brand concept and how we wanted to do some new in-store events, they all jumped at the opportunity. They like us and feel it’s extremely important to do more than an average store because they see the importance of creating meaningful connections with clients. We have a lot of events and collaborations coming. Needless to say, we’re very fond of people and brands like John Elliott, 3.1 Phillip Lim, Mark McNairy, Adidas, Nike, Grenson and others. Stay tuned.
Can you speak to some of the other brands you carry and why they’re a good match for your store, customers and city?
We feel all the brands we carry are the right fit. Xhibition offers a collection of curated product, but I’ll mention a few. Stussy is a true heritage streetwear brand that has evolved and really done a fantastic job reinventing their core style, much like Cleveland is reinventing the city experience. John Elliott, made in the USA, is a brand which really defines understated elegant apparel. Shinola is a watch company made in the city of Detroit – need I say more? Tackma is a brand developed by locals. And Nike – well I think their signature athlete just happened to grow up in Northeast Ohio.
Speaking of that signature athlete, Xhibition opened its doors around the same time the Cavs had their home opener. Was this planned or a happy coincidence? Do you see an overall difference in the outlook of Cleveland sports fans since Lebron’s return?
It was a planned, happy coincidence. When Xhibition was conceived, LeBron was winning championships in Miami. As construction started, rumors began to swirl there was a chance he might return. As things developed, we thought October 30th – The Cavs home opener – was the perfect date to open our doors. And it was just a fantastic day. As a lifelong Cleveland sports fan, I see a dramatic difference in the attitudes of sports fans. There is now profound hope that Cleveland will finally end the championship drought.
If you were to take us on a one day tour of Cleveland, where would we go? What are some of your favorite places and spaces in the city?
There are so many great places. We’d start with a visit to Jackflaps because it’s just the best breakfast anywhere, then head over to the Rock Hall and MOCA. For late lunch, we’d hang out and eat at Townhall in Ohio City. Next we’d go to Coventry in Cleveland Heights and play around in BIG FUN, one of the most unique retail experiences in the city. We’d head back to Ohio City and eat at Crop for a late dinner then go to wherever DJ Steph Floss was spinning. It would be a fantastic day.
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