Amazing things are happening at 9th and Broadway in Downtown Los Angeles, and at the top of the list is the opening of the Tanner Goods store. Only their second retail space outside of their hometown of Portland, Oregon, the store not only showcases the brand’s handmade leather goods but also houses a number of other respected and likeminded brands.
About Tanner Goods
Anyone who’s into heritage menswear is well aware of the made-in-the-USA wave moving through the apparel industry in the past couple years. Tanner Goods was at the forefront of this movement. In fact, they preceded it. The brand was founded in 2006, when there wasn’t nearly as large a market for durable, handmade American goods, so they’re not just riding the trend and the hype of “heritage” as a buzzword.
Following the recession, they saw a rising demand for their goods, and a heightened respect for their approach, which is, in their own words: “an ‘Under One Roof’ philosophy, bringing together a group of designers and craftspeople, as well as skilled laborers. Combining a design-minded approach with a deep commitment to crafting items by hand, Tanner Goods seeks to create modern products that respect the past.”
They produce everything from wallets to belts to camera straps to dog collars in a variety of colors.
If you’ve laid eyes on a pair of 3sixteens or Tellasons, then you’ve seen the brand’s handiwork–they make all of the patches for both brands. The link between handmade leather goods and raw denim is palpable: just like denim, high-quality leather develops a character as it ages, a patina dependent upon the habits of its owner.
For those unfamiliar with the area, the Art Deco fortress that is 9th and Broadway in Downtown LA is historic for a number of reasons. Despite the gorgeous buildings, time had taken its toll on the area as Downtown LA had become nearly a ghost town in the late 90s through the 2000s. But recently, thanks to the Ace Hotel and interest from a number of well-known retailers, the neighborhood is in a renaissance of new opportunities.
Tanner’s creative director Sam Huff said of the location choice,
“We considered a number of locations on the West Coast for this project, and what ultimately sold us on Downtown L.A. was the rich manufacturing history of the district. The opportunity to help elevate a neighborhood that has seen its share of neglect, and to be part of its next wave, was too exciting for us to pass up. Add in the area’s tradition of music—a craft of its own sort—and we were sold.”
I was lucky enough to make it up to the grand opening of the store on March 29th. Many people from the Portland crew made the trek down to celebrate. Monkish Brewing was on-hand to provide complementary refreshments, and there was also the option of buying a bottle of Pabst Blue Ribbon from their old-school beverage dispenser.
One of the most striking aspects upon entering is the store itself: beautiful in its design and aesthetic, which, according to Tanner, reflects its surroundings in its inclusion of elements of Art Deco architecture, mid-century modernity, Southern California sunshine, and—my personal favorite as far as design goes—music.
They’ve got a beautiful hollow-bodied Gibson Epiphone on display as well as a renovated Grand Prix II jukebox to play shoppers’ requests, with a monthly rotating selection ranging from staff members’ favorites to guest curators’ selections.
I didn’t make it five steps into the store before I was welcomed by multiple members of the Tanner Goods team. What struck me most, initially and throughout my visit, is that the members of the team weren’t simply looking to make a sale; each person I spoke to was genuinely interested in helping me to understand their process and products.
Tanner Goods prominently displays their wide selection of handmade leather products but they’ve also made room for clothing, accessories, and hard goods from a number of brands, many of whom have collaborated with Tanner Goods in the past, including Danner Boots, Gitman Brothers Vintage, and Snow Peak.
The Woodlands, their sister brand, offers up a selection of made-in-the-US knitwear and they also carry shirts, pants, and outerwear from Norse Projects, and Reigning Champ.
Of course you’re wondering about denim. The store offers up a solid selection of raws with multiple fits from 3Sixteen, Tellason, and Rogue Territory. The two latter brands have collections specifically for The Woodlands, and the store has multiple fits with custom Tanner Goods patches.
Perhaps my favorite aspect of the store was the belt buying process. The store offers a number of belts in a slew of colors, and the customer is able to customize the various hardware and watch them make the belt right then and there. This is a great way of ensuring a product totally unique to the preferences of the consumer and make it truly one-of-a-kind.
I had a great experience browsing through store and hanging out while the team from Tanner Goods mingled with customers. It’s clear from my discussions with various members of their crew that they are all dedicated not only to the products they offer but also to the ethos of the company, which is founded on building solid relationships with others while also building products that transcend the realm of ephemeral fashion.
They want what they make to last longer than a generation. And if they keep up their current business practices, I suspect that they will too.