Inside Clutch Cafe: Globally-Sourced Clothing, Locally-Roasted Coffee
Since opening its doors in February of this year, Clutch Cafe has been serving up artisanal coffee, premium menswear, and a completely unique retail experience that honors the reputation of the esteemed CLUTCH Magazine.
Situated in the London’s diverse Fitzrovia district, Clutch Cafe is a hop, skip, and a jump away from the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street. Upon stepping into the store, one is presented with a distinctive retail space of rugged brickwork and vintage furniture that complements the seasonal displays of products from brands such as Warehouse, Stevenson Overall Co., Pherrow’s, Fullcount, and the like. To the untrained eye, Clutch Cafe could be mistaken for a vintage exhibition, but the friendly staff, playful displays, and the offering of a fresh cup of coffee provides visitors with a warm welcome.
I met with the store manager, Ben, who showed me around the store and talked me through some of the brands on offer. Most of the stock holding is made up of Japanese brands, however, there are a few western brands in the mix including White’s Boots, Sanders, and Schott NYC. Ben described how a welcoming environment is something he strives for at Clutch Cafe, and how important it is that customers are able to relax and enjoy their visit to the store, whether it be to ball out on a $2000 jacket or simply try on and appreciate a few pieces. It was evident throughout my visit that this ethos attracts a diverse population of customers, many of which come in for a coffee and leave with their new favorite sweatshirt.
Something that makes Clutch Cafe so unique is the variety of styles that the store can cater to. There’s an intoxicating blend of all-things-Americana that inspires you to try on pieces you wouldn’t naturally gravitate towards. In addition to the collections of raw denim, military-inspired garb, and leather goods, there’s brightly colored down vests from Kluane Mountaneering, Vibrant flannel shirts from Calee Inc., and truly unique pieces like Brace Coat by Jelado, a jacquard woven coat in a standout forest green that sticks out like a sore thumb but in the most appropriate way possible.
With the reputable Clutch Magazine at the center of its conception, Clutch Café offers a range of publications tendered by EI publishing, including Lightning, 2nd Magazine, and Lightning Archives. Many of these publications have become contemporary cornerstones of vintage appreciation in Japan and the West alike. With this in mind, Clutch Café actually stocks authentic vintage pieces such as varsity and baseball jackets and vintage denim, meaning there are new gems to be discovered with each visit.
White’s Semi-Dress Boot in Brown Chromexcel, £589 (~$750).
With a rich legacy of crafting exceptional American-made boots, White’s Boots adds to Clutch Cafe’s footwear selection that already includes hard-to-beat shoes from Clinch and Buzz Rickson’s. As well as being meticulously crafted, White’s Boots offers comfort straight out the box with their Arch-Ease™ technology that allows the foot to relax downward into the footbed in its natural resting position. Clutch Cafe also plans to bring in a made-to-measure service that will allow customers to tailor their White’s Boots for the perfect fit.
Sturdy Leather Car Coat in Black, £1999 (~$2500).
Sturdy is a Japanese leather goods brand that draws influence from American outdoor culture. Clutch Cafe stocks a variety of products from this artisanal label, ranging from leather pen and card cases to robust bags that blend heavyweight canvas with rugged leathers and vintage detailing. A standout product from Sturdy is the Leather Car Coat, a blanket-lined leather coat constructed from a vegetable tanned cowhide that has been washed to achieve a soft, crinkled texture that will age beautifully.
Fine Creek Leather Norfolk Suede Suka Jackets, £1999 (~$2500).
Fine Creek was established in 2017 by Yoshikatsu Yamazaki. Based in Tokyo, Fine Creek specializing in crafting end-level leather jackets using the finest Japanese horsehide. An immediately eye-catching offering from Fine Creek at Clutch Café is The Norfolk Suede Suka Jacket. Coming in rich indigo and burgundy colorways, this jacket is constructed from lustrous horsehide suede with distinctive ‘Kiryu yokoburi’ souvenir embroidery, a traditional technique of Kiryu City, Gunma Prefecture.
Calee Flannel Shirts, £215 (~$270).
Roughly translating to ‘street’ in Spanish, Calee Inc. is a Japanese label that draws inspiration from classic West Coast Californian style. Started in 2004, Calee adopts a playful approach to its designs while still employing high-quality construction methods that make for solid garments. New to Clutch Cafe, the vibrant colors of this year’s Calee collection bring a splash of California
Coffee at Clutch Cafe
Utilizing local supplier Dark Arts Coffee, Clutch Café has a wealth of coffee-lovers in regular attendance. Dark Arts roasts their coffee in the East London district of Hackney, using beans imported from across the globe allowing Clutch Café access to a range of coffees with different tasting notes and textures. As passionate about coffee as they are about jeans, Clutch Café even has a Japanese Oji slow-drip tower that can take up to 16 hours to slowly drip cold brew coffee through its chambers. Coffee brewed in this way is more aromatic, bright and delicate than an espresso-based coffee.
You might be looking to sip on a hot Americano or slip into some high-quality Americana goods, and Clutch Cafe can provide both of those equally well. In this current retail market, when stores are struggling to keep up and offer not only a unique selection but a unique experience as well, Clutch is succeeding in both and is proving itself to be a must-see when visiting London.