Thursday, January 6, 2011

the trifecta.

Houston, Hamilton 1883, and MORTAR...let's talk shop!

There are many outstanding things about Houston, Texas menswear store Mortar—the fact that it offers complimentary in-house alterations, for instance, or the fact that one of its owners is present in the shop at all times. But perhaps the most incredible relates to its architecture. “Our main wall is shikkui plaster,” co-owner Sacha Nelson reveals. “It’s a Japanese technique they use to build temples. It’s made of seaweed and lime and is basically an ongoing chemical reaction. It cleans the air as it becomes stone.”

Impressive. But, then again, being impressive is something Mortar’s known for and, like its wall, it’s something of a breath of fresh air. Founded by the aforementioned Nelson and Iris Trent Siff, Mortar is one of the only contemporary menswear stores in Houston’s business attire-centric scene. It’s also one of the few places in the country that focuses almost exclusively on hard-to-find, American micro-brands—a move that Nelson insists is less about novelty than it is about quality. “We only showcase lines that we believe are exceptional,” he says. “For us, it’s all about craftsmanship and how things are made. We’re really wonky about quality and structural innovation.”

Nelson and Siff can also get wonky about relevance, both Houston-based and otherwise. The shirts and pants they stock tend to be constructed of lighter weight materials (necessarily, due to the Texan heat), and all of them maintain a timeless appeal. “It’ not about getting the new thing,” says Nelson. “It’s about finding the lines that will be stylish now and the next season and the one after that. We want pieces that will move with you.”

One line that garnered Nelson and Siff’s approval was Hamilton 1883—an obvious choice, perhaps, since we share the same city and obsession with quality. “When we opened, we were really aware of Hamilton and its legacy here, its commitment to craftsmanship and domestic manufacturing,” Nelson says. “It was on our ‘strategic objectives’ list.”

Happily, the pairing was arranged and it’s become something of a match made in heaven. Nelson admits that he’s “literally obsessed” with the line and is pleased to report he’s not the only one.“It’s been one of our absolute best sellers,” he boasts.

[Source] Sartorially Inclined

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