08 March 2013
Shoot an Azimuth for Jay Kos
Alice Olive (click image to enlarge)
NYC is full of menswear designers cranking out safe affordable duds and selling them profitably. Jay Kos, on so many levels, would not be that designer. Despite the common, "He dresses funny - he must be creative," observation, Kos owns an uncommonly cool shop that hits idiosyncratic right outta the bull fighting ring.
Pushing the envelope with humor, color, knowledge and worldliness...Jay's taste reminds me of the Bohemian girl in college who introduced me to obscure Samba, mole sauce and Bolivian marching powder, all in one night. She wore a rusted chastity belt of Socialist feminism but I was crazy about her -- She heard my knocking -- No way was I getting in. Just as well. She smoked pot with her parents.
Jay will let me in but my budget won't let me do a whole lot. There's a $10,000 cashmere Covert coat I've been lusting after but that's NYC fur sink money. Kos is Hermès expensive but unlike Hermès, there's some decent value here. As in all things Kos, there's little of what you see. Consequently, you won't see your modern duffle coat with throat latch coming at you on every street in Soho.
I don't own much Kos. The Otter sweater, a pair of black leather gloves and one tie. But they are the best gloves I've ever owned (infantry blue lining) and the most hysterical Shetland I've ever worn. I've only worn the tie once. Two outta three ain't bad. Downstairs there's a bespoke fitting room done up like a Moroccan Bedouin tent. Instead of hash, there's a humidor filled with Cubans. Cigars, not people. Partagas, Cohiba, Montecristo and a favorite robusto, the Hoyo de Monterrey Epicure No 2. That's how you take care of a customer.
Fashion has a short shelf life. The designers and the media work together to lure the trendy in. Months of proud promenade - For a year if you're lucky and the designer duds, like a dumb wine, go into storage and wait 30 yrs before being palatable again. It's odd that Kos isn't covered more by the fashion media. But he doesn't advertise. Wonder who fashion media works for? The people who pay them and we're not talking subscriptions.
In all fairness, I do not write this blog to bring you news from J. Crew or Cole Haan. I figure you can find those folks on your own. Jay Kos is not so easy to find. The shop is on Mott, just around the corner from the warm heart of Emilio Ballato on Houston St. You don't need a compass to find the place but you'll feel like you discovered something the moment you step in.
293 Mott Street