A Visit to Wooden Sleepers.
Vintage clothing, particularly styles that were purpose-built to serve specific functional needs, have always been a source of inspiration for us at 3sixteen. We love seeing clothing that has sustained years - sometimes decades - of heavy use, and how the wearer’s daily routines are literally engrained into the garment. We also really enjoy seeing how certain fabrics and details are carefully considered for one purpose only, but can become aesthetically beautiful beyond the original designer’s intent. Most of our garment silhouettes find their roots in vintage American athletic wear, workwear, or military service garments, and as such, we rely on carefully curated offerings from our friends like Jaime Wong at Raggedy Threads or Brian Davis from Wooden Sleepers.
Our relationship with Brian spans back many years to when we were both exhibiting at Pop Up Flea events in NYC. When he first opened his Red Hook storefront in 2015, he stocked our heavyweight tees and CT-100x jeans alongside his vintage offerings. Quite a few of our designs are inspired by reference pieces we’ve purchased from Brian over the years, including our FW17 Hunting Jacket and our FW20 Block Fatigues. In the middle of the pandemic last year, Brian reevaluated the business and relocate it closer to his home in Westchester. Last week, we finally took a trip up to visit him at his new appointment-only showroom in Yonkers, NY.
The visit was also slightly self-serving, though. As someone who’s sourced some really beautiful vintage flannels over the years, we wanted to get Brian’s take on our FW21 Crosscuts that just released. We worked really hard this past year to nail the slack-weave coarse pattern that shows up on old Five Brothers or Big Macs, coupled with a sun-faded color that looks like it was line-dried outside for years. Judging from his reaction - which was immediately putting one on and not taking it off - we think we got it right.
Tell me about this past year and a half - a lot has happened with you personally, and with Wooden Sleepers too.
In March 2020, I closed my shop in Red Hook and immediately pivoted to an online only model. I already had e-commerce and a strong social following to lean into during this time and our community of customers, clients, and followers really came through - it was truly inspiring. By August of 2020 I made the tough decision to close up my shop permanently and focus on growing our online business and some strategic brand partnerships (Ralph Lauren, Todd Snyder, L.L. Bean, J. Crew, etc.). Fast forward to Fall 2021 and I felt like it was a good time to stick my toe back into retail by opening up my showroom/studio for private shopping appointments.
You’ve started to take private appointments again in the space this past month. What’s it been like?
The response has been great. I really missed that face to face interaction. I expected some of our Brooklyn customers to visit, as well as our designer clients, but what caught me by surprise was this cool Westchester guy that has no place to shop up here. I’m seeing guys from Yonkers, Greenwich, Pelham, and even further north - which is really awesome! There’s also the weekend warrior heading upstate from the city and for that guy we’re right on the way - easy on, easy off. With COVID still raging, I feel like there’s a comfort in a clean, private, shopping environment. Also, it gives the client a chance to have my undivided attention for the duration of their visit, which would never happen on a busy Saturday in Brooklyn.
You and your wife welcomed a new baby boy into the family a few weeks ago. How has the arrival of your second child affected your approach and perspective to the business?
When I signed the lease on my showroom, I just needed a place to work during quarantine. I didn’t realize at the time that operating my business 5 minutes away from my home was an incredible thing. Having a toddler and a newborn at home, the last thing I want to being doing with my time is commuting to the city two hours everyday. For me, having my own business is all about creating the kind of life that I have always wanted - and at the top of that list is being able to spend as much time with my family as possible.
The showroom is looking nice and full. What are some things in here right now that you’re especially attached to?
My favorite piece in the showroom right now is a little kid’s souvenir flight jacket with some incredible chain-stitch embroidery on the back. Aside from that, it’s still kind of warm in NY, so I’m leaning towards lighter weight outerwear layers like our 40s military HBT field jackets, canvas hunting coats, and of course some worn in hoodies and flannel shirts.
What do you look for in a good vintage flannel?
If you put a rack of 50 vintage flannels in front of me, I could probably pick the best ones blindfolded because it’s all about the feel. A good flannel must have a certain heft to it. The fabric should feel substantial and get softer and better with age the more the owner washes and wears it - similar to a good pair of denim. You guys really nailed the fabric with this one.
It’s officially fall. What are some pieces you’re particularly excited about bringing out again to wear this season?
I’ll tell you what, I’m not taking off this Crosscut Flannel until Spring! Aside from that, I’m excited to bust out my 60s A-2 deck jacket, Brown’s Beach vest, assortment of chambrays and crewneck sweatshirts, 3sixteen CS jeans, and boots - what my wife Allison lovingly refers to as “Winter Brian.”
How can people get in touch with you to come visit?
The DM’s are always open! Follow on IG @woodensleepers and shop online at wooden-sleepers.com. If you’re in the greater NYC area and want to visit the showroom for some in person shopping, shoot me a message and we’ll make it happen. We’re right across the street from a Metro North station, so you don’t even need a car.