|Context owner, Ryan, showing off the difference between new and worn Context Leather|
When I wed
Ryan Gosling the man of my dreams,
I'm ordering him to shop at Context.
|These Alden shoes sell out before they hit the store. Only one place in the U.S. makes this type of leather.|
"That's nice", you say,
"but why, Gabby, would you be shopping at a "men's store??"
Well, first of all. How very sexist of you.
Looks like someone needs a good helping of feminist advice from my wisdom-filled hubby, Mr. Gosling himself.
|Context Leather: Wisconsin Beermat Set|
But I digress. The purpose of this brief daydream into euphoria was to illustrate that the store in question today is sheer perfection ...
and perfection, my friends, knows no gender.
I first heard about Context because of their "unisex jeans", but I ended up falling madly in love with so very much more - and I'm not the only one. The store was listed as one of GQ's 10 best independent men's shops, and has had 3 items named as "best products" by the famous magazine.
|Kenton Sorenson Leather Dopp Kit, Leather Head Medicine ball|
|The 3 items chosen by GQ.|
Everything in the store is carefully selected from all over the world by owners Ryan, Sam and Ben, who also frequently collaborate with designers on special projects. For example, next week a pair of jeans will hit the shelves that were designed by Japanese denim maker, Momotaro, in coordination with the Context men themselves.
Which brings me to the jeans.
Ohh, the jeans.
They should almost invent another word to describe what they sell here, because nothing about these pieces of artwork is ordinary.
|Anastasia. Wearing A.P.C. Petite Standard|
|Fun fact: You can tell they're quality jeans by the type of seam seen here.|
If you've ever heard of "raw" or "heritage" denim, you know what I'm talking about. Made on old fashioned machines called "Shuttle Looms", these modern marvels embody the original "Americana" aesthetic (which, ironically enough, the Japanese seem to capture best).
It's true, they do come stiff (and by "stiff" I mean with an holy-crap-I-cannot-move-let-alone-breathe-or-now-ever-have-children degree of rigidity), but they slowly mold and wear to your body in the most personal of ways (no washing!), making every minute of early-on constraint more than worth it.
|Same pair of jeans - left new, right about 2 yrs old.|
Denim like this is extremely rare, but Context sources the best of the best along with other high quality goods from across the globe.
|Backpacks by Swedish brand Fjallraven. According to Ryan, the most stylish girls in the world wear these.|
|Harding & Wilson|
Not only is the inventory unrivaled, but the store's design strikes just the right balance between rusticity and class, and I'd have no problem letting owner Ryan decorate my
parent's basement NYC loft in a similar fashion. The environment made it easy for me to envision myself wearing the clothing every single day of my aspirational life.
Really, though, you just have to go there. Nothing I say can describe the silky texture of the worn denim or the buttery feel of the leather.
|Apolis + Context Madison Market Bag|
Hands are needed here -- and they should be. These products are meant to last you for a lifetime ... so before committing, you at least want to reach first base.
113 King St.
Madison, WI 53703
Madison, WI 53703