Cult Shop: Evan Kinori, a utilitarian menswear mecca in San Francisco
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“The whole thing has been built around the evolution of my personal style,” says Evan Kinori of his menswear label and store in San Francisco’s Mission District. The brand favours soft lines and wide-leg shapes, an aesthetic that he dates to his break-up with skinny jeans.
Kinori studied pattern-cutting at design school before launching his brand in 2015 with a small line of jackets, shirts and pants. Today he releases around two new collections a year as well as smaller drops – each sewn and sampled in-house – redesigning only where he sees room for improvement. “If you can’t find something you want, make something,” says Kinori, who ignores the concept of a “target” customer. “Once you get it right, leave it be.” Take the drop-shoulder Big Shirt ($425) and roomy Elastic Pant ($525), both long-standing styles: 80 per cent of customers have bought them again – many buy in bulk.
The brick-and-mortar store opened in 2021 on Valencia Street, a space chosen for its airy charm and architecture. “My main focus was to give everything room to breathe,” says Kinori – a nod to minimalist artist Donald Judd. Clients include Bay Area chefs, artists and Hollywood screenwriters.
In true utilitarian style, Kinori’s HQ accommodates a workspace, warehouse and showroom, with the latter open from Friday to Sunday (it’s by appointment midweek). Kinori marvels at its floors: 100-year-old Douglas-fir wood resurfaced after a six-month renovation. A low concrete bench displays locally made wooden stools and ceramics imported from Mallorca and New Mexico (from $70). The collection hangs opposite on a rail cantilevered off the wall – Kinori calls it a “menswear wardrobe total”, offering current season and archival pieces, including a herringbone zip jacket ($885) and puppytooth shirt ($415), as well as the store’s permanent line of undyed hemp and organic cotton-mix separates (from $325) intended for all seasons.
The brand’s slow-paced production schedule allows time to deepen relationships with suppliers and experiment with different dyeing techniques. Recently, Kinori produced a yarn-dyed linen with a textile expert in Japan, a country he admires for its diversity in craftsmanship. “You could probably visit a basket weaver, shoe maker and fabric weaver in the same day,” he says. Traces of this admiration are felt throughout the space, from the Washi paper screens in the windows to a meeting room kitted out with jute rugs on the building’s top-floor. In his designs, the inspiration takes root in relaxed silhouettes.
Kinori hopes his customers will leave with a new attitude toward dressing, one driven less by trends and more by instinct. “We try to guide [people] to the piece that makes sense for them,” he says, adding that “if nothing makes sense, that’s cool too”. While there’s no written programme for his brand’s future, Kinori hints at woodworking. There’s a sense that he has only scratched the surface of an entire line of simple, made-to-last products.