Tino Abarca of Douglas Fir
As much as West 3rd Street has changed over the years, there have also been a few constants. One of them is Douglas Fir, a sartorial staple in the neighborhood for more than fifteen years and consistently ranked as one of the best men’s stores in the city
The open and airy space houses everything from fine suiting and tailored basics, to handmade leather bags and accessories. Walk through the back door, just beyond a secret courtyard, and you’ll find the new home of DF Feet – the store’s impeccably-curated shoe shop, with handsome leather couches and shelves upon shelves of leather brogues, boots and everyday sneakers. It’s like stepping into a successful gentleman’s closet and walking out a little bit taller, a little bit smarter and looking just a little bit more refined.
We caught up with co-owner Tino Abarca to find out how Douglas Fir has changed over the past 15 years and why he’ll always be old school when it comes to his customers.
Q:: What was the impetus behind opening Douglas Fir in this neighborhood?
We’ve always liked this neighborhood. We didn’t want a trendy area that would grow in popularity quickly and then fizzle out; we wanted something that would continue to be a destination for many years to come. Selfishly, I only live a mile away from the store, so it’s been my shortest commute to work ever!
Q:: What is the story behind the name, “Douglas Fir?”
We named the store after the Douglas Fir tree and we want our clothing to reflect the same feeling: strong and masculine, but classic and uncomplicated at the same time. We want to convey a feeling of warmth and easiness when customers come in.
Q:: So everything in the store was built with Douglas Fir wood?
Well, we didn’t want to be so literal, but there is a wooden beam running across our ceiling and that is actually made from a Douglas Fir tree. We tried to keep the rest of the space pretty clean and simple.
Q:: Is that why you have no mannequins in the store?
You’ve got a good eye! We purposely stayed away from mannequins or “lifestyle” photos on the walls. We don’t want to tell you how to wear things. Everyone’s personal style is different and we want to encourage our customers to wear what they like.
Q:: Who is the Douglas Fir customer?
Our customers really run the gamut, from that younger guy fresh out of college and looking for a suit for his first job, to Hollywood producers and executives. Just the other day, GQ creative director Jim Moore came into the store.
Q:: Tell us about brands you carry in the store.
We carry lines that are only in a handful of stores in America; I would say most of the lines are in no more than four or five other stores in the country. Up until five years ago, the lines we carried were only shown in Europe, so Jon [Noble, the co-owner] and I would go meet the designers and see their collections there. iphone 7 case outlet Now, many of them come to New York each season so it’s cut down on our travel time.
Q:: Once you meet the designers, how do you select the pieces you want to carry?
Our buying process is simple: we always look for masculine, clean lines and classic pieces re-made in a contemporary fit. We take a lot of pride in quality and fit. We have to remember that we are in Los Angeles, so we also like to go for casual, relaxed pieces that will transition easily, say from work to dinner, and never go out of style.
Q:: What are some of your favorite lines that you carry?
George Esquivel is definitely a customer favorite. He’s a bespoke shoemaker based out of Los Angeles and we always sell out of his shoes. cheap iphone xs case online He’ll do interesting distressings on the leather or change up the shape of a boot just slightly so that you get something a little more special than the average leather shoe. cheap iphone 7 case outlet George is a good friend of ours and we’ve been so excited to see all the exposure and attention he is getting, from GQ Magazine to the CFDA.
Alessandro Cantarelli is a family-run brand from Italy and one of the most respected names in suiting. They’re a great suit-maker and shirt-maker and really pay attention to tailoring and fine details. iphone 7 case on sales We also just picked up a brand called Saint Paul, from France, and they make some really fun prints and interesting resort wear. Their new collection is actually called the “Mulholland Drive Collection” and was inspired by the designer’s love of David Lynch movies.
Q:: Is there anything you don’t sell?
We don’t really sell denim. If people want jeans, they can see dozens of styles at Civilianire across the street. iphone 8 case outlet uk That’s what they specialize in, and they’re good at it. We might stock a couple pairs of jeans in our store, for those guys who want to match it with a shirt, or pick up a complete outfit from head to toe.
Q:: Aside from the product selection, what would you say makes Douglas Fir unique?
We are old school. We deliver old school customer service that you can’t really find in stores anymore. We still handwrite all our receipts and get you a glass of water when you’re shopping with us. iphone 7 case for sale Twenty percent of customers don’t live in L.A. and we’ll send them photos whenever new items come in and then take their orders over the phone. We always jot down their sizes, so we can recommend new pieces that we know will fit their body type and style. I still hand-pack all these orders myself!
Q:: How would you define West 3rd St.?
It feels like a real neighborhood and that’s what I like about it. People live nearby and get to know us. They’ll walk by and wave or come in to say hi, even if they’re not looking to buy anything. I helped a lady the other day that has been shopping with us for more than ten years and I’ve watched her daughter grow up. As we grow in our business, our customers are growing in life.
Q:: What are your favorite spots on the street?
Joan’s has the best coffee and food! I always get the tarragon chicken on a bed of lettuce. I tell all my customers to get that as well! I also like OK a lot. It’s one of the best gift stores in the city because they carry a lot of unique stuff that isn’t found anywhere else.
Q:: How has the street changed over the years?
There is definitely a mix between old and new. There’s a hair salon across the street where the average customer is probably 80 years old, and they’re right next to an iPhone repair shop. That’s a pretty good metaphor for the street. cheap iphone xs case online We’re one of the “oldies” and we try to keep some of that charm, while keeping it current with our product selection. We definitely want to attract new customers but I’m not spending half a million dollars on a fancy sign either!
Q:: Where do you see this street in the next 15 years?
I hope to one day have a trolley here that will take people between the Beverly Center and The Grove, with multiple drop-off points along West 3rd Street along the way.