Last week Scott and I took a drive out to Moreland Hills to visit J3 Clothing Company.
We met up with Smitten…in Cleveland, Wearing Mascara, Blog – The New Black and Life in Cleveland for a blogger get-together hosted by the store. After thoroughly enjoying pizza from their next-door neighbor Flour, we spent our evening learning more about this unique, locally-owned men’s clothing store.
I was in a mood to mix things up today, so since Scott is J3′s target audience, he’s guest blogging about our experience there. Enjoy!
I am very thankful to have been extraordinarily lucky in life. Maybe not in money, and maybe not in looks, but where it counts: with people who love me.
Two of these people have been my Mother and my Wife.
Of the many things each has done for me, the only thing pertinent to this blog post is that they have single-handedly rescued me from looking like a sloven idiot, one taking over for the other as I progressed through life.
My Mother saved me from embarrassment at school (or at least additional embarrassment beyond my tall gangliness and nerd-preferences) by making sure I didn’t leave the house in plaid shorts and wrinkled t-shirts. And my Wife saves me from unemployment by making sure I don’t go to work in that same outfit…literally.
I still fit in those shorts.
The point that I am verbosely making here is that my opinion of clothes is quite simple; I can’t go out naked and, as far I am concerned, clothing is clothing. Those same shorts that I somehow snuck into my Mother’s shopping cart nearly two decades ago cover me up just as legally as any designer pants. So why bother spending money on something that gives the same socially-required results of something I already own?
The answer to that question is quite simple. At some point during that period called “college” when I was released unsupervised into the wild, Amanda managed to see past whatever travesty I had managed to put myself in (note my eternal gratitude there). From then forward I have welcomed and benefited from her ability to guide me in a fashionable direction.
But she, like all wives, deserves to have a husband who can look good on his own without requiring her involvement. In fact, I’ve come to realize that I like dressing well and looking good for her.
The trouble is…I don’t really know how. Someone’s always been around to do it for me, and my mind hasn’t absorbed any of it. And I’ve walked into plenty of large men’s clothiers across many states and not really known if the pre-fab suit I’ve just had tossed over my shoulders looks good because it does or just looks good because the person aching for a sales commission has convinced the ignorant fool staring at three mirrors that it does. I’ve long known that I’ve needed some sort of alternative I can turn to which can help me look good for Amanda without requiring her input.
And that’s where J3 Clothing Company enters the picture.
Let me pause here to elaborate a little bit about what Northeast Ohio’s newest independent men’s store is about (liberally plagiarizing the bits from their website that I like). Between the three founders – JB Dunn, Jack Madda, and Joe Paster – the store benefits from “a collective 65 years experience in the men’s clothing industry.” They claim to have “examined, refocused, and reinvented our business with one goal in mind – to create a comfortable shopping environment for our clients, customers and friends where the clothing is most suited to your lifestyle.” On top of that, they’ve designed their sales space with a lounge that “invites you to relax, watch the game, enjoy an event or simply visit.”
I must say…I agree with those claims.
I visited their Moreland Hills location thanks to Amanda being invited to a hosted blogger event. Already knowing that there will be people one knows there helps put one in a relaxed state, but upon arrival I was personally greeted by JB and Joe (Jack was assisting another customer), who did make me feel right at home. Their enthusiasm for their store – both the items for sale and the items those items were sitting/hanging on – was infectious.
They gleefully motioned around to things I couldn’t buy – the reclaimed wood and metal display stands and decor created by local artisans like A Piece of Cleveland and 44 Steel. Even the clothing itself – such as the belts displayed in a cross-hatch pattern – was uniquely displayed with a laid back feel.
The wood and glass details and decoration gave the store a comfy feel…something I’d want to set my NES up in and play a little Super Mario Bros 3.
In fact, I don’t think there was a point where either JB or Joe showed any desire for me to actually move on to browsing their wares…which was a very appreciated feeling. I was the one who initiated the browsing, and they let me wander about the store at my own pace, always clearly available should I need them but never hovering, waiting for me to tug at the line.
Now, I’m not going to lie…when I turned over the first price tag I had a bit of sticker shock. Before then I don’t think I’ve ever seen a piece of fabric with a price tag attached to it which used 4 numerals…all to the left of the decimal.
But, after my audible gasp, I reminded myself of two things, the first being this: my whole life I’ve been going to sub-par clothing stores. My reaction was basically like that of someone who has driven pedal cars all their life and has now walked into an actual car dealership. I’ve simply never been somewhere where they sell you the right things for what they’re actually worth.
The second thing I reminded myself of was that there were other things in the store, and after that first random price check I found plenty of items which had only 3 and 2 numerals to the left of the decimal. And, honestly, the pricing is irrelevant. After going back to JB and Joe and talking clothes and shoes in a little more detail, it was clear that they were more interested in finding the items that were the right look for me over the ones that had the highest price tag.
Building on their experience it was revealed that I could bring in some of the old suits I had inherited from various great uncles and other relatives and the sharp-eyed gents at J3 would tailor them to actually fit me…if it was an outfit worth wearing. Understandably the suits purchased at their store would take preference over ones brought in from elsewhere, but just knowing that was an option made me smile.
Unfortunately I had not come to J3 that day prepared with the time or money to buy a proper outfit. I was prepared, however, to outfit myself with some new socks. I picked out a pair of comfy black ones, and Amanda selected a blue pair with a racing stripe (which, I believe, will make me go faster). As of now I am still quite satisfied with this purchase, which is good since Joe had indicated we had chosen wisely.
But make no mistake, I will be heading back to meet with JB, Joe, and Jack (who I met briefly before leaving) again. They are the ones who will be able to guide me into the outfit that I know Amanda deserves to have me dressed in. After my visit to J3 Clothing Company I have no doubt that their 65 years of experience will make use of their amazing selection to outfit me in the proper style and cost.
After all, I’m the man who has a pair of plaid shorts which have lasted him 20 years that I don’t want to wear anywhere. Buying a suit that actually looks and feels good that I’d want to wear everywhere would be absolutely worth it.
I’ll still pale in comparison to the amazing woman at my side, but it will be a pale in something that fits.
About the Guest Blogger
Scott Hicken is the much kinder half of Team Clue Into CLE (seriously, I’m the lucky one – he doesn’t give himself the credit he should). In addition to the being the guy behind the camera when I drag him to blogger stuff, he stays busy archiving his collection of vintage video game systems and managing the long-running webcomic Exiern.com. His latest project is the reimagining of Golden Age comic book heroine The Purple Tigress, currently in production. Stay up-to-date with the progress of this comic at www.PurpleTigress.com.
Disclosure: I was invited to attend the J3 Clothing open house in exchange for tweeting and blogging my thoughts about it. I asked Scott to blog about it because I thought he would have a more personal perspective on the subject. The opinions provided here are 100% his own.