Today Clothing: Ann Arbor’s own cathedral of menswear

Wednesday, September 28, 2016 - 4:25pm

Kevin Pearson and Eric Hardin, owners of Today Clothing

Kevin Pearson and Eric Hardin, owners of Today Clothing Buy this photo
Claire Abdo/Daily

 

As you walk into Today Clothing, the philosophy that defines the store is fairly clear. An elegant interior and muted color palette are juxtaposed with store speakers softly playing vintage soul music, evoking a distinct sense of ease and artistry. Racks of men’s clothes neatly line the walls, eclectic and colorful sneakers are tucked in the back and tables placed around the store showcase what new and notable wares have come Today’s way. It calls Fourth Ave. its home, Literati its neighbor and is a bit of an anomaly as far as Ann Arbor’s storefronts go. With its shelves boasting storied menswear brands like A.P.C.wings+horns and Norse Projects, one could move Today to one of the hipper streets in SoHo without anyone batting much of an eye — and that’s largely the point.

“Even if I wanted to shop (in Ann Arbor), there was nowhere I’d be excited to be going. We decided that it made sense to change that,” said Kevin Pearson, who owns and manages Today along with Eric Hardin, a fellow Michigan native and University of Michigan Engineering alum. “I knew no one was doing retail well here, or anywhere in southeast Michigan.”

What Hardin and Pearson sought to accomplish with Today was an audacious task, but its welcome presence in the city is the thankful product of what they said was “the timing being right.”

In addition to Today’s carefully envisioned design, Hardin and Pearson said they put great thought and consideration into each and every item that lines their storefront.

“We want items that look good, but we also want items that age well and that our customers can wear for years,” Hardin said.

Customers can find colorful and playful designs nestled alongside monochromatic, classic looks; wares can range from effortlessly stylish and timeless threads from menswear brands like Our Legacy and Monitaly, to loud and personal pieces from the likes of Vans and local designer Yoshi, a Japanese transplant and former Comme Des Garçons collaborator worthy of his own story. Today can even say it is one of a few store in the United States for many of the brands it carries — at the moment, Today is the only official stockist for A.P.C. products in the state of Michigan.

Beyond good looks and craftsmanship, Today’s inventory is also telling of the kinds of people Hardin and Pearson are. “Our brand is a map of who we've wanted to work with. We’re fortunate to say that most of these brands in here can be called our friends and we’re fortunate to work with them,” Pearson said.

On the graces of previously established industry connections, Hardin and Pearson were able to build Today thanks to personal relationships they’ve continued to foster; for every new brand put into consideration, “getting to know the brand and its people” is an integral process for Today, per Hardin.

“We decided to channel a lot of our relationships and got serious about a shared vision” — it’s an aspect of Today’s business that separates the store from many of its retail contemporaries.

Today is a refreshing fixture among Ann Arbor’s typical retail scene. Fronted by two gregarious (and, frankly, very cool) owners with an appreciation for all things creative and well-designed, Today affords its patrons a reasoned and tasteful introduction to male high fashion. As much as its inventory is an illustration of the duo’s personalities, Today is also an earnest homage to the current artistic landscape of menswear (fitting, considering their space used to house an art gallery). No matter one’s predispositions to fashion, Today’s contributions to Ann Arbor’s cultural landscape are worthy of recognition, and its significance in Ann Arbor’s retail and fashion scene will only grow as time goes on. Noting Today’s relationship with the city, Pearson said it best: “Ann Arbor just felt like home.” And for many of the city’s fashionable men, Today can function as a home in much of the same way.