Retailer of the Week
19 Apr. 2011
KEVIN HANSEN, BADOWERS, DES MOINESKevin Hansen is the buyer and manager of Badowers, Des Moines, Iowa’s only menswear specialty store. Carrying a mix of traditional tailored clothing and casual sportswear along with footwear, the longstanding shop offers stylish looks for guys in a city where fashion –especially men’s fashion– is hardly the local obsession. Here, Hansen, who joined the Badowers team four years ago, discusses the store’s history, its bestselling brands and the joy he experiences every day working there. By Christopher Blomquist
“We have been in business more than 50 years. The store was founded by a master tailor, Fred Badower, a Jewish immigrant who survived the Holocaust because he could sew. He made uniforms for Nazi officers. Much of his family didn’t survive. He moved to Des Moines after the war, remarried and ran the store with his wife until the 1980s. We are a remnant of the way men used to shop before department stores and malls. We are still the premier tailored clothing store in the state. But we have evolved to reflect the way most men dress today.
Billy Reid and Gant Rugger have done very well for us the last couple of seasons. Our top performing denim lines are Baldwin Denim and Naked and Famous. We are the only store in Iowa that carries raw denim. We also carry Spurr, Raleigh Denim, 3sixteen, Kasil and Agave.
Our typical customer is between 35 and 55 years old. He cares about his wardrobe but really likes having a relationship with the store, likes having his ‘place’ and that is where we fit in. There are no major department stores in Des Moines and we are the only men’s specialty store in the city. He follows trends to a degree but trusts our edit and advice.
I am very excited about adding LBM 1911 for fall. The line looks great and has a lot of buzz around it right now. Luigi Bianchi is our top-selling clothing line so it just made sense to add the sportswear. I’m also looking forward to having the Gant by Michael Bastian line on the floor. Schott’s price points in the core line are an incredible value and we chose a few really great items from its Perfecto line. The Wolverine 1000 Mile [boot] collection has been great for us and I see it continuing. Boots are easy to wear and easy for guys to understand. We have always been a mix of American sportswear and Italian luxury so I feel like we are in a great position right now.
It typically takes a few years for a trend to catch on in Des Moines. For example, guys here are finally getting rid of overly adorned denim and sport shirts. And really finally starting to think about fit options as fashion. To be honest, raw denim hasn’t really even started here. There is always so much talk in the industry about the death of denim but it’s very much a part of the American uniform. Men in Des Moines are also very conscious about NOT standing out too much. They want to look good without being too fussy about it.
Naked & Famous selection at Badowers
I shop the trade shows in Las Vegas and the showrooms in New York. Trade shows are fun; there is always a lot to look at. But I much prefer shopping a showroom. It’s much easier to stay focused and build relationships with the vendors. When I want to know how something fits I can try it on. It makes it better for me to give an honest opinion to my customers. And of course, I’m constantly looking at blogs and online sites to see what else is out there that might fit into our mix.
The retail scene here is probably dominated by the mall stores and chain stores in the suburbs. But that being said, the independent stores get a lot of attention. Des Moines is a big small town and consumers have become more conscious of where they are spending their money and doing their best to keep it local. In Iowa we were fortunate not to get hit as bad when the economy slowed. We did see business soften but the last two seasons have been very good for us.
I can’t really pinpoint where my interest in the business started. I’ve just always loved clothes. I have the best job in Des Moines. I get to help executives pick out fabric and make beautiful high quality suits. I get to help a young guy find a pair of denim he wants to wear for the next year – and everything in between..."
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