Magasin Warehouse Sale: In Conversation with Josh Peskowitz
Magasin Warehouse Sale: In Conversation with Josh Peskowitz
- Words Gregory Babcock
- Date November 30, 2018
Josh Peskowitz is far from an unknown force. While the man's resume runs the gamut (spanning everything from Esquire magazine to Bloomingdale's), one key constant is his clear eye for what's moving and shaking in menswear today. It's that very perspective that's helped thrust Magasin—a curated menswear mecca tucked in LA's Platform marketplace—into the spotlight as a cult favorite among guys along today's multi-faceted fashion spectrum. With Peskowitz as a co-founder, the store rings out with his brand of blended men's must-haves—including top pieces from Dries Van Noten, Engineered Garments, Massimo Alba and more.
In honor of Magasin's first-ever Warehouse sale, we spoke Peskowitz about the state of retail, LA and his new work with Moda Operandi. Scope the interview below and shop a preview of hand-selected picks from Peskowitz and the Magasin team. If you happen to be in LA today, make sure to RSVP to the Magasin warehouse sale preview (more information here).
Images courtesy of Magasin
Many of Grailed’s users are—at the very least—familiar with your work across several editorial (The Fader, Esquire) and retail (Gilt Groupe, Bloomingdale’s) outlets. While Magasin manages to blend both of those backgrounds in a particularly “Peskowitzian”-way, it still feels uniquely detached from traditions of those worlds. In your opinion, how is Magasin—and by proxy, your curatorial influence on Magasin—changing modern retail?
Well, it’s nice of you to say that many Grailed users would be familiar with my work, but I don’t bet on it. As I don’t assume that customers that come into the store are well versed the products we offer, or the point of view behind them. What we sell represents the sensibilities of my partners, Simon Golby and Christophe Desmaison, and myself. People who do know me come into the store and say “This is some Peskowitz shit”, but it’s really all of us. The thing that I hope we’ve done that no one else really has is to blend worlds that are traditionally separated. Street from tailored, tailored from workwear, workwear from progressive designer, progressive designer from artisanal. Most people who are invested in their personal style float between all this to create their own thing. To achieve it they have to visit several departments, if not stores, if not cities. We’re not saying we have it all locked at Magasin, but we have a perspective on all those things, and we try to put them all into a context. In a time where anything is available to anyone (with a little effort) the most important thing is point of view, that’s what Magasin has added to the conversation.
You’re a native New Yorker, but you’ve chosen to run Magasin out of LA—a city with a less-than-stellar reputation when it comes to (tasteful) men’s fashion. What drew you to the City of Angels, and how has LA shaped, directed and imprinted itself on Magasin and what’s on the shelves?
One of New York’s favorite hobbies is hating Los Angeles. I was guilty of it earlier in life. About 12 years ago I had conversation with a friend who’d been a publisher at The Fader when I was visiting. I told him I hated it here, he said, "turn 30 and tell me if you feel the same way." There’s a lot to love about LA, and many New Yorkers have been moving here as they’ve been priced out of any remotely appealing neighborhood in NYC. The thing that I always loved about New York was the chance to invent yourself, and then reinvent yourself if it didn’t work out the first time. That’s harder than ever back home, but in LA there’s still room to try and not succeed, that’s the appeal to my artistic community that has relocated. When it comes to fashion, LA gets a bad rap, but it’s so BIG, there’s so many different styles out there. In terms of how it’s affected what we sell, it’s more about weight than anything. It never gets cold enough for some of the 40 below shit I love.
Reading Guy Trebay’s profile on you in The New York Times, it notes that Platform drew you out to LA. What is Platform exactly, and how were they instrumental in Magasin’s success up to this point?
Platform is a multi use development in the Culver City area of Los Angeles. Culver is the original home of the movie studios, and now is the home of Amazon Films, Apple, Nike, a grip of architecture firms and creative agencies. It’s where a lot of creative energy, including art galleries and restaurants, on the west side of Los Angeles is being generated. The guys behind Platform have brought together a lot of like-minded businesses–in retail, hospitality and the like. They were big supporters of the Magasin concept and really facilitated us opening up.
Are there any brands based in LA that have caught your eye and/or ended up on Magasin’s radar?
Not all of the ones I’m about to list have ended up in the store, but the community is there: Second/Layer, Garrett Leight California Optical, No.One.System, Billy Los Angeles to name a few.
Zooming out a bit, in your opinion, what brands have come to define the offering you’ve created at Magasin?
The mix is the most important thing, but the brands that have helped build the foundation of Magasin would be Massimo Alba, Engineered Garments, Blue Blue Japan, Harris Wharf London, Aspesi, Monitaly/Yuketen, and Levi’s.
Do you buy with your own personal interests in mind? How do you buy for the store without buying entirely based on only things you, yourself would want to wear or have in your wardrobe?
Again, in this era, point of view is everything. I try to make sure there is a direction and narrative to what we buy for the store. Is some of it wild shit that only I would wear? I hope not, but occasionally yes. Retail is an art, not a science, and we try to make sure we keep our customers in mind. What are their lives like? How do these clothes fit into it? So, we buy things I would never personally wear, and skip over things that I would freak on the regular. It’s a balance.
With firsthand experience on both coasts, how do you feel about the nature of “IRL retail?" Independent shops like Magasin have an excellent sense of aesthetic and curation, but much of the country shops at its big box, local malls. How do you at Magasin entice shoppers who want to know more about men’s fashion, but might not understand where to start or that stores like Magasin exist?
If I’m being honest, Magasin isn’t the store for men who don’t know where to start. If such a guy walks in the store and wants to have a conversation about what he needs in his wardrobe, guaranteed we can hook him up with something that will work with what he’s got AND push him forward a little bit. But he’s got to be open to it. Truth is, IRL retail has benefited mightily from the web. Men have been able to self-radicalize when it comes to style and fashion online so when they come into the store they know what it is. Even for them, we try to have some things that they’ve never heard of to open them up further and get that conversation going. IRL retail is all about community and interaction, we try to be very inclusive. Here, you can touch it, try it on, feel the fabric and understand the shape. This is very important when it comes to visualizing how it can fit into your wardrobe. Think about every time you’ve put on a piece of clothing that changes your whole world view–your sense of self. Did it make you want to throw out everything you own? Did it make you want to be a different person and live in a different place? Maybe. These moments don’t happen often, but this is the business we’re in.
Shifting to shopping online, you’ve recently been brought on as Moda Operandi’s men’s fashion director (congratulations, of course). How do you blend and balance the business in LA with Magasin, with your new role in New York with Moda Operandi? What crosses over and what stays separated?
First off, thank you. Magasin and Moda Operandi are vastly different businesses and different aesthetics to a certain degree, but the fact remains that a discerning male customer cares about four things: craftsmanship, innovation, rarity and status. The degree to which each influences his decisions is what makes him, well, him. This is the customer who will push our industry forward, and no matter what his aesthetic and sense of self may be, the mentality is the same across the board. So how do we cater to this guy at Moda vs Magasin? The difference is subtle. Of course, at Moda we are talking about household name brands as much as we are talking about niche and emerging brands, but the way we put it together may end up being similar.
What are the benefits of independent retail? What are the benefits of a major online store like Moda? In your opinion, how do the two coexist peacefully?
The days of being something to everyone are over, and a truly motivated customer can find what he wants with minimal effort. Instead, try to be everything to someone. Big or small, the most important thing is perspective and point of view. Moda can offer something different than Magasin, but both strive to offer something unique to their customer that makes them feel as though they are understood and part of something. Feeling seen in the digital age is fucking hard, but if you talk the talk, people will respond.
What’s your take on secondhand retail? Obviously you’re a friend of the team here at Grailed, but where do you think a marketplace like Grailed fits into the larger retail ecosystem?
Clothing needs to be worn. This is what Grailed adds to the world. Things that people would have bought and worn once and locked away can get new life. It also allows the enthusiast to go out and get something new that pushes the conversation forward. Of course, the system can be abused by resellers and bots and all that, but if the goal is to get the clothes into the hands of the kids that will love it, I am completely on board. Brands might balk at the mark ups, and crowds can be fickle, but with the amount of clothing that is produced annually that ends up in landfill, all solutions should be explored. Granted, Grailed is the high end, but the concept holds.
Your personal style (and, as outlined in the aforementioned Times profile, tattoos) showcase a blend of artistic and sartorial influences that are as diverse as your resume. Do you feel that online shops—including marketplaces like Grailed—allow users to indulge (or discover) the various sides of their personal styles?
Marketplaces like Grailed help take some of the risk of style choices: It used to be that if you bought something on a whim and then kept in on ice for a few months before only wearing it once—or not at all—you were stuck with it. Someone else might love it and buy it secondhand from you, so that’s a great development. I think online shops in general have exposed more people in more places to brands and styles they wouldn’t have been conscious of before. The more information you have, the more varied your tastes can become (or more specific, as the case may be). My personal style has developed as it has because I’ve been exposed to so many influences through my work, my travel and my community, if the web provides that to more and more men, I think that’s a win.