Seattle-based retailer Totokaelo is probably one you’ve heard of at least a couple of times before, especially after the opening of their massive five-story, 8,400-square-foot New York City SoHo store last fall located at 54 Crosby Street. With a mens roster full of fashion figureheads ranging from Henrik Vibskov and Maison Margiela to Rick Owens and Issey Miyake, it’s no hole-in-the-wall pop-up shop that sells a few piece a day—it’s a machine that’s one of the biggest players in the realm of fashion that many of us on Grailed engage with on a daily basis. Knowing all that, the expectations for Totokaelo to deliver a unique experience for those of us that live in either Seattle or New York or put in web orders are extremely high. We took a quick tour through the shop and spoke with Chicquelo Smith, who’s been a part of the men’s floor staff for almost a year, about the vibe and allure of Totokaelo.

My favorite question to ask: what’s the vibe of the store like?

On the men's floor the vibe is chill, a different change of pace, culturally in tune due to the energies that pop in and out of the store. Music plays a part when I'm in there because that's the world I come from. You may get some late 90's/early 00's R&B/Hip-Hop, contemporary music to really esoteric Brazilian/bossanova mixes — it all just depends. At the end of the day, the vibe is welcoming and I know that from the feedback and genuine conversations I have with people on the floor.

Who’s the average customer at Totokaelo? What do you think draws people to the store?

The average customer at Totokaelo is someone that's in the know and knows who they are. They're either highly knowledgable consumers of designer pieces or industry insiders in all fields. The reason they're shopping at Totokaelo is our perspective in the marketplace differs in many ways — we feel like we know who the Totokaelo MAN and Totokaelo WOMAN is and we buy for them, so the byproduct of that is our buy from brands vary in ways you can't find at the flagship of each brand or other accounts.

How do you think the block you’re on affects the shop?

Weirdly enough, it makes us a "destination location" within one of New York's premiere shopping districts and it's extremely unassuming — which I like.

What drew you personally to be a part of Totokaelo?

I guess what drew me to Totokaelo is me identifying with what they projected — it wasn't trying to fit in and it didn't scream "hey, look at me I'm different!"; it just was. That type of representation is something I felt comfortable helping build.

Is there any style/brand you’d like to see more of in the store?

Conversations have been had and I feel we'll see more of what I'd like to see and what my co-workers would like to see this FW16-17.

Name some of your favorite pieces in the shop right now.

I just bought these deep navy Junya Watanabe cotton twill trousers, I'm liking the new Issey Miyake navy crinkle button-up from the mainline, Dries Van Noten's Carlton shirt in bordeaux and navy is strong, and our Yang Li/Lemaire women's buy is something that caught my attention as well.

Shop some of Totokaelo's favorite brands below.

Tags: totokaelo, new-york-city, photography, a-closer-look