By Sharon Gittleman
Where do you go if you want to wear beautifully-made casual clothing that is stylish but not brassy? One new Birmingham men’s boutique has the answer.
“Peasant” co-owner Brian Foltyn, 31, said he opened his high-end unfussy clothing store with his wife Karissa Foltyn, 29, to fill a big void.
“There aren’t any great men’s stores where clothes are more toned down,” he said. “There’s a lot of real flashy stores where you’d be wearing the clothes for the clubs and there’s the mall and nothing in between.”
Foltyn said the pants, shirts and tees in his store are understated with attention paid to fit and tailoring.
“We are trying to hit the people who have to wear a suit everyday and want to dress down on the weekend or people who can wear more casual clothes to work but still want to look nice,” he said. “The biggest feedback we’ve gotten from most customers is it’s an edited version of Barney’s in New York.”
While many of the designers who created Peasant’s clothing are well-known nationally, they weren’t available in the Midwest until the store moved to Birmingham this March, Foltyn said.
On the racks, you’ll find “Edun” Ð U2 band member Bono’s line.
“He set up factories in developing countries,” said Foltyn.
Designer Rogan creates Edun’s jeans, shirts and jackets patterns, Foltyn said. Workers in poor countries are paid a fair wage to produce them, promoting trade instead of charity.
“Bono said it’s like you’re giving them a fishing pole instead of fish,” he said.
Steven Alan’s button-down shirts are another big line at Peasant.
“It feels like a shirt you’ve had for your whole life,” said Foltyn. “His concept is button and go. You don’t have to iron it or tuck it in and you still look great.”
Alan’s shirts have a little secret.
“A lot of his stuff has poems on the inside – something no one would see unless they are wearing it,” he said.
You won’t find Rogues Gallery t-shirts at the mall. The tops cost $60 and up.
“They take vintage t-shirts, hand turn them and deep dye them,” he said. “All their prints are nautical or creepy images that reference Jack London or Herman Melville.”
Many of the tops have sailing ships and menacing animals emblazoned on the front.
“They’ll do a lot of skulls and serpents. They have one they call a mad horse. They only print one run of each t-shirt,” he said. “Inside, they’ll have a different print or a saying.”
You’ll also find shoes and other accessories at Peasant.
“We have Camper Shoes out of Spain,” he said. “They are known for twins Ð where the pair of shoes doesn’t match. One will lace differently then the other one, there will be different prints or the stitching will be different. They do crazy stuff each year.”
Jack Spade’s male bags, wallets and key chains are available at the store, along with Sharps men’s skin care line and volumes printed by Taschen Publications.
“They’re great books about film and architecture in an extra large format,” he said. “You’d be surprised how many people come in to buy clothes and walk out with a film book.”
Women will find a handful of items, including Edun outfits, Camper shoes, purses, belts and leather bags.
“We decided to put hidden secrets for women in the back,” he said.
When the couple opened their store, Foltyn said they thought their primary client would be a 25 to 40 year-old male professional.
“We’re blown away by the people who shop here,” he said. “We have people in their 50’s and 60’s wearing orange shoes and skull t-shirts. A lot of people who dress conservatively like to have one edgy piece that gives them a boost Ð to separate themselves from the rest.”
Peasant’s clothing is for men who care about their appearance but want to be comfortable, he said.
Peasant is very much a “guy store,” Foltyn said.
“We put in a tin ceiling. All of our clothes are hanging on plumbing pipes. We have large motorcycle billboards glued to the walls,” he said. “It’s very raw.”
Peasant is located at 205 E. Maple in Birmingham. Call them at 248-203-6470.