Editor’s note: For more details on part 1 of this trip, click here.
When I first got word that a big group of friends was heading to Detroit to ring in the new year (and watch our alma mater Michigan State play in the College Football Playoff), I knew I had to make the trip — even after being on the road in Florida just a few days before. While I was definitely disappointed in Michigan State’s loss in the College Football Playoff, I wasn’t disappointed at all with the rest of my time in Detroit. The city has been the subject of tons of national headlines for its economic woes, and certain parts of the city are definitely still feeling that blight (I’ll leave it to the experts to talk more about that). Even still, there are plenty of cultural and economic bright spots that, at least outwardly, are helping put the city back on the map — and yes, as with any trip, there’s plenty of great menswear to go along with that.
For a quick flight to Detroit and a brief afternoon of exploration before kicking off the New Year’s Eve festivities, I layered up with my Todd Shelton chambray shirt, my trusty Pistol Lake henley and some skinny Fulton chinos from Banana Republic (also seen in the photo at the top of the page). The outfit was versatile and comfortable, and it made for some quick walking to the nearby John Varvatos shop, a large installment that pays homage to both the designer’s Detroit roots and the brand’s deep love for the rock music industry. The clothing and the shop itself definitely have a substantial rock n’roll vibe, which suits some but can be a bit much for my taste. However, the shop is impressively merchandised and also has a great selection of audio and music equipment for sale.
A walk by some other notable downtown sites (including The Fillmore, Comerica Park and Ford Field), ate up the rest of the afternoon before game time (definitely a different change of pace on New Year’s Eve!). With a few quick changes (namely, throwing on my JackThreads Fisherman Cardigan and swapping out the henley), I was ready for the rest of the night. Detroit’s Greektown district was buzzing with activity and a fitting place to catch the game — that is, until things turned south for our beloved Spartans. Try as we might, that did put a bit of a damper on the new year, but the Firebird Tavern was still a fun spot to check out, and worthy of a trip if you find yourself in Greektown.
A hearty brunch to kick off the new year was in order, and the Hudson Café definitely delivered in that regard — the rest of the large crowd gathered there thought so, too. Staying cozy and comfortable was also in order to start the new year, and my JackThreads Collegiate Bomber — plus some striped American Trench socks and my Bonobos French Terry Sweatpants— proved more than up to the task. My Reef Outhaul Lux Chukka Sneakers were also minimal, comfortable and stylish — exactly the type of sneaker you should reach for if you decide pair them with tapered sweatpants on a cold day off. New Year’s Day football was definitely a treat (although not as fun as an MSU win would’ve been!), and our dinner plans led us to the Cornerstone Barrel House, a tap house equal parts rugged-and-refined that offers some delicious local beer and tasty bites.
A great dinner and a relaxing night was crucial, as I got out the door to see the rest of Detroit’s #menswear scene on Saturday. That included a stop by the revered Shinola store — coming from someone who loves the brand’s NYC store, it was a real treat to be able to see what the brand can do with more real estate, and in its hometown. Shinola really is continuing to cement its legacy in the Detroit area — the installation of the brand’s own watch dial production facility in its flagship store is nearly complete, and it’s got that Detroit work ethic down pat. It’s great news in the meantime that Shinola offers up other great goods, like American-made journals and an entire assortment of bicycles. Plus, the on-site coffee shop is a key pit stop before exploring other nearby haunts, like Willys Detroit — a sister shop of Shinola that’s packed to the brim with rugged menswear from Filson, Steven Alan and Apolis, plus women’s apparel & accessories. It’s also worth a visit, if only to enjoy the impressive retail experience rather than purchase something.
No stop along that stretch is complete without stopping into the brand-new physical outpost of Third Man Records, another offshoot of the record company founded by Detroit rocker Jack White — if you’re a fan of rock music, or just the art of vinyl and music-making in general, it’s a must-visit. We also took the time to swing by Atwater Brewery on Saturday night, an expansive waterfront location serving up delicious staples like its famous Vanilla Java Porter and the equally tasty Pheasant Hog, a rich brown ale. It’s great to be able to see businesses continue to dedicate time and resources to bringing back Detroit, through both retail and music experiences, plus delicious food and drink — all are necessary for travelers and locals alike!
A busy end to a busy weekend was capped off on Sunday with a stop by Will Leather Goods, another business with deep, decades-old Detroit roots that’s a new addition to the city’s Midtown neighborhood. The entire store is nearly a work of art, packed with everything from excellent leather messenger bags to vintage finds like barber’s chairs and a massive teepee (yes, a teepee). To explore that part of town, I reached for my sturdy Mott & Bow Norfolk raw denim — it’s one pair of jeans that’s breaking in quite nicely, and the heavier weight made them more than ideal for the chilly weather Detroit threw at us. A striped henley from J. Crew and my ever-reliable Todd Shelton chambray shirt, plus my dependable Invicta Pro Diver, helped me tackle both my final hours in Detroit and travel back to NYC on Monday morning (those flight delays always seem to catch up with me!).
It was tough to say goodbye to great friends and an unexpectedly awesome city filled with some terrific shopping and a steady cultural scene. Were I to visit again (and I’ll be back!), I’d love to check out the Detroit Institute of Art, and some other similar spots. Although some parts of Detroit still leave something to be desired (to say the least), there’s no question that the right businesses and people are around to continue to drive the city forward — and those same businesses would definitely make it worth a trip for you… although might I suggest a stop when it’s warm?
Until I hit the road again — stay stylish!