I’m doing a kind of staycation at the moment, and we are currently staying with my sister-in-law who lives near the city. Even though we don’t live that far from the Sydney CBD, we don’t visit the city that often, so it was a great opportunity to visit some interesting stores Sydney has to offer.
My first stop was to seek out The Big Trouble Store. This little gem was not easy to find, tucked in the Summit Arcade next to some Asian convenience stores. The store was not as big as I imagined, given the range of stock on offer on the website, but boy was it chock full of awesomeness! Engineered Garments, Orslow, Post Overalls, Doek, Lady White Co., 3Sixteen – every garment I picked up was well-made and interesting. Think military-inspired/workwear/streetwear often with an Americana bent and Japanese quality.
I had a nice chat with Chris, the owner of Big Trouble, about the current state of menswear in Australia. Unfortunately fast fashion still rules and most guys are still after the cheap and disposable. However Chris has his niche customers and they seek him out as I have because there just aren’t that many brick and mortar shops in Sydney selling this kind of quality items (the Standard Store in Surry Hills and the Up There Store in Melbourne are the only two other stockists of Engineered Garments). Japanese sizing can be tricky when ordering online, and it really helps to try on some of the more interesting pieces rather than just visualise it in your head.
I ended up walking away with an olive green Bedford jacket from EG. The Bedford is EG’s signature and the olive version, made of ripstop cotton, really toes the line between being a sportcoat and military outerwear. The four patch pockets, materials, removable buttons, and stitching all evoke military jackets like the M-43 or M-65, but the peak lapels give it a certain jarring formality. The jacket is unlined and would work well in warmer weather. It is a very easy jacket to wear in today’s dressed-down standards, and can be paired with t-shirt and denim or a button-up shirt and chinos. I was also coveting an Orslow denim chore jacket with corduroy lapels (but I thought I had spent enough money) and a Lady White Co. t-shirt (but didn’t have my size).
I couldn’t resist splurging on a pair of Chup socks though. These are made on a low gauge stocking frame machine which create the beautiful patterns. The process also means they can only make about 20-25 pairs a day. They pair really well with boots, heavier sneakers, and chunky casual shoes like wallabees. Mine look awesome with my Yuketen Maine Guide Ox Flesh Out moccasins.
All in all, my experience at Big Trouble was fantastic. Chris is enthusiastic and knows his clothes and the store is a curation of high quality products. Definitely worth finding this place and I think I will be a return customer!
Wandering through the Strand Arcade is like going back through time. Established in 1891, there were definitely some cool stores to visit. The first place I set foot in was Vintage Watch Co. They stock a lot of cool vintage watches and I semi-regularly visit their website to check out what’s on offer (couldn’t hurt to just look, right?). They are also one of the few dealers around Sydney to stock Grand Seiko’s which have only started selling outside of the Japanese domestic market fairly recently. These beauties definitely give the lofty Swiss watch industry a run for its money in quality and craftsmanship. I am currently tossing up between one of these and an explorer to add to my collection.
Men’s Biz is also located in the Strand and they stock a healthy amount of men’s grooming products like shaving implements, hair products, etc. I was immediately drawn to the safety razors as I’m a single-blade guy myself. There were also two guys having a shave with a good old fashioned single blade. If you have not tried it yourself, I will be writing a post soon on my experiences with wet shaving. I also spotted some quality pomades like Layrite (which I find to be one of the best for my hair type) and Reuzel (which my friend recommends as the best he has ever used).
My day has given me hope that there are still some pretty special stores in Sydney and it ain’t all just Uniqlo and H&M. You just gotta know where to look…