The Magic of Magasin

The former Bloomingdale’s men’s fashion director strikes out on his own.

 

Racked
November 29, 2016
By Chris Black

Josh Peskowitz, the former men’s fashion director at Bloomingdale’s and a true menswear legend, surprised everyone by decamping to the West Coast last year. He left to open his first store, Magasin, in Culver City, California. It’s a place for men who might want to learn more about their clothing and how it is made — but ultimately, it’s a place for men who want to buy something cool.

“Look, I never thought that if I was going to leave New York it would be for Los Angeles,” Peskowitz insists. After all, Peskowitz was born in Brooklyn and raised in Washington, DC — he’s an East Coast lifer. When he was still a student at the University of Delaware, he fell into a job at The Fader, where he got a crash course in styling and writing.

He then went to Cargo, working under Bergdorf Goodman‘s men’s fashion director Bruce Pask. Then it was onto Esquire and Style.com’s men’s section, which later would melt into working for GQ’s online team. He then took a position at Gilt Groupe, where he was tasked with launching an editorial men’s site called Park & Bond. It got off the ground, but never really found its footing and was shut down after a little over a year. His last job working for someone else was also his most high-profile gig to date, serving as the men’s fashion director of Bloomingdale’s, where he kept the storied retailer’s men’s business interesting and cool.

In March 2016, along with his partners and co-owners of the showroom CD Network Christophe Desmaison and Simon Golby, Peskowitz opened Magasin in a 1,600-square-foot space on Washington Boulevard in Culver City. It’s situated within the Platform, a modern industrial new development that features a colorful mural by LA-based artist Jen Stark on its facade. Platform has 50,000 square feet of retail and restaurant space that houses stores like Aesop, Linda Farrow, and The Shop, a collaborative retailer between Tom Dixon and Curve that combines furniture, clothing, and food. You can take a Soulcycle class, get a salad at Sweetgreen, and have a latte from Blue Bottle Coffee all without leaving the grounds.

When I sit with Peskowitz for lunch at Lukshon a few blocks away from Magasin, he is relaxed and happy talking shop. “It’s primarily Italian and Japanese brands with attention to tailored clothing,” he said. “Then we have some more off-the-wall shit, but when we merchandise the store, we try to put it all in context." That means the Japanese label Camoshita sits next to Salvatore Piccolo, which hails from Italy. Throw in Levi’s, X-Large, and Yuketen, and the selection is fun and eclectic. “We’re not selling things that are flash-in-the-pans,” he said. “None of this shit is going out of style anytime soon, it’s about building that wardrobe long-term. The only two things that matter when it comes to men’s clothing are craftsmanship and innovation. That’s where good stories come from. If you’re going to be investing in clothing, you want to know why."

Peskowitz and his partners are also collaborating with brands on pieces that are only available at Magasin. One of those collaborators is Ermanno Lazzarin, who owns an innovative men’s shop located on Corso Como in Milan called Eral 55. Lazzarin is a fourth generation tailor who uses deadstock fabrics to create special one-of-a-kind pieces. “We go see him in Milan, we pick out fabrics, and he manufactures something just for our store,” he said. “It might be four-of-a-kind. You'll never see that jacket again. That is a reason to buy a jacket. It's special.”

I ask why he chose Culver City — a neighborhood not known as a shopping destination, like Beverly Hills, Melrose Place, or even the more hipster Silver Lake. There are two reasons that Culver City is working out just fine, though. The first is Peskowitz’s status as a full-blown menswear gawd. “The people who are interested in what we are doing are going to come see us,” he explained. “We’ve got people coming from Brentwood, Santa Monica, Venice.” The second is that the neighborhood is actually surprisingly fertile ground for a shop selling to people who work in creative environments and have the cash to spend on nice (read: pricey) clothes. “In Culver City, there are a lot of media companies, creative agencies, and architecture firms. Those people are the ones who I think would have the most natural inclination toward the kind of clothes we are selling."

When the conversation turns toward trends and what is happening in the industry today, Peskowitz, a street style star so bright a Vogue headline referred to him simply as that, is still very much paying attention while on the West Coast. “I actually think we have entered a post-trend era,” he says. “The internet has decoupled image from meaning, particularly when you are talking about social media. Kids are inundated with all of these influential images, but they don’t really know where they came from. In a way, that’s really disconcerting, but in another way, it really has a lot of freedom to it.” But overall, Peskowitz is positive and energized by seeing more people taking risks. “People are choosing their own adventure much more than they ever have before,” he said.

The experimentation allows for small independent stores like Magasin to try new ideas that larger retailers can’t because their bottom line is volume. With Magasin, Peskowitz is offering more than a place to get dressed — he is offering personality and an inventive point of view.