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Hirshleifers Might Be the Best-Kept Secret in Menswear

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Hirshleifers Might Be the Best-Kept Secret in Menswear

Here’s a secret: next time you’re looking for some of the wildest, hyped-est, most over-the-top menswear on the entire Eastern seaboard, skip Soho. Skip Midtown. Skip Manhattan entirely! Make like I did and drive out to Hirshleifers, at the Americana Manhasset, which is on Long Island. This is not a drill.

Hirshleifers, co-CEO Caryn Hirshleifer tells me, had always done a serious women’s business—serious as in “Chanel employees have visited the Chanel shop-in-shop for research.” But the store couldn’t quite figure out the hook for its male clientele. So: how in the world did a family-owned boutique on Long Island become a jaw-dropping, candy-coated palace of menswear?

Racks on racks on racks.

Courtesy of Hirshleifers

The initial idea, David Sills explains, was to make a man cave. Sills runs the booming men’s department at Hirshleifers now, but back in 2010, he was just worried about making male shoppers feel comfortable.

“We thought it would appeal to that guy, but also [be] a place for a client’s husband,” Sills, dressed in what appears to be entirely black silk, blazer included, explains. Maybe you’ve been that guy: the one on the couch, noodling on your phone as your partner has all the fun. It sucks being that guy. So Sills got to work.

“That whole kind of heritage, Brooklyn, Old World thing was really starting to start to heat up,” he recalls. He stocked up on Red Wing boots, and Save Khaki pants, and kitted the whole thing out to cater to the guy who wanted to shop but was afraid to admit it. “We had instruments. We had incredible vintage drums. It was so cool. We had a bar, and we started serving shots, and we didn’t even know what we were onto,” he remembers. “I look back at that time—and God knows, the businesses is up 15x over that—but at the time, it was so cool. We opened on Black Friday, and somebody bought everything we had from Best Made—we didn’t know how to wrap an axe!”

But then something funny happened. Streetwear started burbling up into the conversation. Instagram exploded. And most curiously, male shoppers started coming into Hirshleifers and asking for higher-end brands: Lanvin, Givenchy, Saint Laurent. So Sills and the rest of the Hirshleifer family—he’s married to Lori; sisters Caryn and Shelley complete the fourth generation, and the sisters serve as co-CEOs—started to pivot. The exposed brick gave way to sleek marble. The vintage instruments were replaced with limited-edition Bearbricks, and a couple Damien Hirsts for good measure. The clothes got way fancier: when I visit, racks of Givenchy and Versace dominate the space, flecked with street-leaning stuff like John Elliott and Don C. The whole thing took off, Sills says, like a goddamn rocketship.

The Off-White space at Hirshleifers.

Courtesy of Hirshleifers

“We were trading two items that were $400 to two items that were $4,000 or $9,000. Men’s fashion just picked up in a ridiculous way, and our business went, company-wide, from about 1% to 1.5% to 20% of the overall mix. We’ve seen a meteoric growth.”

It’s not slowing down: Ronnie Fieg opened an outpost of Kith here. Virgil Abloh drops exclusive gear from a “bedroom” he’s set up in Off-White’s corner of the store. Hirshleifers, Sills and Caryn tell me in the store’s quiet VIP room, will be one of two non-Chanel doors in the country to receive the Chanel’s Pharrell collaboration, in case you’re looking for embroidered purple hoodies, sunglasses, and furry green bags, all adorned with the phrase “CHANEL PHARRELL.”

Standing on the astroturf in the store’s Celine section—you can still see the mark on the wall where the accent aigu was removed by decree of Hedi Slimane—Caryn Hirshleifer tells the family story.

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