The Makers: Stanley & Sons

Welcome to the first installment of the Makers Series. Over the next four weeks, I will be spotlighting some of my favorite brands in their own spaces, doing what they do best. First up, a visit to Brooklyn’s Stanley & Sons.

“Everyone has just been so nice.”

It was the day after the now infamous NYC blizzard (the first one) when I went to visit Stanley & Sons founder Chris Grodzki in his Williamsburg studio space. My mission was two-fold. One, attempt to document Chris in his work environment, and two, have Chris update my custom S&S bag from a tote to an overnighter. With my sister in tow, I wound my way single-file through the three foot high snowbanks lining the still bustling Bedford Avenue. After a turn and long walk down Grand, we finally arrived at our destination, a warehouse turned storage facility for a nearby architectural artifacts dealer. S&S was occupying the basement.

The Stanley & Sons space looks exactly how you’d imagine it. Reams of selvedge denim and waxed canvas, antique industrial-looking machinery, weathered work tables, country-fried folk music crackling softly through the air from a beat up old turntable – precisely the kind of workshop you’d hope a bag like S&S’ would come from. Chris immediately proved an exceedingly affable host, offering my sister and I tea, while helping us to settle in after our trudge through the urban tundra above. With coats off, and seats taken, he began to look over my bag. “I never get to see them again, after I send them out. This is great.” He stared quietly for another moment, silently appreciating what was in his hands, and then he got to work.

“People seem to really want to help. It’s been pretty amazing,” he tells me when I ask him about the brand’s success. “Everyone has just been so nice,” he says while affixing a grommet to the side of my bag. 2010 proved a year of incredible growth for the brand, seeing them acquire a handful of domestic and international stockists, receive tons of blog and print press, and take on a their first employee – a necessity to meet the demand. “It’s been great. That this is what I get to do every day.” He smiles, “I don’t totally believe it. I’m waiting for it to come to an end, because I don’t think it can last. But, that I even got to do this for just a little while. It’s great.”

He continues working, while my sister snaps photos. He and I joke about the inevitable bursting of the Heritage menswear bubble, and discuss our mutual interest in moving out of the urban environ. Finally, after a few final adjustments, and a quick fit test of the bag’s new shoulder strap, my updated S&S custom is complete, and so is our visit. I left as impressed with Chris’ workmanship as with his humility. It’s not surprising that everyone has been so nice. With bellies full of tea, and an iPhone full of photos, my sister and I returned to the arctic mess outside, feeling the warmest we had felt all day.

Chris’ grandfather, and Stanley & Sons namesake.

Forthcoming S&S bandannas.

The final result. And who says you can’t improve on perfection?

To order your own custom bag, visit Stanley & Sons.

  • J

    I’m also hoping to get a bag custom made from s&s, but their ordering system has very recently turned into something more “contemporary” which includes getting rid of the old-school fixed rates and custom ordering concept all together. A shame, since now there is nothing that sets them apart from loads of other competing brands with similar concept. I think there was also a hike on the prices, but I’m not sure. Anyway, would you please let me know roughly how much did everything cost for the bag pictured above? I’m going to send them an e-mail anyway and see if they are still accepting custom orders.

    • Brad

      @ J – I bought the bag almost three years ago so the price was lower then that it is now. Also, I got friends and fam discount. I’m not sure if they’ve phased out custom work completely. Definitely email them to find out.