Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Le'TALK: l'etoile interviews BlackBlue's Steve Kang

by Jahna Peloquin

The Twin Cities newest men's boutique BlackBlue provides local mensfolk with a long-needed beacon of style that is cutting-edge yet accessible enough to make the coasts raise impressed eyebrows and your typical CC Club-goer throw down some cash. We chatted with man-about-town and BlackBlue owner Steve Kang about why he opened the shop, his background, and what we can expect.

[Image provided by BlackBlue]

JP: What inspired you to open your own boutique?

SK: I’ve always been a dabbler in design, so at first I wanted to find a studio space for myself and my friend, Claudette, but then on a whim we decided to throw a clothing shop into the mix since the original focus was on designing clothing. It was also out of frustration because there aren’t many small, nicely edited shops that cater to men in the Twin Cities.

Tell us a little about your professional background.

Hmm, let’s see. I’ve worked a variety of jobs, including working in a Psych Ward, Midwest Mountaineering and a toy manufacturing company called Q-BA-MAZE. I also play music in my friend’s project called Dewi Sant. I am currently finishing an MBA at the University of Minnesota. I guess that’s my professional background.

[Image provided by BlackBlue]

We know you carry primarily menswear, but can the ladies shop there, too?

We carry clothing, footwear and bags primarily designed for men but women have no problem walking out of the store with some of these items for themselves. We’re seeing that more and more women are turning to menswear, which is great for us. We also have women’s footwear and some unisex basics. We certainly don’t consider BlackBlue just a clothing store, so we are always looking for other well-made things that appeal to our aesthetic sensibilities. For example, right now, we are featuring a series of antiquarian bird prints that are to die for in our humble opinion.

What are some of the brands you carry?

I would describe the style of what we carry as mostly Americana. We are fans of classic brands that are making a youthful comeback like Filson, Woolrich and Pendleton. We also love Fred Perry and Original Penguin. For newer labels, we look for designers who are rethinking the classics without butchering them. This means no embroidered or silk printed anything anywhere. Hyden Yoo, Shades of Greige, Corpus are among our favorites. We try to find pieces of a certain understated cool. For footwear, we like casual and sporty shoes, like Generic Surplus and Tretorn.

[Image provided by BlackBlue]

Thursday night, Kang and co. host its grand opening in style with wine, hors d'oeuvres and music. (7-10 p.m. 614 Selby Av., St. Paul.)

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