Philly Menswear Guide


Here is a general shopping map and guide for Center City Philadelphia you may find useful if you're unfamiliar with the area. Philly is generally a very walkable city, and most stores are within a 20-30 minute walk or a short ride east-west on the Septa Market Frankford Line. The city is broken up into several neighborhoods, with the majority of shopping clustered around Rittenhouse, west of Broad Street and City Hall. There are a lot of stores spread out throughout the city, however, so if you're looking for something particular you can check the list below or just look at the map for what is close to the neighborhoods you find yourself in. 

Please note that Northern Liberties and Fishtown, a few up-and-coming areas north of Center City, are conspicuously missing from this guide. You can get there traveling east on the Market Frankford Line, but I don't have enough personal experience with the area to include them here. It would also be grossly negligent not to mention King of Prussia Mall, about a 30-40 minute drive from Center City, which is the premier shopping area in the greater Philadelphia area and offers a large selection of luxury retailers as well as standard mall fare.

For map use, you can bring up the legend using the "->" indicator on the top left and expand the store lists below. Alternatively, open the entire map in a new tab using the "[ ]" indicator at the top right of the map for a better view.


Brand Retail Stores


Rittenhouse houses the main strip of retail stores in Center City. Start on Broad and Walnut St and walk west towards Rittenhouse Square. Once you get there, take a right and then come back east on Chestnut to give you almost the full breadth of retail shopping in the district.


Walnut Street

  • Banana Republic ($$) - One time safari-outfitter-turned-general-consumer-fashion. Standard casual and work attire well known to most men. Mens department downstairs (one of the larger selections in the area).
  • Barbour ($$$) - British heritage wear, famous for waxed cotton garments. Highlights include the International, Ashby and Bedale, but they also run decent seasonal sales and produce  nice collaboration lines with other brands.
  • Bonobos Guideshop ($$) - An interesting and unusual retail concept. You come in, associates guide you to check out what you like and see what fits you, and your selections are shipped to your home.
  • Brooks Brothers ($$$) - Historically one of America's greatest and classic menswear stores. Service at this location can be hit or miss. 
  • Diesel ($$$) - Diesel built its name on jeans and a kind of young, LA rocker aesthetic. Suffers from an artificial feel to its distressing and a lack of refinement.
  • Express ($$) - "Modern" menswear made cheaply and with a penchant for unbecoming, extraneous frills. Some swear by their modern fit shirts.
  • Gap ($) - Simple basics, decent denim quality on sale.
  • H&M ($) - Fast fashion giant, poor materials and construction but very affordable for students or those on a tight budget.
  • Jack Wills ($$) - Youthful British wear.
  • Lucky Brand ($$) - Previously known for house label jeans, now makes mostly generic American casual fare.
  • rag & bone ($$$) - Refined basics, urban casual wear and denim.
  • Theory ($$$) - Minimalist design, slim silhouette.
  • Urban Outfitters ($$) - Eclectic, young urban streetwear.
  • Vince ($$$) - "New York chic, L.A. cool," whatever that means. Refined basics, fairly minimalist aesthetic.
  • Zara ($$) - At the vanguard of fast fashion, trendy higher level designer aesthetics at budget prices, but generally poorly constructed from poor materials.

Chestnut Street

  • American Eagle ($) - Standard affordable casual wear for the younger man.
  • H&M ($) - Second location, see above.
  • J. Crew ($$) - Famous for popularizing prep style for the current generation before recently falling out of vogue, the Wallace & Barnes line is an especially good value for vintage/workwear-inspired clothing, moderate selection of menswear (compared to King of Prussia location).
  • Mitchell & Ness ($$) - Classic sportswear and team apparel.
  • Old Navy ($) - Lowest rung on the Banana Republic/Gap/Old Navy ladder. Very affordable, but poorest construction/materials of the three with the blandest design.
  • Uniqlo ($) - Highly recommended for affordable and approachable basics, and a surprisingly good denim value. Uniqlo truly has something for everyone.

Outlets


At the moment, there are three large outlets in Center City, not counting the Banana Republic Factory/Gap Outlets. Two are very close together on the main shopping strip on Chestnut St. The third, Century 21, is on the way to Old City but worth a trip in itself if outlet shopping is your interest - especially during end of season clearance sales. Construction on another large outlet mall is also underway on Market Street where The Gallery used to be, slated to finish within the next few years. If you've never shopped at an outlet before, they are mostly filled with outlet-specific stock, but there are also very good finds if you're patient and know how to look for them.

Outside of Center City, you'll also find Franklin Mills (Saks Off 5th, Neiman Marcus Last Call + some brand outlets) and Premium Outlets (Last Call + brand outlets) within reasonable driving distance.

  • Bloomingdales Outlet - A good selection of Persol sunglasses and Ray Bans, menswear stock includes Naked & Famous, Todd Snyder, rag & bone, Steven Alan, Polo Ralph Lauren and Black Label, Wings & Horns. Clearance section can be a very good value at end of season, especially at extra 40-50% off, though quality stock is generally on the scarcer side and filled mostly with filler outlet brands.
  • Century 21 - The best outlet in Center City for higher end designers. Past stock includes Burberry Prorsum, Maison Margiela, Rick Owens, Kato, Ermenegildo Zegna, Private White V.C., Giorgio Armani, Baldwin, Levi's Vintage Clothing, Alex Mill, all at a much higher density than the other outlets listed here. End of season (summer and winter) sales hit up to 85-90% off. Persol sunglasses are the lowest price in the city ($79.99 polarized folding 714s, for example).
  • Nordstrom Rack - Standard outlet, national holidays usually see extra 25% off clearance, which is the biggest additional discount you can expect aside from simply cutting prices periodically. Prior stock includes Barbour, Belstaff, Nudie, Wolverine, Red Wing Heritage, Allen Edmonds (mostly outlet models), Apolis, but the store is also stocked with a moderate amount of filler - somewhere in between the density of Bloomingdales Outlet and C21.
  • Gap/Banana Republic Outlets - I have these listed on the map, but be aware that brand retail factory/outlet merchandise is made up almost entirely of grossly inferior product relative to mainline stores. Not recommended unless you are on a very tight budget - even then, you can usually do just as well at a mainline store if you're patient.


Boutiques


Philadelphia has a small number of boutique shops spread out within the city as well.
  • Lapstone and Hammer - Nice retail space with a special focus on denim, footwear, and some cool collaborations with local brands.
  • P's and Q's - Located on South St, a well-curated blend of brands you may not see otherwise in the city (The Hill-Side, Norse Projects, Penfield, etc.).
  • Totem Brand - Another South Street establishment, more workwear and denim-centric with brands like Red Wing Heritage, Engineered Garments, 3Sixteen, Alden, Barbour, and Gitman Vintage.
  • Joan Shepp - High end designer boutique in the Rittenhouse area across from Boyd's. Small selection of menswear from designers such as Dries Van Noten, Maison Margiela, Junya Watanabe, Sacai, Yohji Yamamoto, etc.
  • SUGARCUBE - A shop seemingly born from the soul of Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Brands include A.P.C., Williamsburg Garment Company, Red Wing Heritage, Wolf vs. Goat, and SUGARCUBE house brand.
  • Art in the Age of Mechanical Reproduction - An interesting multipurpose boutique, carrying an array of products including menswear from fledgling denim brands, Gitman Vintage, Penfield, glasses from Warby Parker, liquor, and a small selection of vintage clothing in the back racks. I once went into the store and they had a section where baby chicks were being hatched.

Vintage and Secondhand/Thrift Shops

Briar Vintage Warehouse Studio
  • Briar Vintage and Briar Vintage Warehouse Studio - The best true vintage menswear store in the greater Philadelphia area, if not much farther. The main store is located right off of South St, but if you have the means to travel, on Saturdays the warehouse studio at 4324 Tackawanna St (15 minute drive northeast) is open to the public and highly recommended to check out if you appreciate vintage clothing and accessories.
  • Buffalo Exchange - The best thrift shop in Center City, which is not saying much at all. Stock is 95% mall brand clothing from stores located on the surrounding blocks, but the store has a fairly quick turnover of stock and the occasional real gem. Prior finds include RRL, Dries Van Noten, Barbour Norton and Sons, LBM 1911, Beams +, Ralph Lauren Black Label.
  • I. Goldberg Army & Navy - Not a true thrift store per se, but located in the basement is a large selection of surplus Army/Navy goods at extremely cheap prices. For less dumpster diving and a higher density of keepers, Briar Vintage has much better vintage militaria (at a higher cost).
  • Greene Street - South street thrift shop, small stock selection.
  • Philly AIDS Thrift - A real thrift store carrying everything from clothing to books, stereos to furniture. Menswear stock is historically low.
  • Sophisticated Seconds - Very small secondhand shop on the west border of Rittenhouse. Seems to have one of the smallest amounts of stock, with the slowest turnover.

Department Stores


Center City has a surprisingly small amount of department stores. If you're looking for a Nordstrom, Neiman Marcus, Saks, etc. your best move is to head to King of Prussia (about a 30-40 minute drive from CC), or Cherry Hill, NJ (about 20 minute drive east from CC).

  • Boyds - High end multi-floor department store. Brands include Brunello Cucinelli, Armani, Canali, Kiton, Isaia, and Brioni, among other brands and their own MTM suiting service.
  • Macy's - A lower/medium tier Macy's in terms of designers, with some of the better brands carried being Polo RL and Levi's, to give you some indication of quality. But the Wanamaker Building, a designated historic national landmark, built in 1911 is worth the visit itself, featuring a beautifully restored interior with one of the largest pipe organs in the world, and a centerpiece eagle statue from the St. Louis World's Fair adorning a gorgeous atrium space filled with regrettable Michael Kors watches and Uggs.

Wanamaker Building Atrium

Footwear


  • Allen Edmonds - Entry-level gold standard to the goodyear-welted market. Perennial favorites include the Fifth Ave, Park Ave, Dalton boot, and Strand.
  • Camper - "Contemporary design, unconventional spirit." Never stepped foot inside the store before, but I get the same type of visceral feeling from their shoes that I get from Crocs.
  • Cole Haan - Lower end dress shoes and boots retailer previously owned by Nike, typically cemented construction, leather quality not in range of competition such as Allen Edmonds. Cole Haan's claim to fame is fairly traditional last forms and uppers married with athletic shoe soles in the ugliest manner possible. Beloved by many men that do not love shoes.
  • Common Ground - A newer sneakerhead consignment store, packed wall to wall with shrink-wrapped sneakers.
  • Dr. Martens - Iconic footwear brand best known for their chunky silhouetted shoe and work boot.
  • ToBox - Newly renovated, high-end boutique owned and operated by Tung To, previous head of Boyd's shoe department for many years. Brands include John Lobb, Carmina, Di Bianco, Carlos Santos, and some tailored clothing and accessories as well. Mr. To is a pleasure to visit and chat with.
  • Sherman Bros - An old staple on the Philadelphia footwear scene, and one of the largest selections of Aldens in the city.
  • Ubiq - The sneakerhead store in Philly, also features a good selection of streetwear and apparel upstairs.
  • Vans - Classic American sneaker brand. Young men seem to be very into the Sk8 Hi at the moment.

Suiting

Suitsupply Philadelphia

Recently, a lot of suiting outfits have opened in Philadelphia, serving all range of clientele. A few words of caution - most men will fit off-the-rack suiting reasonably well, to the degree that going made-to-measure (MTM) actually involves potentially more risk than reward. Most men assume that "custom" or "made-to-measure" automatically results in a better fitting suit than you can buy off-the-rack. This is not always the case. Aside from off-the-rack retailers, most - if not all - of the "custom" shops found below are made-to-measure, to the best of my knowledge. I would suggest caution with any shop using the word "bespoke" as it seems to be thrown around a lot these days without the requisite work to back it up. "Bespoke" is essentially the Kobe beef of menswear.

  • Suitsupply - Predominantly half-canvassed suiting and menswear, surprisingly classic design and proportions with a large amount of different fit profiles and interesting fabrics. Best black tie kit available for the money anywhere. Best value for money in off-the-rack suiting. Also offers MTM if desired. Does not run traditional sales, but periodically will open an online outlet with very good prices (hard to predict). Highly recommended.
  • J. Crew - Ludlow and Crosby lines (slim and athletic fit), half-canvassed, recently more balanced/wider lapel designs, a good value on sale.
  • Indochino - One of the earliest and most successful MTM suiting companies. Mixed reviews over the course of their tenure.
  • My.Suit - Another MTM startup seemingly in the same vein as Indochino.
  • Jos. A. Bank - A fitting description. JAB apparently carries a few decent products (like affordable shoe trees), but you wouldn't know it from the way they market themselves.
  • Commonwealth Proper - One of the more interesting MTM labels in the city for sure, with a stronger aesthetic point of view, priced at a premium. Suiting is/was supposedly manufactured by Martin Greenfield's factory in NY.
  • Henry A. Davidsen - "Master Tailors & Image Consultants" is the slogan for this Rittenhouse tailoring shop (part of a nationwide chain). Interestingly, they seem to offer a wide spectrum of products all the way from fused suits to bespoke work (and custom jeans - don't get too excited, the product picture is not encouraging from a denimhead perspective). They have plenty of stock photos on their Yelp page, including their CEO dressed in a poor example of black tie by classical standards.
  • Mens Warehouse - Apparently the half-canvassed line of Joseph Abboud suits are not bad, but MW has historically always been more on the Jos. A. Bank end of the spectrum than Suitsupply. They also rent black tie ensembles, which I'd advise should be buried deep in a landfill if I wasn't also concerned they would never biodegrade.
  • Ernesto Custom Tailors - Per feedback in years past, a MTM outfit masquerading as true bespoke (though no personal experience here, keep in mind). Some horror stories from the more experienced guys on the net (Styleforum and Ask Andy About Clothes). Yelp reviews seem to like them, but they all sound like they have little to no experience with MTM tailoring or suiting in general, as well as often commissioning peacocky #menswear outfits.
  • Enzo Custom Tailors - MTM chain with other branches in NYC, DC, Chicago, and Beverly Hills. Supposedly Made in China (like most value MTM operations - though I'd also point out Suitsupply has factories in China). Mixed reviews online.
  • Macy's Bar III - Praised by those on a strict budget and a tight timeline in Reddit's Malefashionadvice forum. I should note that, while they may provide a decent "stand in" for a suit if you're young and on a budget, they are not an actual competitor for the most of the other suiting companies on this list.

Tailors


Philadelphia Tailors are a mixed bag, and most are coupled with dry cleaning businesses. I've had good results with Centofanti tailors outside the city for serious tailored work in the past, but here are the other ones I've used in Center City.

  • Master Tailor - One of the best reviewed tailors in Philadelphia, a Korean couple (wife seems to manage the shop, husband does the tailoring) + small dog that sleeps in the corner. Adept at basic alterations at the least (slanted/military hem, buttons, waist alterations) and also advertises jeans repair, though I have not used them for more extensive work myself.
  • Royal Custom Tailor - Run by another very nice Korean gentleman Mr. Chun, the only one in the area who was able to make a hand-stitched buttonhole for me (actually a harness slot for my dog's Barbour jacket. Yeah, you read that right). Fair warning, he is frequently behind schedule and takes cash only, so allow plenty of lead time.

Miscellaneous


Rikumo

Here are a few stores that don't fit into the other categories but are otherwise worth mentioning.

  • Govberg Watches - Great selection of timepieces and the best stock in the city. For more watch porn, visit King of Prussia (Tourneau, Omega, Cartier). For used watches, check out Jewelers Row in Washington Square/Society Hill.
  • Rikumo - A charming home store on Walnut St. with an array of cleanly designed and beautiful Japan-made items. If you do not feel more peaceful just standing in the store, you are a psychopath.
  • Warby Parker - A sizable retail space for the optical company that took the industry by storm. Note that if you own Warby Parker glasses and need them adjusted, they can do it in the store for you very easily.

Warby Parker on Walnut Street

Cheesesteaks



What would any guide to Philadelphia be without a cheesesteak section? It wouldn't. If you've never had a Philly cheesesteak, you can order any standard topping like onions, mushrooms, or peppers, and any type of cheese as long as it's Cheez Whiz. Once you get the hang of it, the local order is "one Whiz with" or "one Whiz without," which denotes a standard cheesesteak with or without fried onions. If you get provolone, just know that I know, and I am deeply disappointed.

*Update 7/13/17* - This section of the guide has become the most hotly contested and controversial. There are, as many have pointed out, a lot more places with a good cheesesteak. The ones below are simply some of the more famous and easy to access in Center City.
  • Pat's and Geno's - Pat's and Gino's are located next to each other in South Philly close to the Italian Market, probably the most famous of the cheesesteak joints in Philadelphia. I should note that Geno's had a sign up for ten years that read "This is AMERICA. When ordering, speak English," but recently took it down after the owner died and his son took over. That may not bother you, but it might for others. Also, out of the OG cheesesteak joints, I much prefer Jims personally (below).
  • John's Roast Pork - Also a bit out of the way, but highly regarded as one of the top cheesesteak spots around.
  • Jim's - On South Street, close to Briar Vintage if you're in the area. The bread is probably their strong point. You can also enjoy the wall-to-wall pictures of celebrities that have eaten there. For an extra Philly experience, get a slice of Lorenzo's pizza, wrap it around your cheesesteak, and you now are the proud owner of a "Philly Taco."
  • Tony Luke's - A little farther away on E. Oregon or N. Broad, they also make a great roast pork. You can get sharp provolone on that one.
  • Steve's - Located conveniently on Chestnut St in Center City, my personal favorite as the steak isn't chopped up quite as thin. You order your cheesesteak in one line, and drinks/fries in the other. Because.

Comments

  1. Great roundup. Thank you for including SUGARCUBE.

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    Replies
    1. Thanks for reading, and glad you're with us in Philly. Would love to see Old City start attracting more small businesses.

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