After a bit of a hiatus, men’s fashion is making a return to 206 Commercial Street in Nanaimo.
While previously a women’s boutique, the downtown Nanaimo storefront was the site of Ken Thompson Men’s Wear from 1957-99 and Rickwood’s Menswear from 1999-2009 and there was a gap, according to Leon Drzewiecki, owner of NYLA Fresh Thread, which currently occupies the space.
“We wanted to rekindle menswear in Nanaimo and bring it out and offer what the market’s kind of been missing,” Drzewiecki said. “So when we launched this, our idea for the whole thing was just having a local shop, everything, all the materials I used to build the shop I sourced locally.”
He said the tagline is fresh, classic and casual menswear; in other words, jeans, T-shirts, hoodies, dress shirts, dress pants and the associated accessories, such as belts, ties and even socks, given the recent trend for designer socks.
Drzewiecki also said he’s looking to get NYLA Fresh Thread’s name out there.
“I want to really focus on our brand personally. Not necessarily the brands we’re bringing in,” Drzewiecki said. “I want people to feel comfortable in the brand and know that we’re not selling overpriced clothes. A lot of times these small boutiques open up … and it’s out of the reach of everybody and the normal [price] range.”
He said T-shirts can range from $20 and up, jeans from $80 and dress shirts from $50.
Born and raised in Nanaimo, with a background in carpentry, Drzewiecki has an appreciation for building design, something he is parlaying into fashion. On top of graphic T-shirts bearing the store brand for men and women, there will be shirts featuring structures from the Harbour City’s past.
“For many years now, probably 15 years, I’ve wanted to graphic T-shirts and I really like architecture being a builder and being a carpenter, and I like to take a lot of the 100-year-old pictures of downtown Nanaimo, from Commercial Street, Wharf Street, Bastion Street … and get some of those pictures printed on T-shirts,” he said.
There will be limited and mass production runs and will be good for tourists and residents alike.
He said the pronunciation of the men’s clothier name is somewhat open to interpretation, but personally, he refers to it by separate letters, as opposed to “nie-luh” or New York to L.A.
“As of right now it’s NY, L.A. I kind of like a little bit of separation in it, just because it shows New York as business and L.A. as casual,” he explained.
As mentioned, Drzewiecki used locally-sourced products when renovating the store space, which he said is important.
Thirty-five-year-old fence board from Bowser and antlers from a hunter in Cedar (used for a chandelier) are amongst the items used.