Remember last year’s Glimmer pop-up by Charm on 2nd’s Chatham Hellmers? It won’t be around this holiday season, but a more permanent retail situation has taken its place. Brandon Hays opened Artefact Supply downtown this fall. Besides adding more sidewalk shopping, the store helps define a Loft District aesthetic.
With its cozy settee and an Oriental rug lounging across from the clothing displays, it’s easy to imagine this shop as a throwback to the district’s original commercial tenants. Artefact Supply’s menswear-only mission adds to that sensibility, creating the feel of a small tailor’s shop, for instance, rather than a modern boutique.
Labels here lean toward indie design, including the Florence-based Billy Reid. In fact, Reid was a major formative influence for Hays, according to the shop website. Drawn to the “timeless, classic styles and quality, craftsmanship” the label represented, Brandon began approaching his closet with that same eye. But he couldn’t find the kinds of clothes he was looking for locally and found online shopping uninspiring. He set about solving the problem for himself and others with Artefact Supply.
The shop was originally scheduled for the Box Row project in Avondale, but we think its final downtown location is a more perfect fit. With an indie aesthetic, booming food scene, and general loft-ness, it would be easy to categorize downtown as another Birmingham “Brooklyn.” But there’s a definite aesthetic that sets downtown apart, a distinct sense of polish. In fact, the combination of fancy architectural influences and nearby big business feels more New Orleans Central Business District to us.
The neighborhood is both humbly bespoke and also a little bit grand, from Heidi Elnora’s new atelier to the prevalence of Alabama marble. With its rich leather goods and fine knitwear, Artefact Supply fits both parts of the downtown style brief.