Machus — A Burnside Profile

Fashion

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Words by Taylor Dent — Photographs by Ryan Fish

Justin Machus opened his eponymous store in 2011 as an antidote to Portland’s “heritage” look. Barely two years later, Machus continues to fill the niche for beyond-to-the-basics menswear, emerging as a hub for the minimalist lifestyle with an inventory informed by modern athleticism. Each artifact in the Burnside store is stripped to its essential form, with designers who favor fit over embellishment. The store carries progressive brands—Rick Owens, Isaora, Robert Geller—and with the addition of Hood by Air, Machus will be the only store in the Northwest to sell the New York street wear brand. But Machus is evolving as a retailer wants more direct involvement with his designers and manufacturers.

“We’re looking for brands with a personal connection”, says Machus. This fall, his selections are ADYN and Chapter, both operated by friends dedicated to innovative design. Retailers rarely invest in young designers, often opting for established brands which sell based on their exclusivity. But if the turnout for Chapter’s launch party is an indication, the Portland crowd thrives on these in-store events and desires to expand beyond the cult brand.

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By keeping these brands in the family, the industry veteran is keenly aware of the manufacturer’s practices. Despite claiming that he’s “not a designer”, praise is high for Machus’ collaboration with friend B. Scott for the second round of their in house label. Scott sources the materials in downtown Los Angeles, where he oversees production of the limited number of tees and sweatshirts. The duo upgrades basics to affordable luxuries with FW 13’ reflecting a more urban design. Machus shows me images of their “Anniversary Jersey” on his phone, which will be sold as part of November’s two year celebration.

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Machus wants to acquaint customers with these smaller brands through the retail experience. The interior of the store is an interactive one: you’re invited to touch, smell, and admire each product. A central table holds soft caps by Prism, OAK glasses and Machus’ own cologne, a project with Imaginary Authors’ founder Josh Meyer. But where Machus has the most pride is with the racks on clothing. The apparel is classic and modern, primarily black, and often complicated. Machus notes my uncertainty and pulls a pair of ADYN harem pants, explaining ways to wear them. Moving to the jackets, he tells me about the designers, the history of the brand, and encourages me to feel the luxury materials: fine wool, leather and cotton.

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This emphasis on interaction with the product in the high-end store underscores the Machus experience. Portland stores are known for their mix of local and domestic products, though there is often a lack of contemporary merchandise. Machus provides you with knowledge on who and what you’re wearing with clothing reflecting a sleek minimalism.

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