by Christina Therrien
Many identify the slightly offbeat neighborhood of Atlantic Avenue in Brooklyn with its blocks of quirky antiques shops, but the newly opened menswear boutique Hollander and Lexer is poised to introduce a bold new men's fashion vibe to the mix. "We always had an interest in menswear, and we saw a void in the neighborhood," says co-owner Brian Cousins. "In addition to all the great antiques, there are so many great women's stores—Butter, Sir, Bird—but there were no shops for men." As a result, Cousins and his partner Hicham Benmira pounced on the retail property just opposite their own antiques store, Darr, last winter as a "spur-of-the-moment" impulse buy (their new shop bears the names of two of the world's first plastic surgery pioneers).
Benmira's rep as an avid explorer and collector of eclectic objects is reflected in the space. Inspired by the idea of carrying over some of the more masculine items from Darr, Hollander and Lexer is home to various found objects, such as a vintage French postal organizer, which today holds woodsy smelling aftershaves, lotions, and pumice stones (the chosen brand of toiletries, Botot, dates back to the days of Louis XIV). With its tobacco-colored wood floors, slate-gray walls, and cozy-via-chic vibe, this shop is clearly informed by its surrounding retail neighbors, but refreshingly without all the clutter. Browsing between racks of Steven Alan shirts and jars of whale jaws and turtle shells, it seems even the most reluctant of male shoppers would feel at ease here.
Despite having to call in a number of last-minute favors to get the spring line in on time, the duo is pleased with the selection and brands on offer. New stock includes linen jackets from Engineered Garments, tote bags by Filson, and a line of handmade fedoras, all of which are complemented by items from the proprietors' private collection, most notably Benmira's selection of Roman rings and army boot buckles. And, so, the crossover from antiques to fashion seems to have been an easy one. As these partners like to say, "If you live like Darr, you dress like Hollander."
Hollander and Lexer, 358 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, 718-797-9190.
Photography by Piera Gelardi
Brooklyn's Atlantic Avenue is a hotbed of all things old (antiques, that is) but the arrival of a new men's shop casts a different light on this fast-changing neighborhood—and even shares some trivia on plastic surgery.