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Patagonia Bowery

The latest surf-centric outpost from the green company offers more than just a shop

by Hans Aschim in Design on 25 September 2013

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Purveyor of some of the finest outdoor gear on the market, Ventura-based Patagonia has grown from a couple of climbers banging hammers in a shed to a worldwide leader in the apparel industry. While paying homage to its roots with a recent heritage collection, the brand is continually focused on the future with an emphasis on both technical innovation and also one of the most comprehensively sustainable approaches to business. Patagonia continues to expand its foray into the surf industry with their wave-sliding-centric outpost in one of the most bustling yet overlooked surf scenes in the world: New York City.

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Patagonia's Bowery location—housed in the now-defunct iconic CBGB club—is the first of the brand's surf outposts on the East Coast. Home to the full range of Patagonia's wetsuits (and soon to carry the innovative plant-based Yulex suits) the shop is a gear-head's paradise. Instead of pushing surfboards to the back of the shop, Patagonia Bowery puts them right in the center. The shop carries everything from shortboards to single-fin logs, as well as Patagonia's renowned (and hard to find) Fletcher Chouinard Designs line of boards, which are handmade in Ventura. The brand also plans to source boards from various shapers, including Brooklyn's own Imaginary Surf Co. With surf experts on hand and ample space to examine boards, Patagonia Bowery is about surfing first and foremost. In addition to boards, a selection of fins from Captain Fin, bags from Topo Designs, bodysurfing fins and handplanes and of course Patagonia's current line of soft goods.

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Maintaining Patagonia's ethos, the shop is as much about selling the best gear as it is about fostering the local outdoor community. "When we open a store we always try to really do the local surf scene justice," says Patagonia's director of surf projects Jason McCaffrey, "We don’t try to rubberstamp Southern California and export it globally." McCaffrey says incorporating local surfers into determining the identity and character of the store is the key to creating an authentic atmosphere—and is proven in their surf outposts, from Spain to Japan to California. "NYC has a legit surf scene," McCaffrey says. "I think it gets written off a lot by others, but surfers there (and on the East Coast in general) have to work harder for what they get. They have to travel farther and deal with more obstacles, and a lot of the time, they get their best waves in miserable winter weather. It’s no joke."

The Bowery location (or as it was mistakenly dubbed by curious onlookers, "Bowery Sushi," due to the brand's fish logo) is certain to become the hub of NYC's core surf scene. In addition to retail offerings, the shop houses a board repair center for those dings and dents caused by subway commutes. Out back, the remodeled alleyway will be home to board swaps and community events. However, the shop's biggest non-commercial draw is in the basement, which is a huge, open showing space. "This will be our premier event site for the East Coast. If there’s a movie, slide-show, book signing, anything—it will come through here," McCaffrey says.

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Walking into the shop, there's clearly a different vibe than anywhere else in the neighborhood. At once fresh and decidedly old New York, the design of the shop is amenable to both browsing and simply hanging out. Exposed beams and the original, almost ancient, wood flooring balance the open space with a dated warmth. Of course, the space's past as the CBGB has not been forgotten. "So much happened there, you can feel it when you walk in and we wanted to be sure to not whitewash over any of that," McCaffrey says. "It’s our hope that people like what we left, there’s stuff on the walls that was there the day I walked in, and there’s stuff we uncovered when renovating that was just too cool (and weird) to leave out."

Patagonia Bowery is open now at 313 Bowery in New York City. Swing by for the latest in surf and soft goods from the environmentally conscious pioneer or check them out online. Keep an eye on Patagonia Bowery's Twitter for the latest on special events and happenings.

Photos by Hans Aschim

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