There's a not-so-secret place in San Francisco that epitomizes tradition, and gentlemanly values. That place is Wingtip: a unique combination of a private members' club and a gentleman's emporium. The store carries a wide range of goods, from clothing and accessories, wine and spirits, grooming and cigars, through to sporting goods. For gentlemanly sports only, of course - no florescent running shoes here!
Our next feature is the man who created this gentleman's oasis Mr. Ami Arad. When Ami and I first met, he was hesitant about the idea of carrying sneakers in his store. But he is now a convert - you can see him walking around Wingtip wearing his white Hydrogen-1 minimalist leather sneakers, along with the rest of his usual dapper look. And like most of Hydrogen-'s clients Ami is not afraid to mix it up. This is what Ami has to say about design.
- Give us a quick overview about yourself, where you work, and what you do.
Thirteen years ago, I left a career in software sales to start Wingtip, a “one-stop shop” for the modern gentleman that includes clothing, accessories, wine & spirits, cigars, a barbershop, and masculine home furnishings located in San Francisco’s financial district.
- Describe your personal style
No one has ever accused me of me being hip. My tastes would be traditional or classic, with almost no fear of color or texture. I like to be able to dress for any occasion, so my closet has multiple tuxedos, lots of suits and sport coats, dress shirts in every color, too many sweaters, a dozen Go To Hell pants, more Hawaiian shirts than I need, a Guayabera, bowling shirt, one pair of jeans, and of course, some clean, white sneakers from Hydrogen-1.
- What clothes are you wearing today? Why do you like them?
Fall is my favorite season by far. Heading into the holiday, I’ve been wearing lots of fun pants (Blackwatch, red & green plaid, alternative paisleys), corduroy pants, flannel trousers, chunky sweaters, and outerwear. Fall lets you layer. Fall lets you add scarves, gloves, and umbrellas. And in San Francisco, you often get the chance to wear all those accessories and sunglasses!
- How does your look change from work to leisure wear (if at all)?
Stark. My preference is to work in a suit or coat & tie — and I am most comfortable in a suit or coat & tie— and I’m not going to wear that on a weekend unless I have to (work, wedding). It would not be uncommon to see me in a three-piece suit one or two days a week, and then on a weekend, in a basic white polo shirt, khakis, and white sneakers.
- Can you name someone whose sense of style has influenced yours? How?
I’m sure if I wasn’t in the line of work I’m in, I could point to one or two people, but between the fashion books I’ve read, the blogs I follow, the men’s magazines I read, and the people in the industry I meet, there is definitely no single person. If I see something I like on someone, I try to figure out how to incorporate it into my own sense of style.
- How does design affect your daily life?
Design influences everything I do every day. That doesn’t mean I’ve mastered any of it, but whether it’s products I’m buying for the store, photography I’m reviewing for the website or future catalog, or experiences we’re designing in our social club, good design is of the utmost importance. I am lucky to have a few great photographers in-house, and a design agency — Hatch — that does phenomenal work for us.
- What are you currently reading?
Happiest Baby on the Block since I am now the father of a newborn boy. Once I master parenting, I’ll be back to stacks of magazines on men’s fashion, watches, cigars, and whiskey.
- What is your favorite holiday destination? What is it that takes you there?
If you mean “holiday” in the European sense of the word, I don’t have a favorite vacation spot; my preference is to explore somewhere new. If you mean “holiday" in the American sense of the word, I don’t really get a vacation as the weeks leading up to Christmas are the busiest weeks of the year for our store, and one of our two, big sales starts the day after Christmas. My Christmas vacation is approximately 36 hours from the afternoon of Christmas Eve until the morning of the 26th.
- Can you name a website or online community where you have discovered new design ideas or inspirations.
Call me old fashioned, but I’d say most of my ideas come from magazines, TV, or traveling. I follow a number of blogs that feature new products, but they are often singularly focused on product. The Rake is my favorite men’s magazine right now, but their website does not match the content of the magazine, and that is true of most of the major men’s magazines. With everyone else chasing what’s coming next, we can often differentiate by looking back at what people might miss.