All-American Style at Context
The King Street men's boutique focuses on cutting-edge, exclusive brands mixed with classic American labels
“If Steve McQueen wouldn’t wear it, I don’t want to necessarily carry it,” muses Ryan Huber, co-owner, buyer and creative director of Context. “It’s got to have a classic look.”
As Huber and co-owners Sam and Ben Parker chat with me, I can’t help thinking that they look like they stepped out of the pages of GQ or Esquire. Which is ironic because, yep, this Madison retailer has been featured in both. Opened in 2005, the men’s boutique has already shot to retail stardom and has even had celebs stop by (Steve Martin, anyone?).
Their product conversations are peppered with “the best,” “exclusive” and “authentic.” That’s because the timeless Americana look—T-shirts, button-ups, leather boots, straight-leg jeans, pocket squares, dopp kits and aviators—is their forté. Think Band of Outsider button-ups, Barton Perreira shades and Apolis swimwear, accessories and jackets.
“If we carry a product, we get to know the company very well, and then carry whatever they do best,” says Sam, who’s also CFO and buyer. “We carry mostly American-made stuff and some Japanese denim. But American-made is huge. If you make stuff in the U.S. today you probably survived a lot. We’d like to be one of those companies.”
And that means staying here: “The success of us depends on our location,” says Huber. “There’s a beauty of doing this here … it’s
unexpected. But there’s nowhere else we’d rather be.”
Clockwise from top left
These slim leather belts are Context private label pieces and are custom-sized for guys in-store. $115
All you need to know is that Don Draper wears these in Mad Men. Seriously. Oh, and they’re made by Randolph Engineering, a U.S. company, and are standard-issue military eyewear for pilots. $179
These Ralph Lauren Double RL low straight jeans have an extremely limited distribution. The fabric is sourced exclusively for the brand and fit every guy, according to Sam. $230
“Apolis is all about transparency, and making this bag provides jobs in Bangladesh,” says Huber. “This is an exclusive Context piece and it’s the best reusable shopping bag—it has a plastic lining and the straps are the right length.” $68
These leather medicine balls are custom-made for the shop by Leather Head in New Jersey. Huber’s grandfather Melzer was a boxing instructor and the ball is in honor of him. “People are intrigued by the story, and it was a personal project,” says Huber. $350
Context, 113 King St. 250-0113. ContextClothing.com
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Shayna Miller is associate and style editor of Madison Magazine.