Selvedge Stampede: Brooklyn Clothing Co. Store Profile

This blog post is sponsored by Brooklyn Clothing Co., but opinions are the author’s.

Why It’s the Pride of Calgary and Western Canada’s Best Well-Made Menswear Stockist

This one hits close to home. You see, it was in Calgary that I spent my formative years. I was just 13 when I moved to the sprawling city where the prairies and the foothills of the Rocky Mountains meet.

When I arrived in 1993, Brooklyn Clothing Co. had been open for four years, and they had already established themselves as one of the city’s casual style landmarks.

Calgary is best known for hosting the world’s largest rodeo each summer, so jeans—especially from the big three western legacy brands—are woven into the city’s identity.

Based on their jeans, these cowboys probably haven’t heard of Brooklyn. (Photo: Icon Sportswire)

From their earliest days, Brooklyn Clothing Co. was one of the best places in Calgary to find a great pair of jeans from brands you couldn’t find elsewhere. They carried European labels like Diesel, Replay, Pepe, and Big Star long before these brands started appearing in department stores and mall chains. 

This made them a destination for Calgary’s denimhunters young and old, and when I first darkened Brooklyn’s door in the late-nineties, it was immediately clear that the place was special. Situated at the quiet end of Kensington, Calgary’s most picturesque and walkable neighbourhood, Brooklyn Clothing Co. was miles from the malls, both in terms of distance and identity.

It was my first experience with a casual menswear boutique that seemed catered to my increasingly particular tastes. Everything felt carefully curated, but the style was accessible and down to earth. Pieces were comfortable and well-made and prices were reasonable. I made a habit of stopping in every time I was in the neighbourhood, and I almost never left empty-handed.

In 2009, Brooklyn marked their 20th anniversary by shifting gears. They began to focus on the burgeoning heritage menswear niche, beginning with brands like Red Wing and Momotaro. The response from customers was immediate and electric. It was clear that they were on the right track.

Since then, they’ve added a laundry list of rugged labels to their roster, cornering the well-made goods market in Western Canada. Founder Brad Tien says that brands like Viberg, Rogue Territory, and Iron Heart were massive game-changers.

Today, if you’re in Calgary and looking for labels like Studio D’Artisan, Wesco, Samurai, PBJ, and Strike Gold, they’re the only game in town. 

Is There a Brooklyn in Canada?

Tien says that, when he was thinking about what to call his store when it first opened, he wanted something that was both memorable and evocative. He saw (and still sees) New York as the centre of the casual menswear world, and Brooklyn has a vibe, sound, and style all of its own.

The retail space that Brad Tien chose also helped him draw a circle around an appropriate name. The space on the second floor of the commercial building features a partially open ceiling that leaves ducts and pipes exposed. It lends a certain industrial feel that reminded Brad of the iconic Brooklyn Bridge.

The building is also shaped like a triangle. It juts out between two streets that intersect at an acute angle. The architect called the building Pointe, but locals mostly refer to it as The Flatiron—a reference to the building’s shape (like a clothing iron) but also to New York’s similarly shaped Flatiron Building.

With the shop’s movement into the rugged menswear space, the name seemed a better fit than ever. Brooklyn’s Williamsburg was, of course, the epicentre of the early-aughts explosion of the North American heritage scene, and it is still one of the best places to see selvedge style practised in the wild. Brooklyn has always been slightly ahead of the style curve, and Brooklyn Clothing Co. has managed to be the same for menswear in Western Canada.

In the NYC borough, urban and rustic sensibilities collide and mix—a far cry from the perpetually glittering newness of Manhattan. Something similar happens on the racks and shelves at Brooklyn Clothing Co. Each piece is rooted in function and durability, with a mixture of urban stylishness and earthy sensibility. The pieces they focus on are timelessly hip, existing in a slow-moving style stream that cuts through trends diagonally.

The pieces you’ll find at Brooklyn Clothing Co. are meant to be lived in, to stand the test of time, and to improve with age. Brad Tien’s parents raised him to appreciate well-made things, to choose quality over quantity. Those who share this appreciation will find in Brooklyn an oasis of well-made menswear worthy of a deeper investment of both time and money.

Stallions in the Stables

A well-made pair of boots or heavy selvedge jeans might cost substantially more than mass-market jeans or boots you can find at the mall.

The similarities, though, end the moment you begin to look deeper. You can see it on the surface, in the fabrics and hides. The difference becomes even more apparent with the passage of time.

Brad counts on his customers to understand and appreciate this difference, but he also knows that newcomers might need help to understand and appreciate the merits of well-made jeans, jackets, boots, and knitwear. 

He’s learned how to do this from experience. He’s been carrying lesser-known brands for 35 years, and this means educating customers who are encountering these labels for the first time.

He’s had to learn through trial and error what translates for customers and what doesn’t. He’s used the same process over the course of his long tenure in the rapidly shifting menswear retail landscape to either cull or expand the herd as needed.

The result is a streamlined stable of ripsnorting stallions. In terms of label line-ups, you won’t find a stronger shop anywhere in Western Canada. It’s not so much about the size of the list as the unimpeachable quality from top to bottom. It’s Alberta beef. No gristle or fat, just mean and lean cuts. 

There’s a clear focus on the absolute best of the best among the Pacific Northwest makers. Viberg and Wesco combine for a powerful one-two punch, and with Japanese bootmaker John Lofgren in the mix, Brooklyn Clothing Co. has a formidable boot wall. The focus on Canadian and Pacific Northwest brands gives Brooklyn a powerful hometown hero vibe.

They are just as strong in Japanese brands. Heavy hitters like Iron Heart and Samurai are joined by enthusiast favourites like PBJ and UES. They’ve also recently added Full Count to their stables—another impressive and stylish addition. 

Below, we’ll take a closer look at some of the studs in their line-up:

Iron Heart at Brooklyn Clothing Co.

Brooklyn Clothing Co. was actually the first place that I saw Iron Hearts. It was 2011, and, while I was browsing, a customer came in wearing a pair of 634s. Brooklyn didn’t stock the brand yet, but the clerk recognized them immediately and practically jumped over the counter to get a closer look.

It was a chance encounter (one that literally changed my life), and Brooklyn have, since 2018, taken all the chance out of the equation. They’re very well stocked in Iron Heart pieces, and they’ve given them pride of place in the shop, making them unmissable. 

Their 14 oz. selvedge has been a top seller for the store since they introduced it, with customers often returning to try some of Iron Heart’s heavier offerings. Fade enthusiasts have started asking for their superheavyweight 25 oz. denims, so Brooklyn will be adding them to their shelves very soon.

Brooklyn’s success as an Iron Heart retailer can be felt on the streets of Calgary, where the brand’s instantly recognizable arcuates are starting to appear more frequently. One pair at a time, Brooklyn Clothing Co. are introducing Calgarians to the world’s best jeans.

Dehen1920 at Brooklyn Clothing Co.

Running along the centre of the shop is a shelf that is stacked nearly from end to end with Dehen knitwear. Known for their dense and durable knits, the Portland-based heritage brand produces what are arguably the best-made wool sweaters, cardigans, and overshirts in North America (if not the world).

More than a century ago, Dehen started knitting varsity sweaters for American college athletes. In the ensuing decades, they would produce some of America’s most iconic heritage pieces, including varsity jackets and motorcycle club sweaters that have yet to be bested. In nearly every category they compete, they lap the competition.

Calgary has extremely cold winters, so locals have taken to the brand like cowboys to flapjacks. The knits are heavy and warm enough that they can be worn as outerwear in all but the coldest months of the year.

Hiroshi Kato at Brooklyn Clothing Co.

A deeply underappreciated Japanese brand, Hiroshi Kato are best known for their Four-Way Stretch selvedge, which Brooklyn stocks in a wide range of weights and colours.

Before you turn up your nose at the added elastane, you might want to give it a try. I have a pair, and it was immediately apparent to me why the Comfort Stretch has converted so many purists, making them, so to speak, more flexible.

Along with Nudie, Kato has been an important stepping stone for those who are stepping into Brooklyn and the world of well-made selvedge for the first time. Brooklyn founder Brad has seen it happen over and over again. The beautiful fades that only selvedge can provide quickly turn newcomers into enthusiasts. 

Kato also boast some of the most stylish shirting in the game. Their Anvil and Brace shirts are bold and beautiful, and their 8 oz. Ripper Flannels are among the best lighter-weight flannel shirts out there, with incredibly stylish colourways.

All their pieces are designed in Japan, where many of their fabrics are also milled. They are then cut and sewn in the United States. It’s a brilliant and highly stylish East/West combination that will glide into your wardrobe. 

Viberg Boots at Brooklyn Clothing Co.

Those who are deeply passionate about boots either have a pair of Vibergs in their collection or count them as an utterly essential brand. A pair of Viberg Service Boots took home the gold medal in the inaugural Stitchdown Patina Thunderdome (Brooklyn Clothing Co. was one of the competition’s chief sponsors).

The brand can trace its roots back to Saskatchewan’s bountiful farmland, where Ed Viberg started making boots for hard-working men of the Canadian prairies in 1931. The brand later relocated to Canada’s Vancouver Island, but the simple formula (and the family ownership) have remained unchanged for nearly 100 years.

The relationship between Brooklyn and Viberg is as durable as the brand’s boots. Brad Tien says that he went “all in” with the brand about 10 years ago, and they’ve done a number of exclusive collabs since then. Customers are thrilled to support a home-grown brand, so pairs rarely stay on the shelves for long.

35th Anniversary SS24 Brooklyn X Viberg Boots

Celebrating its 35th anniversary in 2024, Brooklyn is releasing several special anniversary products throughout the year, including these beautiful Viberg boots.

Reigning Champ at Brooklyn Clothing Co.

For those in the know, the words “Canadian knitwear” really mean something. Canada’s knitters have a hard-earned reputation for producing durable, comfortable, and stylish basics. If you haven’t had a chance to try any Canadian knitwear yet, you’ll soon see what all the fuss is about. 

Guided by principles of both restraint and mastery, Reigning Champ produce elegant yet rugged basics. Their sweatshirts and hoodies can step into the ring with the world’s best. With collaborations with Junya Watanabe and Porter under their belt, their reputation has spread from their native Vancouver to circle the globe. 

Brooklyn have carried the brand since their debut. I picked up one of their slub henleys when I was last at the shop, and it’s been an absolute staple in my collection ever since. When I return, I’ll be grabbing one of their zip-up hoodies and perhaps a pair of sweatpants to match.

Reigning Champ are as good as it gets for non-loopwheeled basics. If it simply has to be loopwheeled, though, Brooklyn Clothing Co. has lots of options (all of them Japanese at the moment). They’ll soon be adding German loopwheel titans Merz b. Schwanen to their line-up.

Make a Day of It

Most of Brooklyn Clothing Co.’s customers find their way to the store in the digital space. They have an excellent web shop, and their impressive brand list means that those looking for hard-to-find brands like Strike Gold, Studio D’Artisan, Viberg, and John Lofgren are finding their way to Brooklyn’s portal.

The best way to see the shop, though, is in person. If you find yourself in Calgary, a visit to Kensington and Brooklyn Clothing Co. will likely be a highlight of your trip. The guys who work in the shop are deeply passionate about what they sell, and they love chatting about selvedge and well-made goods. 

The neighbourhood has more than enough attractions to make a day of it. You’ll find delicious coffee in Higher Ground (a popular independent coffee shop), and, just across the street from Brooklyn Clothing Co., Peppino’s makes the best sandwiches you’ll find in the city. Finish it all off with a belly-busting cupcake from Crave.

You’ll leave Kensington a happy shopper, with a bellyful and a bagful of the best that Calgary has to offer.

Denimhunters is reader-supported. We might earn a small commission when you make a purchase after clicking a link on our site. But don’t worry, it won’t cost you anything. When we show a price, it’s including local VAT, and it’s subject to change.

Scroll to Top