Father’s Day is in less than two weeks, so I’ve begun gift shopping. I prefer not to leave it until the last minute! Letter J Chelsea is a menswear boutique that recently opened in Chelsea, and Jason Somerfeld (Letter J’s owner) graciously granted me an interview.
I am seated comfortably in a modern-styled chair in Letter J Chelsea. The afternoon sun is bright and light streams through floor-to-ceiling front windows. On my right is a streamlined bookshelf filled with all sorts of interesting publications. To my left is the store, a surprisingly large, airy space. I am listening to Jason tell me about his career and what brought him to where he is today.
Letter J Chelsea is the long-term of dream of owner Jason Somerfeld, an FIT graduate passionate about retail. Jason tells me that spent time at Saks, Searle and Loehmann’s before opening Letter J this spring.
Jason is passionate about retail, which shows not only in his speech but in the careful attention to detail throughout Letter J.
The boutique is incredibly welcoming. Inside, the vibe is very relaxed, very West Coast. The space is bright and modern, a former art gallery with a slight industrial feel. Someplace you’d like to visit and stay for a while. I imagine it as a gathering place for the stylish, perhaps with a small juice bar tucked in a corner.
Jason believes a lot in color. I browse the store, taking in the colorful patterns and accessories throughout. A green linen shirt stands out, as do shorts printed with vintage beach scenes. Jason tells me the Letter J Chelsea customer is someone casual yet sophisticated, and anyone who believes in great style– women included. I’m tempted to pick up a few bright shirts myself when its revealed that quite a few women come to Letter J to shop for themselves.
Above all, I think Jason believes in things that are special. When he buys for Letter J, he looks for exclusivity and uniqueness. Letter J is the only store in New York that carries several of brands available there.
A deep purple shirt with a vaguely Asian pattern catches my eye and I’m off making a beeline for it. The under $50 tag surprises me, a common recurrence in the boutique. Prices range, but there are a number of pieces around $30-$50. And all of the fabrics are of fantastic quality.
I’ll be back here. For gifts, and maybe for a few shirts for me, too.
Visit Letter J Chelsea at 557 West 23rd Street (between 10th and 11th) to see the entire store of highly-curated menswear. Brands to keep an eye out for include Hartford, Freedom Artists and Boy London.