CSM Studio
By Rachel Ryan

Brand New Style

Scott Meleskie’s background in advertising inspired him to open Clark Street Mercantile — a gentlemen’s boutique store — in 2013. “I was interested in up and coming brands,” he says. “I had a couple of blogs on fashion and new ideas, so there was always the thought of having a shop that would show-case new products.” At the same time, he had noticed a limited range of menswear around Montreal, a lot of stores stocking a lot of similar items — and not what he was looking for.

“I had worked in advertising for almost ten years and I was getting bored,” he tells me. “The 9-5 life was really 9-9 and I wanted a change, so in December 2012 I quit.”

He had not expected to start the new venture so quickly. “My idea was to work freelance for a while, gathering funds and working on branding,” he says. “This opportunity arose by happenstance around the 27th December. I was walking by with my wife and saw this place boarded up. It was an ideal location but it took over a month to get in touch with the owner. I had the place from February.”

I’m extremely selective, and the brands I wanted to stock are also. - Scott Meleskie, owner

The Clothes Make the Man

After securing the location Scott was able to pause for breath. “I spent time finding the right brand lists. I wanted to carry brands not carried elsewhere in Montreal, or hard to find,” he explains. “Initially the shop had no credibility. I was making contact with people who had no knowledge of me or the store. I’m extremely selective, and the brands I wanted to stock are also, so I had to convince them. It was a challenge.” But it was a challenge Scott was more than willing to take time over. “You’re always buying a year in advance in the fashion business,” he says. “I spent February to June sourcing products before we opened.”

Having been featured in a lot of publications since then, both locally and internationally, the reputation of CSM has grown. “Now brands are approaching us,” says Scott, “And we have to stick to our guns about our priorities. We only stock products with quality, craftsmanship, that are produced locally with a history and heritage behind them.” Scott selects all products personally and is starting to build his own brand. “The first collection was launched summer 2013 – mainly shirts, some shorts. Now we have more accessories,” he says. “This is expanding and I may want to export to other shops in the future.”

Menswear, art posters, watches, straight razors Brands e.g: Freeman, Mitsubishi, Otter, Red Wing Shoes, Kent

Quality is Recognized

“I work with the best makers of what we provide,” Scott explains. “Our clothes are made in a small textile factory in Chicago. Pewter flasks are make in the UK in an area know for pewter, and our enamel camping mugs, which we produce in collaboration with another brand, come from a small company in Poland which has been known for its enamel since WWII. We’re working with a company here in Montreal to produce hair products, essential oils etc. making more masculine scents.” Quality is paramount, but Scott tries to keep prices as affordable as possible.

In terms of running a business, Scott admits that the paperwork and inventorying is his least favourite part. “But,” he says, “It’s interesting to see how everything fits together and how you take an idea through to fruition.” Not everything goes as expected. “I had a target market at first,” he says, “Men in the 25-45 age range, but the majority of our clients are women. They’re mostly buying for men in their lives — husbands and boyfriends and fathers — but they also buy for themselves, especially the art and accessories but even clothes sometimes. Really there’s a huge range of clientele. It varies more than I expected.”

Scott says he selects products by asking himself what he would like. “That’s really how the whole shop is stocked,” he admits. “It’s quite a challenge giving them up when new stuff comes in. I just want to keep them for myself.” It’s a contagious feeling.

Menswear, art posters, watches, straight razors Brands e.g: Freeman, Mitsubishi, Otter, Red Wing Shoes, Kent
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