In an age when brick-and-mortar stores are increasingly staking their futures on e-commerce, brothers Emil and Sandy Corsillo took the unconventional route of translating a successful web operation into a physical marketplace. Now the business they’ve built is helping to define a new generation of men’s style both online and at their popular New York City store.
“We started the online store as a place to house all of our interests and create a whole new world,” says Emil Corsillo. Back then, the merchandise included everything from vintage French work coats, to screen-printed WPA posters from the 1930s, to balsa wood model airplanes. As business grew and the Corsillos zeroed in on their brand identity, the idea of creating a physical space (with the potential for actual face-time with customers) began to take shape. The end result was Hickoree’s, located on the outskirts of Williamsburg, Brooklyn, where the Connecticut natives have lived for the past decade. It’s a journey that would be repeated by other successful e-commerce brands like Warby Parker, Harry’s, and Bonobos, both of which have recently opened brick-and-mortar outposts.
Looking back, Emil says that “the thing we’ve cherished the most so far is all of the face-to-face conversations we’ve had with our customers—something you don’t get to enjoy with an online-only store.” The opening of a physical store also resonates with the brand’s values of durability, stability, and longevity. Even the clothes themselves seem to telegraph these same values (think heavy twill jackets and work shirts, stitched suede moccasins, and U.S. Navy-inspired wool watch caps). “We imagined that it would be like a clean, well-organized hardware store. It’s a little bit off the beaten path, so we've got to make sure it’s worth the trip.”
But the Corsillos aren’t just following the now-familiar trend toward resurrecting American heritage for style’s sake; they’re redefining and broadening the movement. They take chances on little-known brands like Études and Kapital, which are made in France and Japan, respectively. The look might be American, but everything is curated on a case-by-case basis rather than picking from a list of labels. “We wanted the store to be a place that emphasized the craft and care that went into an object rather than the glamour or status you might get out of it,” Emil says.
This dedication to craftsmanship also extends to the brothers’ own label, The Hill-Side, a collection of accessories that includes scarves, ties, and handkerchiefs and is stocked in independent boutiques from Portland to Boston. It’s The Hill-Side that inspired their road trip, which offered “a great opportunity to trace the production of one of our neckties from start to finish.” Their journey originated in rural Virginia, where a weaver who goes by the name of ‘Old Bob’ constructs the fabric used in their Old Virginia Broken Herringbone neckties. From there, Emil and Sandy drove north, ending up back in New York City to witness the raw fabric transformed into a finished product at a local factory.
Emil and Sandy’s businesses have proved—once again—that sometimes success means venturing off the beaten path.
To learn more about Sandy and Emil's Volvo Joyride, go to: http://po.st/CorsilloBros