Josh Peskowitz, a New York Man of Style, Dives Into California’s Coastal Currents

Josh Peskowitz, a New York Man of Style, Dives Into California’s Coastal Currents


Favoring the brands Mr. Peskowitz himself wears (Common Projects, Dries Van Noten, Kolor, Eidos Napoli, Missoni, Tricker’s) and in the same off-kilter colors and proportions, the store functions like a continuing self-portrait arrayed on hangers. And it has an experimental looseness natural to someone who fetched up in the world of fashion almost by happenstance.

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Opened in 2016, Magasin has established itself as a cult destination.

Credit
Jake Michaels for The New York Times

Born in Brooklyn, raised in Washington,, style schooled from afar by the hip-hop legends that influenced his generation, Mr. Peskowitz, 39, honed his style starting with a job doing window display for Urban Outfitters and refined it over a decade or so at editorial jobs in publications as disparate as Esquire, The Fader and the late, lamented Cargo.

His last gig before striking out on his own was as men’s fashion director at Bloomingdale’s. There he concluded that what was vanishing as department stores withered and algorithms replaced merchants was “a real point of view.” This seemed particularly needful as consumers — the male ones, anyway — flail about in search of a plausible work uniform for an era when casual Friday rolls around every 24 hours.

Mr. Peskowitz jokingly refers to himself as “poor man with expensive tastes or an expensive man with simple tastes,” which is one way of saying he favors a strenuously hybridized version of high-low attire. Take the roomy flood pants he is wearing. They are costly vintage Junya Watanabe and he has paired them with a tailored kimono-style jacket from a design collaboration recently undertaken with Levi’s Made & Crafted label, a Magasin T-shirt, a pair of suede Clarks Wallabees and a generic knit cap.

“My style has gotten a lot looser since I moved to L.A.,” Mr. Peskowitz said, after parking and heading for the flea market. He now wears his tailored suit jackets from the underappreciated Milanese designer Massimo Alba with drop-crotch trousers and clogs.

Setting off down aisles crammed with vendors offering both curatorial selections of vintage work wear and the usual unclassifiable junk, Mr. Peskowitz at Erin Powell’s Little Baby Kitty booth, with a table full of floral embroidered sneakers from Thailand that looked like next-season Gucci. He purchased a pair for his wife, then scoured a stand offering mint-condition denim boiler suits and Wrangler cowboy shirts with all-important mother-of-pearl snaps. Finally he trawled a display crammed with what looked to be the contents of David Crosby’s accessories drawer.

“You know, I always want to fill up on rings, but I’m already full-up on rings,” said Mr. Peskowitz, whose hands are barnacled with silver.

Zeroing in on a Hopi silver ring inlaid with white abalone, he asked to try it.

“You sure?” said the vendor, Nancy Rose. “That’s a hippie-dippy ring from the ’70s.”

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Mr. Peskowitz at the Santa Monica Airport flea market.

Credit
Jake Michaels for The New York Times

“I’m down with that.”

In those olden 1970s days, straight guys like Mr. Peskowitz might have experienced some discomfort preening their fashion tastes in public, parsing the latest output of Japanese cult designers or wearing happi coats on the job. Then the internet came along and made it safe to explore any potentially embarrassing interest in private. “It’s like sex kinks or joining Isis,” Mr. Peskowitz said. “You can self-radicalize around fashion on the web.”

Mr. Peskowitz estimates that his wardrobe — he has never inventoried it — runs to 700 articles of clothing, dozens each of jackets, shirts and jeans and an equivalent number of hats. “Some of it has sentimental value,” he said as he nosed the Cadillac out of the flea market parking lot and pointed it north toward Malibu. “I keep a lot of stuff I wouldn’t necessarily break out on a Tuesday.”

Among those items is his paternal grandfather’s cowboy hat. “Even though he was from Brooklyn, he had a thing for cowboy hats and bolos,” Mr. Peskowitz said. Possibly it was this same westward-leaning and sartorially adventuresome grandfather who influenced Mr. Peskowitz’s lifelong interest in clothes.

“I do think that there is a through-thread between our identity and the way we dress,” Mr. Peskowitz said. “We don’t have feathers and we don’t have fur. Being an animal, you have to have some form of display. That’s just how it goes.”

Well before reaching the Reel Inn, a throwback fish joint where customers place orders at a walk-up window after perusing a glass case displaying the day’s catch, Mr. Peskowitz already knew his order. “I’m having fried oysters, fish tacos that I ask them to make with whatever’s fresh and a bucket of French fries,” he said. “That and a Foster’s Oil Can.”

It is easy to get the sense that, behind the easygoing facade that is a large part of Mr. Peskowitz’s charm, is the focused temperament of a man seldom in any confusion about what he desires. Each of his many tattoos — an Urdu symbol for nonviolence; his mother’s initials in block letters; an Assyrian sphinx; a Japanese whale; the battle standard of Cyrus the Great — is as studiously considered as the labels displayed at Magasin.

And each of those labels is as carefully gauged for the correspondences it sets up with its neighbors as for its individual designer cred. “One thing that is sorely missing in retail is a differentiating perspective,” Mr. Peskowitz said, as he mopped up tartar sauce with an oyster. “While we certainly sell clothes that are colorful, interesting — perhaps even flamboyant in certain instances — the idea we employ in the store is that our job is contextualizing those things.”

He took a slug of beer and wiped his mouth with the back of his wrist. “Since you cannot turn off anymore and there’s no distinction between work clothes and off-duty clothes, you need a formula for being casual and still a presentable human that can command respect,” Mr. Peskowitz said. “It’s basically about how to wear sneakers and look like a grown-up. You don’t ever want to be the eyesore. You want to be the interesting guy.”



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