Here at Fulton & Roark, we take great pride in not only our products but also our partnerships. We work in tandem with our nationwide retail partners to ensure their customers have the products and in-store experiences that Fulton & Roark cultivates. That level of service commands considerable attention from both the maker and the retailer. And so every once in a while we like to take the time to show them our appreciation. We use these Retailer Spotlight articles to spread the word about our prestigious, loyal clients and spend more time discussing and recognizing them, and not ourselves for once.
This past week, I had the pleasure of interviewing Sean McNelis, owner of The Sporting District, about his gentlemen’s store and his take on men’s fashion, in general. Located in the nationally acclaimed Pearl District of San Antonio, Texas, The Sporting District exemplifies elevated men’s style – not only in the products they carry but in the experience they create for every shopper.
Your store, The Sporting District, is located in the Pearl District, in San Antonio, TX. Why did you choose that location?
You have to know a little bit about the history of San Antonio, and even Texas as a whole, to understand why chose the Pearl as our first brick-and-mortar location. Texas has always had two iconic breweries – Lone Star and Pearl – competing to be crowned the “national beer of Texas” for well over a century. Both were brewed in San Antonio by early German settlers who brought their beer making skills to Texas. The Pearl Brewery was built on the banks of the San Antonio River in 1883 and continued production until 2001. The historic property sat dormant until it was purchased by Kit Goldsbury, former owner of Pace Picante Sauce, who used his fortune to turn the old brewery into one of the very best redevelopment projects in the nation and, in turn, to revitalize midtown San Antonio. Kit’s vision for the Pearl defied conventional investment strategies, making the Pearl a signature community asset at the expense of return on investment. The Pearl has become the epicenter of everything great about San Antonio, from its setting on the banks of the beautiful San Antonio River to its public spaces, water features and amphitheaters, to hosting the city’s best restaurants, shopping and arguably the finest hotel in the state of Texas. It is just an amazing place for the San Antonio community – and visitors from around the world – to collect themselves. It has been truly extraordinary it witness the impact of the Pearl Development on our city, and if The Sporting District were going to be anywhere, it would be the Pearl.
So, what did you envision when you first opened your doors in the summer of 2014?
There’s an interesting story here. I practice law full-time with my own boutique firm specializing in real estate and construction law. I already work way too many hours to consider taking on another business venture. But one day I got a call from the Pearl saying that they were holding one space open for a men’s store and that they were told to call me. I honestly thought they had called me by mistake. The more we began to discuss the idea the more obsessed I became with filling our City’s need for a really innovative men’s store, one that would provide our community with the products and service that we were missing while creating a brand that would resonate on an even larger scale. So, after about two weeks of deliberation, I called them back up and said, “let’s do it”. Fast forward four to five months later, we were open with exceptional finishout, great brandings and a truly unique collection of men’s clothing and lifestyle items from the very best of southern makers.
You have earned a reputation paying very close attention to detail. How do you see details within men’s fashion overall?
I think men are becoming more sophisticated in both their tastes and appreciation for quality. With sophistication comes attention to details. We were talking briefly about the use of innovative fabrics in even traditional garments like formal wear, including seersucker fabric. It was not too long ago that simply owning a tuxedo of any fabric or cut was sufficient to place you near the front of the pack of men’s style, but that has all changed. Men are now acutely aware of options for stitch, fabric, cut, fit, quality of construction and other details to create signature pieces for their wardrobe. Men now understand how they can elevate their sartorial style by paying close attention to these little details. I think men’s makers are helping to lead that because you don’t get into this business as a maker, certainly Fulton & Roark didn’t, without being obsessed with details and wanting to express that view to the buying public. So, the makers are driving it, the men’s market is aware of it, seeking it out and, frankly, demanding it. That attention to detail is showing up in as aspects of the product, including its packaging. Take Fulton & Roark’s packaging, for instance, I just got the new white cologne...
Exactly, I’m wearing it now. Fulton & Roark’s scents are always great but the packaging on all Fulton & Roark products are no less phenomenal and I love them. I share those comments with your team all the time because of our common love of great quality and design. In a sense, you don’t wear the packaging, but it’s the attention to detail in things like the packaging that I think makes the complete product.
We are living in an increasingly more casual society, what advice do you have for an individual in a more laid back office, with a less dressy environment, in order to still look sharp and professional?
The first piece of advice that I would give is that, no matter the work setting, you have to look sharp and professional. The whole point is to not run with the herd, but to be out in front of it, and that doesn’t necessarily mean making fashion statements. There’s a difference between fashion and style. Fashion is fleeting, but style is a constant. Whatever office environment you are in, you want to be the guy that’s the most put together. Not the most flamboyant necessarily, and certainly not the most comfortable, but you want to be the one that gets what true style is. Style can be bright colors or interesting fabrics or combinations. For whatever it’s worth, I have always said that matching one color in your outfit is the lowest hanging fruit, while wearing two complementary colors elevates you further. But it is the gentleman who can correctly coordinate three colors that is operating in rare air and making their own style statement.
I want your feedback on one of my personal mottos “look good, feel good”, what’s your take on that? Do you agree?
Absolutely, yes, but not necessarily the other way around. There is no arguing that pajama bottoms and your favorite t-shirt are likely the most comfortable items in your wardrobe, but that “feeling good” will generally not transfer over to looking good. But looking good will inevitably translate into feeling good. When you know that you have put together an outfit that looks good, it elevates you to where, whatever the situation you’re in, you’re comfortable. I mean how many times have I walked into a business meeting or a reception and, while I may not know a single person in the room, there is an inherent comfort in knowing that I am well put together to meet the occasion, a confidence that radiates, I think, and certainly is felt.
If you find yourself in San Antonio, feel free to visit our friends at The Sporting District. If that happens to be quite a distance from you, you can shop their online selection on their website, www.sportingdistrict.com/.