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Cirque du Ess Eff – Brooklyn Circus opens in SF

the words: Alexander Worthington iii

the snaps: Casanova Ruffin

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Brooklyn Circus, a new men’s and women’s clothing boutique, opened its doors last Saturday in San Francisco, setting up shop at 1521 Fillmore. The Steel Crew was greeted with ballpark peanuts, wafts of fresh (but long-gone) popcorn from the popcorn cart, and even fresher cuts from a DJ setup at the rear, rounding out the neo-circus theme that both the store and the brand embody.

Stocking everything from the brand’s own tees to raw denim to heavier signature pieces like letterman jackets, polos, and even timepieces, everything is pinned together by a subtle flair that’s almost vaudevillian, giving the entire line a cohesive look. The store’s soft lighting, rich wood floors and shelves and dark leather furniture lend an additional air of olde-time warmth that the line already captures so well.

As I inspect a stack of inky-black denim, one of the BKC gentlemen approaches us and informs us about the triple-overdye process that gives the denim its unique, “almost-resin” look. I’m quoting Gabe, Brooklyn native and importer of the Circus to the West Coast. In other words, he owns the joint.

A stone’s throw away from the world-famous Fillmore on the other side of the block, and nestled between the Harputs stores and a handful of eateries, I can’t help but ask Gabe why he didn’t go up to Post, or to Sutter, or to any of the other, more traveled streetwear haunts – like the Other Guys.

“You just answered your own question,” he chuckles. “Because of all the other guys.”

Gabe and I settle into a discussion about the industry and the culture that surrounds it (or is it the other way around?). The chat is soon joined by the store’s general manager, Rubix, as well as BKC crew member Sean. I get carried away, but I can’t help it – we talk brands that we love and the roots of the industry itself, and it’s easy to see that the passion here is genuine, that these guys are in it for the long haul.

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The more that I pick their brains, the more I realize that their relative isolation from the Other Guys is not necessarily because of the competition nor the need to differentiate; they’re here because they want to be. They picked this spot because they like it, damn it.

Later, Gabe bounces between a collection of tees inspired by nomadic warriors from world history to a hooded sweatshirt punctuated by nautical-style toggle closures that Gabe says, and one can see, are influenced by Ralph Lauren. Everywhere you look, splashes of color playfully mix with intricate black and white illustrations; quality craftsmanship mingles with contemporary details. Whatever Brooklyn Circus says it is, it definitely looks good.

BKC is hellbent on carving out their own niche here in the Bay Area, and perhaps not without a little help from some local friends; among the more eye-catching pieces is the gold-foil-on-black BKCxFatlace collaboration tee, celebrating the City’s love for two wheels – and no doubt satiating the Beasts who crave that sort of stuff. Ladies will love the selection of cuts and fits offered by BKC, a collection that Gabe says will grow aggressively by next season.

Their theme is circus, their worldview is global, and their phasers are set to stun. Originally based in Brooklyn, New York, the brand has quickly expanded to a second store in Brooklyn as well as another in Chicago. But right now, for the Left Coast, SF is the only place where you can catch the Circus.

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The Brooklyn Circus SF

1521 Fillmore Street

San Francisco, CA 94115

415.359.1999

thebkcircus.com

EDIT: Gabe is an SF native who lived in NY for a few years, not a Brooklyn native.

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