Revamped Website For Cable Car Clothiers

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We segue from Charleston’s Ben Silver to another trad outpost far from the Northeast, this time San Francisco’s Cable Car Clothiers.

Founded in 1939, the store has managed to survive the city’s transition from traditional stronghold (in such neighborhoods as Nob Hill and Pacific Heights), to beatnik and hippie haven, and finally dot-com hotbed.

It’s fitting that the independent retailer should survive, despite multiple changes in location: San Francisco has the world’s last surviving manually operated cable car system.

Cable Car Clothiers recently gave its website a much-needed overhaul. Prices, alas, remain just as steep as the hilltop streets. Tony Bennett left his heart in San Francisco; you might just leave your wallet. — CC

17 Comments on "Revamped Website For Cable Car Clothiers"

  1. Fantastic place, couldn’t have been friendlier, and Nicky the Barber is a real professional.

  2. Best service on the West Coast.

  3. A.E.W. Mason | January 4, 2014 at 7:07 pm |

    Good grief. That’s a dreadful website. Try it out, someone, and please come back at me and tell me I’m just an old guy who can’t navigate a website.

    By way of example: Click on “suits.” You’ll first discovery they don’t have “suits.” They have “suit.” There sits a lonely Southwick 3-piece flannel in grey on an otherwise empty stage. But wait, you say, they must have more than one suit. So, you explore. Click on “shop by brand” and click on “Southwick.” Whew…. They have “suits”–three; the 3-piece, the Douglas and the Lawrence (the latter a two-button which is wrongly described as their classic three-button). And, all told, you can choose from a wide array of four fabrics. But, don’t expect the thumbnail pictures of the fabrics to work; I think two of the four are out of commission. Oh, and on the Douglas and the Lawrence models, it seems they simply paste in the pictures from Southwick’s website, which, if you recall, show the suits on models fitted in almost, not quite, but almost, hipster fashion; no drape, everything slightly short and tight. You want shoes? They have a cornucopia of 3 pair. Check them out; the Herman Munster collection would be the appropriate eponymous moniker.

    For me, the best website of all is O’Connell’s. But maybe being in Buffalo they do an enormous business online.

  4. A.E.W. Mason | January 5, 2014 at 2:32 am |

    Correction (and to be fair): The thumbnails do work; they’re pretty useless, but they work. And, you can choose from 5 fabrics on the Douglas, 2 on the Lawrence. The Harris tweed sport coat is available in 6 fabrics, if I recall. Finally, I’ll even accept that shoes are just “not their thing.”

    Still, really, if I’m missing something and this “much needed overhaul” to their website is a success, will someone please explain to me why?

  5. I’ve grown accustomed to custom suits, jackets, (MTM), and even ties and shoes. I am guessing I’m not alone. It’s all too easy to speak critically of off-the-rack offerings after one has ventured beyond. For what it is, it’s very good.

  6. Cable Car Clothiers after Ben Silver is going from the sublime to the ridiculous. I’ve gone into Cable Car Clothiers on several trips to San Francisco and find their selection to be meager and their taste, as evidenced by their displays and styling, as dubious. The shop very much plays up a “quaint” and “old time” image (phony, like so much of San Francisco). They also try to stress a Britishness that’s equally phony. We would be better served by an even more in depth look at Ben Silver, followed by a piece on O’Connell’s. These are retailers with both style and authority.

  7. If this site has been revamped, I can’t imagine it’s content and functionality prior! Good Lord!

  8. Berkeley Emeritus | January 6, 2014 at 3:26 am |

    Cable Car Clothiers is heaven-on-earth for those of us who live in Northern Calıfornia. Some men even make yearly pilgrimages from Southern California, which is an absolute wasteland in terms of Ivy style. Even those of us who can’t afford to shop there (and have to rely on Lands’ End and LL Bean for our Ivy garb) pay occasional visits to boost our morale and offer moral support to the staff there.

  9. @Berkeley Emeritus

    Hear! Hear!

    For more about this trad Valhalla, please see:

    http://maxminimus.blogspot.com/2012/02/trad-ivy-friday-san-franciscos-cable.html

  10. Rather than being dismissive about SF’s last bastion of traditional menswear, should you fine gents be praising that it is still succeeding? These stores are all we have left in this slovenly attired world. I’m all for solidarity in this regard. Continued best of luck to Jonathan and his fine store in the future.

  11. I blame Christian :–) He set us up by praising the updated website, which on inspection was pretty lame. I checked out shoes and suits (like A.E.W. Mason), and then departed quickly. Comments inform us that the store is quite good and valuable — I guess they are just not very invested in online sales. The thing is, though, online presence (or catalog presence) leads to walk-ins. If I’m ever anywhere near South Carolina, I will go way out of my way to visit Charleston.

  12. A.E.W. Mason | January 7, 2014 at 12:13 pm |

    I only meant to comment on the website. Frankly, L.A. Trad’s link is a better advertisement for the shop than the website itself–at least what I saw of the website. The fact that the website is such a disappointment won’t keep me from visiting the next time I’m in SF.

    By the way, an equally bad website in my opinion is Carroll & Company here in LA (actually, Beverly Hills). You’d think the place was a private club and that if you’re not a member, you are not even permitted to buy a suit or sport coat online.

  13. AEW,

    I feel the same way about the “new” Andover Shop website. Out of all the Trad shops O’Connell’s is one of the few that has a decent web presence.

  14. Just back from Cable Car with a fine new haircut from Nils, and a nice pair of forest green wool socks. I use my expeditions to the CC barber shop to sneak in purchases which I hope my wife won’t notice. It’s a great shop and Jonathan is a fine fellow. Definitely stop in to pretty much the only men’s shop left on the left coast if you’re in town. I thrift most of my ties and always research the name of the men’s shop on the tag. Invariably they are all gone (usually shortly after NAFTA), with exception of Cable Car Clothiers. Yeah they’re a little more pricey than the Brooks Brothers ziggurat down the street, but supporting this kind of business is important to me.

  15. A.E.W. Mason | January 7, 2014 at 8:38 pm |

    @ oxford cloth button down

    I agree completely about the Andover Shop website. You feel almost as if they don’t care if you purchase something online.

    Again, in the interest of fairness, I did spend a bit more time on the Cable Car site today. If you click on “Our Company” at the top, and then click on each of the subjects in the drop-down tab, you will find some truly wonderful photographs. In these, the shop looks beautiful, full of history, and the clothes on the gentlemen in the pictures is quite fine; wonderful soft tailoring.

    I stick by my opinion, however, of the way the site displays and sells its offerings. But next when in SF, I’m going to drop by and probably purchase something. Amazing to think there was once a J. Press in S.F. Anyone ever shop there? Squeeze?? What was it like?

  16. Odd. Cable Car was a major player in the days of mail order catalogues.

  17. Brad Chadington | January 16, 2014 at 3:42 pm |

    Sure, the webpage may be lacking but it’s a far greater improvement than their last one!

    The store itself is a gem, a true bastion for gentlemen who enjoy great quality merchandise at a decent value. I’ve been shopping there since the old guy worked at the store and although they moved a while ago it still evokes the same old school ethos as their previous store.

    In a city where there are a myriad of big box stores, Cable Car Clothiers is a bastion that upholds legendary service (something that’s pretty darn hard to find these days)

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