Trad By The Bay: Checking In With Cable Car Clothiers


A true bastion of trad style, Cable Car Clothiers has always held a special place in the heart of San Francisco. Established in the late 1930s, the retailer seems to ride the various waves of boom and bust that San Francisco is known for, while expanding and relocating the business to meet the continually changing needs of the marketplace. I hope that its newest location in the heart of the bustling Financial District will serve it well for years to come.

On assignment for Ivy Style, I stopped by the newest incarnation of the shop last week to cover a party held for Laura Smith Borrman, author of the new book “Discovering Vintage San Francisco.” Smith Borrman has gathered a charming collection of shops, restaurants, bars and classic establishments, all of which bring the past to life in a clearly modern San Francisco. Being a Bay Area native, she’s also brought many personal stories that help bring the book to life.

Because of my schedule, I was one of the first to arrive at the event. This had a two-fold advantage. Firstly, I had several moments to chat with Ms. Smith Borrman and share in her excitement about the book. But even better, I had a chance to poke around the shop before the crowds set in and snap a few pictures for Ivy Style’s readership. So here’s your sartorial dispatch from the city by the bay. — SCOT MEACHAM WOOD







9 Comments on "Trad By The Bay: Checking In With Cable Car Clothiers"

  1. I periodically travel to San Francisco and always make time to visit CCC’s. A must if you are in town and I highly recommend it. My favorite purchase (years ago) was a pair of cream colored bucks. Not white, cream. 🙂

  2. Kenneth K. Beck | December 11, 2015 at 1:27 pm |

    If anybody still thinks that there is no difference between Preppy, Ivy, and Trad, they should pay a visit to CCC.

  3. Vern Trotter | December 11, 2015 at 3:07 pm |

    This store has always been one of the best; now with the demise of the others, it may just be the best.

  4. Henry Contestwinner | December 11, 2015 at 3:35 pm |

    Excellent. A true mantopia. But… what about that barbarian barber? Not just the self-defacing of his body, but the rudeness of wearing a hat indoors.

    Having said that, there is probably nothing else to complain about when it comes to Cable Car Clothiers.

    For those north of the Democratic People’s Republic of California, may I suggest John Helmer Haberdasher in Portland? Family-owned since 1921, it offers an incredible array of hats, and also features all the quality, tasteful furnishings one would expect, as well as a few surprises (walking sticks, anyone? Reproduction milkman’s hats from the local dairy, perhaps?).

  5. Oh Boy, now I really do need to get to SF!! Would that NYC had an outpost of CCC, it could sure use one (well, I at least, would be very happy if they did). I recently was in New Haven where I stopped into the rather grim and nigh-on-dead J. Press store, where I made a mercy-purchase of a tweed jacket and some other stuff. The jacket is rather ungainly, and so stiff that it has virtually no drape to it. And, God forbid, there’s padding in the shoulders whereas there should be none. So far I keep reaching beyond it for others hanging in my closet. As a life-long J. Press customer, I’m near to giving up on the Squeeze forever.

    I pored over the CCC photos, which got my sartorial juices flowing, for sure. What I would give to have a store in NYC that stocks such hats as CCC sports. I’m in need of a couple of ’em.


  6. I’ve only been in the store 2-3 times on SF visits, and only bought some small items. But when you walk in and just look around, you get a feeling of “solidity”, that no corners have been cut on anything they have to offer. They’re definitely the epitome of “full retail”, though.

  7. Bags' Groove | December 12, 2015 at 3:11 am |

    Should I ever make a pilgrimage to their relocated establishment, I’d be awfully disappointed if I couldn’t find a nice cable knit sweater to purchase.

  8. Looks like a proverbial Disneyland for the sybarite in all of us.

    Some editorial jurisprudence here: it’s spelled Borrman

  9. Thanks, WFB. A misspelled name is the worst (I was Cotswold in the WSJ).

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