Brigade is not your typical mall store, and owners Christopher Davis and Brian O'Neill are not your typical mallrats.
After years spent wearing uniforms while attending Gilmour Academy, the East Side duo were hungry for what O'Neill calls "young, contemporary fashion." They launched their first shop in downtown Cleveland in 2001. By 2004, they relocated to Coventry and renamed it Brigade. Davis and O'Neill developed a loyal following of clients who appreciated their carefully selected collection of fashion-forward men's and women's lines and access to G-Star — a popular denim line for men and women — that they have carried since the store's inception.
"[G-Star's] innovation — their ideals on design, having good trims, quality fabrics, quality with really good design — is what draws us to it," says O'Neill. The devotion to G-Star is evident in Brigade's new space inside Beachwood Place. The line takes up more than half the store.
"We needed a little more room. We couldn't get that on Coventry," O'Neill explains of moving to Beachwood Place last year. "We needed to go somewhere where we could be out in front of people."
Inside the store, customers will find impeccably tailored clothing in luxurious organic cotton and high-end denim. In the women's section, menswear-inspired Gitman Sisters flannel shirts ($165) hang near a line of G-Star ARC 3D tapered jeans in comfort frost denim ($230). Over in men's, a rack offers military-style Krane jackets ($600-$1,200) from Toronto designer Ken Chow.
O'Neill and Davis admit it's strange operating their independent store in a mall, and customers often mistake Brigade for a national chain. But the duo is working to create a distinct identity for their local brand. They offer customers beverages while they shop and even provide a closet-organizing service.
"It's part of this little culture we've created," says O'Neill, "a little subculture of mall culture that we've made our own."