Enter Steve and Martha Fazio’s specialty clothing store, PlainClothes, where wooden mannequins are draped in classic, yet forward-thinking, garments. Designers’ lookbooks, fabric swatches and a tailor’s measuring tape stand ready to deliver personalized style. Steve and Martha exude a polished elegance as well, as they offer customers a beverage upon entrance. While shoppers peruse gentlemen’s wares to the right and women’s to the left, lilting ’20s and ’30s jazz tunes dance through the shop, adding to the timeless ambience.
“Jazz was the pulse of the time, the energy and tumult of that period between the wars when the U.S. came of age,” says Martha of the 20th-century originality and glamour that inspires PlainClothes’ style—a modern sensibility informed by the influential styles of yesterday.
And the Fazios are like jazz musicians when it comes to curating beautifully crafted clothing. Nearly every item in the Homewood store possesses the singularity and beauty of the human hand — from hand-dyed silk scarves and hand-knit fitted sweater jackets, to handcrafted leather bags and hand-sewn pocket squares. The PlainClothes client appreciates the exceptional quality of a rare fabric, as well as the subtle imperfections of a handmade item.
During their quarterly travels to New York City showrooms, the Fazios select collections befitting their clientele and the Southern climate. “We know our regular customers well, and we look for items that they will find intriguing,” says Martha. They purposefully choose designers with whom they can partner to “cater to each client’s needs, even having designers build certain things for them.”
“The items on the rack are just a starting point,” Steve says, describing a gentleman client who requested a duffel bag in pieced-leather camouflage, which leather craftsman Frank Clegg created for him. For ladies, the Fazios have worked with designers to customize hats for the Kentucky Derby and one-of-a-kind gowns for weddings, galas and an evening at the White House.
The Fazios gracefully engage interested customers in the stylistic elements of the pieces on the racks. However, their enthusiasm comes into focus as they describe the tales of the artisans behind the garments—the three-woman team running the Italian collection Bella Collezione, the New York City installation artist-turned-fashion innovator, Sylvia Heisel, and the Birmingham-based handmade pocket square designer Charles Ellis of Sartorial.
“There are many genuine, hardworking, talented people who make the clothing industry happen,” says Martha of the designers they showcase on their website’s Meet Our Makers page. “We believe their stories deserve to be told.” And a visit to this specialty shop delivers more than just fashion; it offers storytelling, history and artistry, coupled with exceptional style.
PlainClothes is located at 2820 Linden Ave., Homewood, AL. Hours are Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. Call (205) 871-3391 or visit plainclothes.us to learn more.