Best Sellers: Steven Alan on Sample Sales, Favorite Items, and Selling Black in L.A.

The owner of the eponymous casualwear stores discusses his inventory and sales strategies.

Every week we turn to the top retailers in men's fashion—from the owners of small independent stores to buyers from multinational chains—to find out what items have been selling like hotcakes and how they stock their shelves. This week it's Steven Alan, the owner of the eponymous casualwear stores that have become popular stops for smart wardrobe staples on both coasts.

What are your recent best sellers?

This season, our Packable Sea Slicker [below, left] has been a great seller. It's a version of our classic rain slicker, but it folds into itself for easy toting. The Placket Polo has also been doing well and, of course, our Reverse Seam Button Down [below, right] always does well, but the bright plaid in particular has been a great seller.

Since starting your business in New York City, you've branched out with locations in Los Angeles. Is there a difference in how you curate your West Coast shops versus your East Coast ones?

There's definitely a difference in how the East Coast and West Coast stores are curated. Our New York customer is casual, but since we opened in Los Angeles, we've noticed that the L.A. customer is even more so. In that respect, we stock our New York stores with more tailored pieces, things that can go from the workplace to a night out. Then there's the difference in climate. For instance, we stock lightweight outerwear year round in our West Coast stores. That, and we've learned that the color black does not sell in L.A.

Do you notice different shopping habits in your customers from store to store?

The basis of our company is the neighborhood shopper. We are not built on the tourist business. Having such a local focus allows us to be really in touch with the community, knowing what the local customers are buying and looking for, while also keeping our aesthetic intact.

Your sample sales have become must-attend events in New York City. How do you think that happened?

We've been doing the sample sales since 1998. I think it's become so popular because it's one of those events where you always run into someone you know and it's a chance to pick up such a wide variety of pieces. We love it because we get to see so many of our longtime customers in the span of just a few days. We did our first sample sale in Los Angeles in November of 2008, and it's turned out to be just as popular as the one in New York.

What's your latest discovery?

Outlier. It's a great New York City-based line of tailored bikewear that you can wear to bike to work and not have to change when you get there—classic styling with technical fabrics. They make an amazing pant [above, left] that we'll be selling in the store.

What's the last in-store item you took home for yourself?

The Reversible Shorts from my Summer 2011 collection [above, right]. The fit is great, and since they are fully reversible, it's essentially like having two shorts in one. Perfect for packing light for a weekend at the beach.

To shop online or find the nearest Steven Alan store go to

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