Fast forward to 2010, when the brothers decided to launch their own fashion venture. Going grassroots, Don and Won sold their cars to fund an online menswear shop, with the hope that they would one day take their business from the web to a brick-and-mortar location.
“It was four years of hard work, but we were lucky enough to take the next step and open up our own retail store location,” Don says.
Last year, Don and Won opened ‘Niftydo’ – one of Gastown’s newer offerings in a growing menswear scene. It’s a bit of a hidden gem, but the pair stock an unprecedented selection of handsome workwear and locals are digging the array of Japanese and North American threads.
Opening a retail business without a background in fashion seems risky, but the brothers have an approachable sense of style that appeals to the simple man and translates seamlessly into the store’s selection.
Don and Won exert a humble approach to fashion – it’s not about the name on the label, or the latest looks in GQ magazine. “We carry garments made with quality materials and craftsmanship,” he says. When choosing designs, they carefully examine works from lesser-known brands.
“Denim has always been the main focus of our store,” says Don. “We stock handcrafted denim products that are produced in small batches to ensure highest quality possible.”
The stocklist was built on what Don and Won wear day-to-day. Comfort and durability are important factors. Among the list of new arrivals is orSlow – a Japanese brand that reinterprets military workwear into modern basics. And next month, they’ll add one of Don’s favourite staples, Japanese-made ‘Loop-Wheeled T-Shirts’. “What is so special about them is that the cotton fabric is fed into vintage loop-wheeling machines from the 20’s without pulling down, which allows for unmatched softness. Each machine can produce only a meter of fabric per hour.”
Denim heads on the hunt for unconventional jeans should check out Indigo Momohiki from Prospective Flow (left). The design was based on traditional Japanese “Momohiki” work trousers, giving Gastown guys something completely different.
As for tips on how men can achieve the “effortless” look, Don recommends going back to basics and investing in great staples. “Anyone can make a simple look seem stylish. It can start with a plain tee. Match it with denim and make sure it’s tailored to your body.”
With an impeccable selection of handcrafted denim and genuine leather goods, Niftydo has set itself apart as a local source for well-made menswear. The shop’s refreshingly modest approach is perfectly in-line with their understated attitude.
“We don’t want to be a store that merely follows fashion trends. We always look for items that will stand the test of time and give you good memories.”