Photos: Brian Ferry
Words: Sean Hotchkiss
"Sit on the toilet, shower and shave – that’s what guys do right?"
“We don’t deviate too much around here.” Mike Maher tosses a dishtowel over his shoulder. He picks up the skillet on the stovetop. He is going to make us eggs. “Barrett [my business partner] and I are roommates, so everything kind of happens exactly the same way every morning.”
Mike and his partners started Taylor Stitch in 2009 by designing American-made sportswear in limited quantities that they release weekly on their website. Their store in the Mission district of San Francisco is a popular spot for locals to pick up custom-made shirting, selvedge denim, and outerwear. Not so coincidentally, starting the business afforded Mike the opportunity to create a comfortable, little universe for himself. And in this universe everything has its place: his apartment is a mile or so from the Taylor Stitch store. A few blocks south, his office is housed in a converted auto repair shop. His team gets coffee every morning at the same spot. Take a lap around the neighborhood with Mike as your guide, and every few feet, someone will stop him to chat. Mention you're free for lunch and he'll have a restaurant (and companions) lined up.
Several days a week, before the sun comes up, Mike is on his road bike. And his ride – crossing the Golden Gate Bridge and heading up Hawk Hill in the Marin Headlands – “is one of the most beautiful sights there is.” Back at home afterwards, “I'm usually the last to shower,” says Mike. “And my grooming routine is pretty simple: sit on the toilet, shower and shave – that’s what most guys do, right?" He uses Dr. Bronner’s peppermint soap and cleans up his cheeks and neck with a Truman razor. He tosses on a Taylor Stitch chambray shirt, canvas chinos and boots, and heads to the kitchen, where a glass of beet and ginger juice is waiting, courtesy of Barrett. Two expertly cracked and fried eggs later we’re headed for the office in Mike’s weathered Nissan Pathfinder.
The next order of business is coffee. Mike sticks to cavernous Four Barrel, which also happens to be 50 yards from the Taylor Stitch store. “This place is like the heart of our community. All the locals hang out and bullshit. Everyone here is doing something interesting.” After an Americano, we head to the office. The façade of Taylor Stitch HQ is jet black and nondescript. A white sign with red lettering reads: Japan Auto. “People still duck in occasionally and ask for an oil change.” He laughs. “We love having no real sign. We want people to feel comfortable dropping by, even if there’s no business to discuss.”
Inside, the reclaimed wood floors are from an old bowling alley. Empty kegs of beer share space with boxes of indigo T-shirts. Mike looks at the calendar – it’s Monday – and begins to plan for the week ahead. As we pack up to leave, he mentions dinner later. A friend of his has procured a chicken and wants to roast it up, drink some wine, and feed a few people. “Just swing back here at six,” he says. “It's close by. We can walk over.”
"At our house, everything kind of happens exactly the same way every morning."