Menswear Maverick. Pop Up Purveyor. Hardcore Hustler. Make the rounds with A Continuous Lean’s Michael Williams.
“Every morning I wake up and check the comments section. People can be mean online.”
There are two days left before the fifth annual New York addition of the Pop Up Flea – a holiday shopping event that touts American-made brands and the idea of “shopping small” – but co-creator Michael Williams isn’t losing any sleep over the proceedings. He looks well rested when we arrive at his Renwick Street apartment, trailed to the door by his springer spaniel, Lancey. His morning secret? Well, just the shower. “Coffee doesn’t do it for me,” he explains. “I need that shower. I wake up and go straight in, even if I have a flight at 6am, I’ll be in the shower at 3 and ready to head to the airport.”
Williams is a multifaceted voice in the digital men’s style community. His blog, A Continuous Lean, is still widely read; long after most copy-driven men’s style blogs have gone dormant. (“Every morning I wake up and check the comments section,” he cracks. “People can be mean online.”) And he’s one half of both a PR and Marketing firm – Paul + Williams – and a creative agency – Tennis Partners. The Pop Up Flea, which now operates seasonally in New York, London, Tokyo and Detroit, is sort of the collision of all of his efforts into one entity.
Michael checks emails at the dining room table, a daily routine. Every thirty seconds, Lancey places a wet tennis ball he’s just tossed across the room for her into his lap and he tosses it again. “I can’t really eat or drink anything until I’ve been up for an hour or so,” he says. “So, usually I’ll wait to make coffee and just hang out with my wife, Liz, while she gets ready.” After Liz leaves, he’ll get dressed, trim his beard, and feed Lancey, who accompanies him to the office every day. “Come to think of it, Lancey has the most rigid routine in our house. Even if I’m traveling, I’ll have the girls in my office come and pick her up to go to the office.”
Before walking east towards Michael’s Soho HQ, we stop in to check on the folks at UK-based creative hub Bread Collective – they’re hand-painting signs for the Pop Up Flea. “The whole scam of PUF is Randy [co-founder Randy Goldberg] and I can’t do anything creatively, but we have all these creative people around us helping us look good.” Michael smiles.
He and Lancey walk a few drizzly blocks before he ducks into J.N. Natural Fruits Corp on 6th Avenue for Fage yogurt and seltzer water. “I thought about pretending that I spent my morning standing in line for a Cronut with my Kindle,” Williams jokes as he ducks back into the rain.
“I thought about pretending that I spent my morning standing in line for a Cronut with my Kindle.”
The Paul + Williams office occupies two adjacent spaces on Greene Street. Michael walks into his office and greets the team and Lancey falls down on her bed, exhausted from the commute. “I usually sit down at my desk first and check in on everything,” Michael says. “I like seeing where the day is headed.” Later, he’ll grab a coffee at Olives, down the street. “It’s a great local spot and they let me bring Lancey inside to wait. And being in Soho, surrounded by all these mega chains, it’s nice to support a small business. They’re one of the last ones here.” As he turns back to his computer he mutters: “Hell, we don’t need another Celine store, we need more little places to grab lunch.”