A little slice of SoHo heaven is now available in the Queen City.
Tucked away in a corner of the same South End plaza as Pewter Rose is a new international street wear boutique, The Benjamin Bear. The intimate loft space with exposed brick, piping and lots of natural light caters to the underground concept and vibe behind the Benjamin Bear brand. Owner Patrick Hill calls it "international, contemporary street."
Hill, 28, started screen printing as a side gig about seven years ago. The corporate Web designer says he always knew he wanted to do his own project. In January, his idea finally came to fruition when The Benjamin Bear opened its doors.
"The whole plan was to go vertical with it — do flagship stores. So I started here and then hopefully they'll be in Raleigh and Charleston, and we'll go from there," he says.
The Benjamin Bear is a place to scoop up an awesome screen print tee, a killer pair of jeans, a limited edition Hall of Fame N.Y. Knicks cap, or an ultra practical "Rucksack," complete with an internal laptop sleeve and climate control pouch to keep a few beers for the road. In addition to his two lines, The Benjamin Bear and Popyalar, Hill wants to stick with limited edition merchandise that can't readily be found at any other shop. Sometimes, the brands are so exclusive that Hill receives a shipment of only three or fewer pieces.
"If another store picks it up, I'll drop the brand, no questions asked ... because there's so many brands out there that look good, and there are a lot that fit my niche. I can pick up another one and keep everyone fresh in the city," Hill says.
Much of the inventory hails from New York, L.A. or Miami, focusing on international brands, like London-based Supremebeing, Better Off Dead, Singapore's hardcore, underground street brand, and Industry Of All Nations, an organic sneaker and clothing line made in Africa with profits going back to the people of Uganda.
The Benjamin Bear also carries women's attire, mixing contemporary street wear with a fashionable edge. It's more than just sneakers and tees; the shop also offers rompers, skirts, tanks and dresses.
"You know women, they like to dress up, no matter what," Hill says.
A true neighborhood spot, The Benjamin Bear will showcase artwork and host events to stay active in the community. Since its opening, the store has already done an art exhibit and music release party for a local R&B artist.
Make sure to attend the store's grand opening, dubbed "Genesis," on April 21 from 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Free T-shirts, gift certificates and more will be given out, and from 3 p.m.-5 p.m. designers from Hill's Popyalar brand will be there to scout out models for a look book.
The Benjamin Bear is located at 1820 South Blvd., Suite 108. www.thebenjaminbear.com.