Klaxon Howl: Back Alley Action

At Klaxon Howl, which reopened on Saturday, Matt Robinson sells the finest workwear from around the world. So when he decided to move his store to a new location, what kind of workwear did he wear?

“I designed these,” Robinson says of the jeans he is wearing. “They’re vintage denim.” He’s showing me around his new space, and he points to a buckle on the back of his pants. “The buckle’s typical of turn-of-the-century jeans. There were no belt loops.”

Robinson is an authority on premium vintage work clothes, the stuff worn by soldiers, farmers and factory labourers. In 2001, he opened Klaxon Howl on Queen St. W. and stocked it with labels like Woolrich and Macintosh. His house brand is often fabricated from vintage materials and hews to the historical look of vintage clothes.

Men who “like clothes with character and a back story” – that’s how Robinson characterizes his customers. Now, he’s giving them an equally interesting space: He’s relocated to a back alley, behind Magic Pony on Queen St. W.

“It’s an old coach house,” says Andrew Keats, a friend of Robinson’s who’s helping remodel the building. He’s standing with me in the alley: Gray barn doors draw back to give us a glimpse into the store. It’s flooded with sun from six skylights. Robinson’s also added green enamel light fixtures from the 1940s. Keats is wearing army pants from the 1950s. I’m not surprised: This must be the most stylish work crew in town.

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