Wilkes Bashford

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Wilkes Bashford is a pair of men’s and women’s specialty stores in California, renowned for their exceptional customer service, exquisite designer clothing, jewelry and accessories, and multi-generational relationships with designers and customers alike. In November 2009, Wilkes Bashford was acquired by Mitchells Stores (read more at Jack Mitchell (author).

The store was opened in 1966 by Wilkes Bashford, its namesake, and has long catered to the elite, including former San Francisco Mayor Willie Brown. The original store is in the Union Square Shopping District in San Francisco, California. Later the company expanded with an additional location in the Stanford Shopping Center in Palo Alto, California.

The store was one of the first in the United States to carry Ermenegildo Zegna.[citation needed] It is sold alongside other exclusive brands such as: Brioni, Brunello Cucinelli, Loro Piana, Kiton, Missoni, Pucci, Oxxford Clothes, Oscar de la Renta, Valentino, and more. The store has a shoe department featuring Manolo Blahnik, Christian Louboutin, Bontoni, John Lobb and Gravati.

The store's namesake Wilkes Bashford died of prostate cancer on January 16, 2016 at the age of 82.[1]

About Wilkes[edit]

One of the world’s most influential men in fashion, Wilkes Bashford was a constant presence in his stores up until his death in January 2016 at age 82. He was a fixture on Esquire’s “International Best Dressed List” since 1972 and the first retailer to bring many top designers from Italy, including Giorgio Armani, into the United States. Wilkes set the stage for men’s fashion in Northern California and was part of San Francisco’s “local fabric.” Brunello Cucinelli referred to him as a “human being constantly in love with fashion.”

Wilkes opened his original Union Square store in 1966, across from its current location, with a vision to serve a high-end customer he deemed “the bold conservative.” Over the years, Wilkes expanded his store, eventually moving to his famed seven-story townhouse in 1984. He added a women’s department in 1978 and in 2001 opened a Palo Alto store to cater to the Silicon Valley crowd.

Wilkes was very involved in the community, hosting countless charity events and inviting renowned entertainers as he believed fashion and show business are inextricably intertwined. He enjoyed a lot of media attention, palling around San Francisco with long-time best friend, Willie Brown, the former Mayor of San Francisco and a renowned fashionista, who referred to him as “part of the heart of the city.”

Wilkes Bashford stores are known for their highly educated and diverse staff. Wilkes’ sales associates are fiercely loyal, passionate about fashion, and deliver a level of service that goes outside of the stores and into the customers’ homes and personal lives, when needed.

In December 2009, Wilkes Bashford became part of Mitchell Stores, owned by a family he knew for over 25 years through industry events and European buying trips. Like Wilkes, the Mitchells family share a similar aesthetic and strong commitment to community and customer service.

In 1999, Tyler Mitchell, a third generation Mitchell, relocated to San Francisco to help run Wilkes Bashford. A quick “fixture” in the San Francisco community himself, Mitchell is cited by the company as "instrumental in transforming the Wilkes Bashford aesthetic and vision for a new generation."

In November 2012, Wilkes Bashford and the Mitchell family unveiled the full renovations of both Wilkes Bashford stores. Wilkes San Francisco was gutted, rewired, and re-imagined as a metaphorical 7-story townhouse, conceived in the “Mitchells tradition,” to make customers feel as if they are being welcomed into a gracious home. The Mitchells worked closely with renowned San Francisco architect firm Gensler to create the renovated store.

Wilkes Palo Alto location was also transformed. Both stores feature new world-class designer boutiques, expanded jewelry departments and newly added men’s and women’s designers.

Controversies[edit]

In 1985, founder Wilkes Bashford and partner Jack Guillaume were charged with cheating the City of San Francisco out of $1 million in rent. [2]

In popular culture[edit]

Wilkes Bashford merchandise is an "addiction" for a wealthy closeted gay character, Beauchamp Day, in Armistead Maupin's eponymous first book from the Tales of the City series, which is mostly set in San Francisco.

References[edit]

  1. ^ Carolyne Zinko (2016-01-16). "Luxury clothier Wilkes Bashford dies after battle with cancer - SFGate". M.sfgate.com. Retrieved 2016-01-30. 
  2. ^ Carolyne Zinko (2010-12-19). "Wilkes Bashford had rent trouble in 1985 - SFGate". M.sfgate.com. Retrieved 2018-05-15. 

External links[edit]