Meet the couple behind Venture Men’s Goods.
Photography by Angela Decenzo
Inside Venture Men’s Goods, in Lafayette, sturdy denim and crisp chambray shirts are neatly stacked on handcrafted wooden tables, next to framed photographs of the clothing brands’ owners and designers. A small but thoughtful selection of fitted flannels and wool sweaters hangs from iron shelving, and earthy candles flicker next to books on fatherhood from famous coaches and surfers.
“We see guys literally breathe a sigh of relief when they walk into our store,” says Tom Stenzel, who co-owns Venture with his wife, Rosylyn. “Guys here are looking for something high quality, but they don’t want it to be too tricky and feel like they’re wearing a costume. We wanted to make them feel comfortable with the clothing and store aesthetic.”
The Lafayette couple thought of the family-friendly community they’ve been a part of for 13 years when stocking the store. Venture features a Lego- and iPad-equipped children’s area, and focuses on California–based brands that emphasize workmanship. “Over the past few years, with the struggling economy, people are a lot more aware of where their things are coming from,” says Tom. “They appreciate supporting the local community.”
And it’s not just the guys being catered to here. Venture recently began carrying a small selection of women’s wear, so men can pick up a little something for the missus while they do their shopping. “When I was a kid, my grandfather would always bring home a bouquet of flowers to my grandmother every Friday,” says Tom. “To see them engage in that way was really special. The items we offer just last longer than a bouquet.”
1. Know your size.
“One guy was wearing a size too big, and we helped him find some clothes that fit,” says Rosylyn. “Now, they’re the only things he wears.” Try a shirt from San Francisco’s Taylor Stitch, which cuts them slim, not blousy.
2. Look at the expiration date.
“Some guys have been wearing the same stuff for 10 years,” Tom says. “You can find new things that reflect your personality.” Ibex merino wool sweaters, cut and sewn in the Bay Area, have been a huge hit, and are easy to wash.
3. Act your age.
“Young stuff isn’t going to look cool … unless you’re in a band or working at a tech start-up,” says Tom. Try SeaVees shoes, made in Santa Barbara. “They are more sophisticated, and come with a memory foam foot bed.”
4. Mind the gap.
Jeans should hit right at the ankle. Tom recommends Tellason, which cuts and sews its denim in San Francisco, and does its own hemming. “Tellason is making the best jeans on the market right now,” he says.
3571 Mt. Diablo Blvd., Lafayette, (925) 385-0259, venturemensgoods.com.