Kinsman Shop Offers Essential Menswear, Life Philosophies
The Anglo-Saxons were the first to coin the word “kinsman.” Then, it pertained to any male relative; specifically, a brother. Today, here in Pittsburgh, the noun represents the name of a meticulously curated menswear boutique in Lawrenceville. Owned and solely operated by founder Courtney Powell, Kinsman Shop fosters everything its Old English roots suggest: camaraderie, community, family.
Also, really fantastic-looking menswear.
“I wanted to develop a place that was part of this community,” says Powell. “I felt like, all these amazing things are happening in Pittsburgh, right? Menswear just seemed to be really underrepresented.”
She wasn’t wrong. When Kinsman opened its doors in June 2016, it became only the second shop in Lawrenceville to cater exclusively to men. (Vestis, the brainchild of Phil Romagni, launched in September 2015.)
But for Powell, stocking high-quality wares and wardrobe essentials is merely a sliver of the equation.
“Hopefully [menswear] keeps growing as a part of the community,” she says. “That’s kind of my hope overall with Kinsman — that it would start at community. I wanted to create an experience and portray a lifestyle and give people access to that lifestyle.”
And with a glimpse at her storefront, we get it. The lifestyle, that is. Adjectives like bright and airy are imperative in describing the physical space, which required little more than “a fresh coat of paint” before its premiere. I note the room’s tin ceiling and copper trim, both originals; its neutral, uniform shelving, custom-built by a friend of Powell’s; its earthy, yet sporadically industrial fixtures. A palette of white, gray, and espresso is prominent, and the inventory — clean patterns, no-fuss labels, everyday basics — tends to follow suit.
Like so many consumers, ourselves included, Powell is constantly in pursuit of an escape from the indulgences we encounter in our daily lives. On her quest to simplify her own life; to resort to only what is essential, Kinsman was born.
“The idea behind Kinsman is that is should eliminate the excess,” she explains. “It’s really curated, simple, functional stuff. All the stuff that you need. I don’t want anyone to come in and feel overwhelmed, like there’s a ton of shit, you know? Excess does not equal happiness; [it] does not equal fulfillment. If anything, it’s detracting from all of that.”
Call us biased, but we felt a serious sense of empowerment as we perused Kinsman’s collections — a far cry from the deterrable, daunting nature of overcrowded retail chains. There’s an authenticity here — a grit, even — that appears to be lacking in the evolution of national consumerism. Kinsman, Powell tells us, was designed for those very connected to that realness.
“I think the Kinsman guy is someone who values a life well-lived, who lives with intention, and is deliberate in everything that he’s doing,” she says. “He’s really trying to craft a life and a lifestyle that suits him, and is for himself, and not for anyone else.
“The stuff in this shop, the way that I see it, should be the tools that you’re using to build that lifestyle that you want. I think it’s easy to think about clothes in a materialistic sort of way, or superficial. But I don’t view them like that. I think we all have to wear them. We’re kind of crafting an identity of sorts with them. So put good, simple, functional stuff on your body. You know what I mean?”
At Kinsman, that means ethically produced, American-made goods; and trusted brands with transparent supply chains. Classic, timeless apparel that can be worn for years; and well-made fits and fabrics that don’t follow contemporary trends.
Mostly, it’s the breath of fresh air we didn’t know we needed.
“I don’t really — this sounds ironic — I’m not really interested in fashion,” Powell adds. “I don’t consider any of this fashion. We’re all just people trying to get by and look OK while we’re doing it, right?”
Kinsman Shop is open Tuesday through Friday, 11am-6pm; Friday, 11am-6pm; Saturday, 11am-5pm; and Sunday, 12-5pm.
Kinsman Shop / 3818 Butler Street, Lawrenceville / 412.204.7316