Apolis (or Apolis: Community Centre if you’re feeling overly earnest) is the company’s second store, following on the Los Angeles flagship. The line was founded more than a decade ago with a mission of using the apparel industry as a source of social good. On its website, it bills itself as a Certified B Corporation, which is a kind of fair-trade stamp among for-profit do-gooders.
These are noble aims, and well worth considering when you go shopping. Knowing that people have benefited from the production of your garments, rather than suffered for them, significantly increases the pride in wearing them. And so I walked into Apolis with purpose, and hope.
Now, humility comes in many forms. At Apolis, the room is bare, the offerings meager, as if righteousness in fashion demanded a sort of monasticism. And the clothes — well-executed basics, with an occasional twist — don’t reflect a commitment to any particular aesthetic ideology, apart from modesty. (The most vivid thing happening in the store was actually taking place in the rear, where a festive gaggle was celebrating a pop-up of the Black Tux, a rental service.)
Often, the idea of labor was connoted by the clothes themselves: a handsome chore jacket, available in wool or denim or natural canvas ($198 to $278), or an indigo-dyed blazer ($328) with the mien of the Great Depression. A clever and handsome belt uses a nautical hook instead of a buckle ($88). Fabric and care information is printed on the inside of most garments, with the inspiration seemingly taken from how sacks of grain are decorated.
This is a joke, of course. No real work is to be done in these clothes. They’re designed for men inclined to read one of the aspirationally photographed, pseudo-literary magazines Apolis carries, like The Great Discontent and The Travel Almanac (or the book called “Profit & Purpose: How Social Innovation Is Transforming Business for Good”). Apolis sells candles, leather goods and, on the website, customizable market bags “handcrafted by moms in Bangladesh.”
But despite the conceptual frill, the clothes lean heavily toward the utilitarian, apart from one rack filled with clothes made in collaboration with Freak’s Store, from Japan (a project that began, according to the website, as “a design and job-creation project for victims from the 2011 Japan Tohoku Tsunami in Koriyama City, Fukushima”). There, you could find navy corduroy pants with an elastic waist ($280) and…