If you have haunting memories of being picked last in physical education class then you’d do well to avoid the newest store on New York’s fashionable Elizabeth Street. The Todd Snyder City Gym, a collaboration between the designer and the 94-year-old sportswear brand Champion, is all dark beadboard, metal pipes, and antique lockers. With black-and-white photographs on the wall and baseball bats stacked in the corner, the place is reminiscent of nothing so much as a prep school locker room. The clothes – T-shirts, sweatshirts, and basic oxfords – all look as though they were carefully selected and worn in by someone’s cooler older brother.
That ubiquitous poster claiming that “pain is weakness leaving the body” has been replaced with a famous Muhammad Ali quip – “Don’t quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion” – painted on the wall. Otherwise, the store has pretty much anything you’d find in a locker room: towels, boxing gloves, footballs, boiled-wool blankets, cage lights, and plenty of Converse. With such a jock-friendly, collegial vibe, you get the feeling a pickup game might break out at any time. And it does. When we visited, several customers were carefully tossing a fur-covered football back and forth.
The reason for their timidity? The clothes at the City Gym are sportswear inspired, but not sportswear priced. A fifties-style cardigan sweatshirt goes for $195 and leather-sleeved letterman jackets cost $795. The tags reflect what the pieces represent: the apotheosis of workout casual. Likewise, the space feels like the platonic ideal of gymnasium. If there were any actual workout gear, we’d sign up immediately. [Todd Snyder City Gym, 242 Elizabeth Street, New York]