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Luxury retailer Wilkes Bashford shutters Carmel store

I was surprised to see the news that the Carmel-by-the-Sea outpost of San Francisco-based luxury clothier Wilkes Bashford closed its doors for good Monday.

Wilkes_logo According to fashion industry trade paper WWD (subscription required to read the full story), the 10,000-square-foot store that opened in Carmel Plaza in August 2006 was shuttered as a result of the ongoing recession, leaving just the original flagship store on Sutter Street, just off San Francisco's Union Square, and a Palo Alto location.

Wilkes Bashford started his namesake retail venture in 1966, and has earned a reputation for his men's offerings, including suits by Kiton, Brioni and Ermenegildo Zegna (WWD points out that in 1967 he was the first American retailer to carry Zegna). Today he's practically an institution unto himself.

I found the news particularly sad for two reasons. First, interviewing the affable, impeccably dressed Bashford was one of the first assignments I had after joining Fairchild Publications menswear trade paper DNR. Second, I found myself in the Carmel store just 10 days ago, frantically searching for stand-ins for a misplaced stud set just hours before a wedding.

Even though the sales associate didn't have exactly what I needed, stud-wise, he noticed the frantic look in my eye and offered a pre-wedding shot of tequila to take the edge off.

I had to pass, but it was a wholly impressive act of customer service that I won't soon forget. 

-- Adam Tschorn

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