Launched in 2009, the Pop Up Flea, which boasts the tagline "a short-term store for long-term goods," setup shop at the 69th Regiment Armory on Lexington Avenue for a few days this past December, just in time for last minute holiday shopping. Similar to past years, the stores and brands making up the vendor list were some of the leading names in small business menswear from all around the country. The event has traditionally done a terrific job of shining a light on quality goods that have a strong connection to heritage and craftsmanship, with this years event following suit.
For those who have not attended in the past, the cavernous space of the Armory is quite a departure from the typical light and airy loft-like setting that has been used in previous years. Typically serving as the headquarters for the New York Army National Guard's First Battalion, the Armory will often lend itself to similar events on weekends. The tradition dates back to 1913 when it was first used for an art show, boasting works by the likes of Picasso and Van Gogh. The space has also been host to more than half a dozen Victoria's Secret Fashion Shows dating back to 2003. The New York Knicks even played some games there back in the forties and fifties, evidenced by the faded lines of a basketball court on the ground.
Parked in the center of the towering room was a camouflaged Humvee with vendor booths scattered around. Custom banners and flags with catch-phrases hung from the surrounding mezzanine, adding a lightness and touch of color to the otherwise rigid and Army green drenched surroundings. While this years event hosted a number of great brands and companies from all over, below are a few of our favorites from the group.
- Rancourt & Co. (Lewiston, ME) - Leather shoes of all different styles, both casual and formal, that have been handcrafted in Maine since 1967. The brand has since expanded into other offerings such as belts, leather bags and even outerwear.
- Billykirk (New York, NY) - Brothers Chris and Kirk Bray started their leather and canvas design company 17 years ago. Their product selection features a wide array of well-crafted bags and belts, as wells as a variety accessories such as luggage tags, wallets and leather valet trays, which can be customized with initials (something the brothers were doing themselves right before your eyes).
- Proraso (Italy) - Italian born shaving products that are made with eucalyptus oil and menthol for a refreshing feel. C.O. Bigelow, which is the oldest apothecary in America, is the primary importer of the product in the U.S., and were offering up free straight razor shaves using various Proraso products. They carry the full line at both their store in New York City and on their website.
- Topo Designs (Denver, CO) - With a large selection of bags & packs, accessories and clothing for both men and woman, Topo Design's products are both functional and visually appealing, featuring simple designs and vibrant colors in all of their products. Visit one of their three stores scattered throughout Colorado.
- Askov Finlayson (Minneapolis, MN) - Named after two neighboring towns in Northern Minnesota, Askov Finlayson offers a selection of menswear brands in addition to its very own label. If you ever happen to be in Minneapolis, visit their flagship store which is housed in a historic warehouse that it shares with a pair of James Beard semifinalists establishments - The Bachelor Farmer and Marvel Bar - all three of which are owned by brothers Andrew and Eric Dayton.
- Three Potato Four (Media, PA) - Channeling a vintage aesthetic and nostalgia, Three Potato Four sells a variety of items made popular in past decades like the classic black and white letter boards, felt pennants and motel style key chains.