Undercover Empire: Endovanera's Front St. in Echo Park
It’s almost as if David Hershberger and Mitch Moseley, the forces behind the men’s clothing line Endovanera, don’t want you to find their shop. It’s tucked beneath an underpass in Echo Park, and except for a small wooden sign that ambiguously reads “Front St.,” propped casually at the bottom corner of the storefront window, there’s little to indicate Endovanera’s presence. There’s barely a mention of the shop on the company’s Web site, and even Hershberger and Moseley seem a bit reluctant to talk about it.
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Sewing up Echo Park: Endovanera's David Hershberger, left, and Mitch Moseley
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Long and lean
“I don’t expect anybody to come by,” Hershberger said not long before the store first opened.
Despite the tight lips, word got out.
Endovanera has been wowing fashion critics ever since its five-piece debut at Gen Art’s Fresh Faces in 2005. That collection’s hoods, tapered pants and deconstructed sleeves recalled 17th-century England, 21st-century Tokyo and futuristic intergalactic style all at the same time, establishing the line’s quiet, heroic quality. Endovanera is already stocked in chic boutiques throughout the country (including Opening Ceremony and Fred Segal here in L.A.), but the new flagship gives the fop-rocker set access to designs that are unavailable anyplace else, including pieces from seasons past, items not produced anymore and runway items, as well as access to the full collection.
“It’s sort of like an outlet,” says Moseley. “You can find lots of sample one-of-a kind pieces, or pieces we didn’t get enough orders for but produced anyway just for our store.”
The real highlight of Front St., however, is access to Hershberger — the designing half of the Endovanera partnership — who sometimes makes himself available during shop hours for custom work. Cole Waterhouse handles most of the custom jobs when Hershberger is busy with the Endovanera line, but there are still many days when you can find Hershberger “hiding out,” as he says, in his work area at the back of the 1,400-square-foot space. There, behind a gauzy curtain, he draws patterns or sews on his vintage machine, while customers check out his collection of more than 100 different fabrics and hardware for made-to-order pants, jackets and jeans. (His résumé includes a line of jeans for Ron Herman.)
Hershberger, who is shy and soft-spoken, has a brooding, ethereal quality. With his long brown hair and otherworldly blue eyes, the lanky 24-year-old looks like an elf from Lord of the Rings, more at home in Rivendell than Los Angeles. He says his inspiration seems to always come from the same things: The Empire Strikes Back, Jedi knights and ninjas.
His designs attract everyone from hipster business types to fashion-conscious rocker/artist dudes (musician/raconteur Jack White owns several custom pieces), and even women who have caught on that some of the men’s pieces mix really well into their wardrobes. (A women’s line is coming next spring.)
The new, whitewashed, minimalist Front St. shop is a far cry from Hershberger’s former headquarters — an old boathouse in Orange County.
“The lighting is a lot better here,” says Hershberger, “but the vibe is still the same. There are still lots of people popping in and out.”
But why call the shop Front St. and not Endovanera? Moseley and Hershberger say they didn’t want to limit themselves, and they can support friends’ lines, like 1451 jewelry and Pop Goes the Spat, by carrying them in the store along with their own designs. And when Hershberger stumbled upon the carved wooden sign that read, “Front St.,” they saw it as, well, a sign.
“It’s cool to be two different entities,” says Hershberger.
He could be talking about himself and Moseley, with Moseley the more upbeat business guy to Hershberger’s more reticent self.
Moseley and Hershberger actually grew up around each other in Huntington Beach, but they didn’t become friends until two years ago. Moseley tells how he’d heard about “the kid who made custom jeans in an old boathouse.” Right after finishing an internship at a design house, Moseley found out that things had fallen through with Hershberger’s previous partner. He immediately contacted Hershberger about working together.
This spring, the pair produced an exhaustive collection of 33 looks for a Box Eight fashion-week show, and a few days later they opened the shop.
“I thought it would be great,” Hershberger says. “The rent is affordable, but I didn’t realize how much work it was going to be. It’s been a month.”
The space had been painted over many, many times, “all the colors of a fiesta,” drolls Hershberger. A couple of friends with some carpentry skills helped to build the shop.
So far, they say, it’s been interesting to see who drops by. “We can tell if people are familiar with the line,” says Hershberger, “by the way they’re dressed, how old they are or if they look like they belong in a lookbook.” Emo-model-hipster types should be in no short supply since they regularly flood the sidewalk outside the neighboring music joint, the Echoplex. And some nights, Moseley and Hershberger stay open past 8 p.m. in hopes of catching some of the runoff.
“But the crowd is always different,” Hershberger says, “and sometimes, you just kind of want to get away.”
Being tethered to the shop has been an adjustment for Hershberger, who clocks in seven days a week, except, “if it’s super hot,” he admits. “Then we might just close up and go to the beach.”
Front St., 1154 S. Glendale Blvd., Echo Park, (213) 413-6666. Mon.-Sun., noon-8 p.m.
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