By Kathleen Nicholson Webber
Originally posted on The Americanologists on October 18, 2015.
In November of 2012, the giant red doors of Stars & Stripes Ltd. on Philadelphia’s Chestnut Street were opened to the public. The building is a circa-1881 decommissioned Gothic-style church with original wood details and soaring leaded glass windows. Inside, you’ll find an elegant shop with a stylish collection of American-made clothing and home goods.
The store is owned by the husband and wife team of Jan and Robert Chevalier. Ten years ago they bought the church to house Robert’s furniture business, but left the parish house empty. A friend suggested it would make a great store. “Why not?” thought Robert, who has been an entrepreneur his whole life. ” I never want to look back and say I wish I had tried that.”
They filled the space with antique displays, but found it challenging to stock those displays with the Made-in-USA clothes they imagined. Their first season, they found only 30-40 vendors. “We found, in the beginning, everyone wanted to talk about it but no one wanted to do it,” says Robert.
“We would stop by booths at the trade shows and tell them that we wanted Made-in-America merchandise. They’d say, ‘Good luck with that’,” says Jan. Now the store, which is meticulously styled with vintage art, artifacts and accessories, has merchandise from close to 175 vendors. They also wanted the merchandise to cater to a range of customers – from the college student to the career person who lives or works in the area.
The look at Stars & Stripes is classic American style with a twist. The men’s area is stocked with heritage brands like Bills Khakis (above), which makes sportswear ranging from boxers to overcoats; Haspel,which brings a new perspective to traditional gentleman’s style; Gitman and New England Shirt Co, two storied Ameircan shirt-makers; B. Ella, a knitting mill producing fun and comfortable socks for men and women; R. Hanauer, a manufacturer of classic silk repp ties and bowties, and Schott NY, a company that has made iconic coats for over 100 years.
On the women’s side of the store there are Leota, NY wrap dresses, architectural-looking career separates from Nora Gardener, new takes on classic shirts from Bell by Alicia Bell and merchandise from Fresh Laundry, like the sweater coat shown above. In accessories, there’s jewelry by Jan Michaels of San Francisco and Brewster Designs of Lambertville, NJ.
Felt and leather Graf and Lantz (Los Angeles) handbags pop on the shelves and are among the most popular items in the store.
Home pieces include Faribault Woolen Mills throws (Faribault, MN), and Visual Comfort Lighting (Houston, TX).
Stars and Stripes Ltd. is open daily 10 to 6, Sundays from 11 to 5. The store is located at 2129 Chestnut Street, Philadelphia PA. They can be contacted at (215) 587-2129.