EQUAL PARTS aspirationally charming and easy to mock, the (relatively) newly christened West End shopping district downtown is undeniably buzzy. It's home to some of the city's most sophisticated boutiques, among which Animal Traffic sits as a comfortable counterpoint. Contrasting with other shops' focus on intelligently designed home décor or must-have indie fashion stars, Animal Traffic has carved out its own niche with a selective mix of vintage and new clothing with a heaping dose of accessories. Its unique bent is a distinctly western focus, and visitors to the city are likely to confirm some of their stereotypes when greeted by, say, the hiking sock and boot display by the front door. Except that what Animal Traffic has done is take these western, rangy stylistic roots and turn them out in the most hip, updated, and excellently merchandised versions of themselves.
With an original location on North Mississippi, owner Tom Erickson says that having a second store was a "natural" decision, bolstered by a desire to reach out to a broader customer base than the sometimes isolated-feeling Mississippi scene. Driving around downtown, looking for interesting available retail spaces, he calls finding the small location just around the corner from the Ace Hotel "fortuitous," and tailored his merchandise even more selectively to suit the smaller square footage.
This week Erickson—along with his small staff of four—celebrate the completion of year one in the downtown location. Additionally, their long-in-coming online store should be live by the time this is published, which Erickson looks forward to using in order to give the lines he believes in greater exposure. Capping off the list of reasons to have the party is the debut of a limited-edition bow tie collaboration with PINO, in which designer Crispin Argento worked with Erickson to select a material that suited the shop, landing on beautiful, hand-loomed, colorful fabric from Guatemala.
As for plunging into the next year, look for Animal Traffic to deepen its collections of locally designed and produced offerings, and redoubled efforts to source products that aren't available elsewhere, joining western favorites like White's Boots, Minnetonkas, and Pendleton. Cheers to that. Anniversary/web store/PINO collaboration party, Animal Traffic, 429 SW 10th, Fri March 22, 5-8 pm.