Iowa fashion aficionados take note: The September edition of Esquire magazine lists Des Moines’ Badowers as the second best menswear store in the country.
“Actually,” Manager Kevin Hansen says modestly, the numbers “aren’t like the AP college basketball lists. They’re not a ‘ranking’ ranking. I’ve been trying to clarify that all day. It’s great press, and it’s still a cool honor, but I would just say that Badowers is ‘one of the best menswear stores in America.'”
Founded in the 1950s, the retailer is the oldest establishment in the Midwest Clothiers family of businesses, which includes Proper (women’s fashion), The Backroom (a liquidation store that provides “the same service experience” as its higher-priced sibling stores), Fish Creative Services (an in-house creative agency) and Mr B. (which also sells menswear).
Per Hansen, Badowers and Mr. B have only been under the same ownership for around 15 years, with Badowers being “a little more modern,” with “more emphasis on being current [and] more Italian clothing” — a deliberate distinction in which Hansen played an active role.
After working for the company and then freelancing as a stylist and personal shopper, Hansen returned to Badowers five years ago “to make it a more contemporary store.” As its primary curator, Hansen keeps an eye on the cutting edge of menswear, but maintains that “I want my guys to fit in anywhere in the country. Wherever they go, whatever they’re doing — I want them to look their best. We’re not real trendy. Some of the things we feature might look flashy, but I would say they’re pretty classic.”
Esquire wholeheartedly agrees. “The key to this 60-some-year-old’s stamina,” the magazine details, “is that many of its better-selling brands right now barely existed 6 years ago, much less 60.” Among the brands featured at Badowers are Todd Snyder’s Tailgate Clothing Co. and his eponymous menswear line. The New York-based Snyder — a CFDA Menswear of the Year nominee who got his start working at Badowers during his summers studying fashion at Iowa State — recently partnered with Nate Kaeding to open a Tailgate store on South Clinton Street in Iowa City.