The King of Cool feat. Kevin Carney

December 21st, 2015

When we first moved from NYC I didn’t know much about the menswear scene here in Los Angeles. As it turns out, New Yorkers don’t talk about LA nearly as much as Angelenos talk about New York. One guy that I did hear about, though, was Kevin Carney, owner and operator of the Mohawk General Store in Silverlake. 

After cruising the Sunset store and meeting Kevin in person, I could see why this was one of the few shops that I’d heard about from across the country. With more than 25 years experience on every side of the menswear business (branding, buying, pattern-making, design, shopkeeping, etc) it’s no secret why all three of Kevin’s locations have seen success.

The guy is a student of the game with a uniquely critical eye for design. He and his team routinely travel the world (never missing favorite design hot-spots like Paris and Tokyo) to add to the meticulously curated selection of rare garments hanging on the singular rack in his menswear shop. His expertise, in my opinion, is discovering classic-inspired menswear that is versatile and wearable, but incorporates innovative design and technical fabrications. Think bonded interior-waterproof cashmere overcoats, t-shirts in slubbed Italian linen/silk blends, eyeglasses with clip-on shade lenses hand-carved in Japan, lightweight patterned scarves straight from Paris fabric houses, etc.

In the spirit of LA’s fashion season (“winter”), we caught up with the Poughkeepsie NY/Raleigh NC native to talk menswear and get a lesson in the art of staying cool. 

    On Finding Inspiration


    “It started in my mother’s sewing room when I was about 10 years old. For me sewing was a creative challenge and a way to customize garments. 

    In Junior High School I was influenced by my music heroes like Michael Stipe (R.E.M.) and Paul Weller (The Jam). At the time I was buying alot of cultural / fashion magazines like I-D and The FACE. I was also influenced alot by Sean Stussy and surf culture. I was on the east coast but really connected with what was going down on the west coast; the surf and skate scene, both fashion-wise and also with their graphic design aesthetic. When I was 17 I was going to clubs in NYC like The Tunnel, The Red Zone, Nell’s, so at the time the convergence of west coast publication, New York street style and the craziness of club culture was the ‘runway’ for me. 

    I’d say I’ve been in a constant ‘phase’ of change and discovery ever since…”


    • Glasses by Eyevan
    • Scarf by Our Legacy
    • Shirt by Our Legacy
    • Pants by Engineered Garments
    • Ring by Mohawk x Matt Ready
    • Shoes by Hender Scheme

    It Starts in Tokyo


    “Later I went to college and graduated with a degree in clothing and textiles from UNC Greensboro, which at the time, was a major textile and apparel center. I was hired as a designer for a clothing brand on the west coast and finally made the trek. After a few years designing menswear I took a break and, somehow, ended up being a pattern-maker and sample cutter for a women’s brand. In 1991 I took my few years of experience and decided to start my own company in San Francisco called Biast, with about $3,000. I began selling a lot in Japan and was able to build the brand relatively quickly with an international following.

    In 1997 my curiosity got the best of me (again) and I decided to move (again) to NYC where I started a brand called Generic Costume…then moved on to shoe design and started Generic Man and Generic Surplus.  Now here I am in Los Angeles with three shops and an online store, and it’s all coming full-circle as we design and develop our own in-house brand SMOCK… We have an office set-up in Tokyo and are working on some collaborations with local brands there.”

    From my conversations with Kevin I learned that the Tokyo market has the most diverse menswear offering, and local manufacturers are constantly pushing the envelope in terms of innovations in technical design. Combined with their appreciation for classic menswear (and old-school Americana) it’s easy to see why designers that are on the cutting-edge of menswear are spending a lot of their time in Japan.


    • Glasses by Ahlem
    • Coat by Officine Generale
    • Shirt by Engineered Garments
    • Scarf by Needles
    • Pants by NLST

    Location, Location, Location


    “With the internet new brands are popping up frequently and easier to find, but many do not operate in the normal delivery schedule so it can be a challenge.  I try to find brands that I can incubate and grow. Brands that I personally connect with.

    OAMC is one of the brands to watch. The designer Luke Meier was my design assistant before he went to SUPREME, so he really knows his details and can dream up new ones…he’s a very creative guy. Hender Scheme footwear from Japan is also incredibly well-made. The price is quite high but don’t sleep on it…quality footwear is an investment.”


    So Kevin, as someone thinking of starting a menswear store, what are your top 3 pieces of advice?

    Can I repeat the word location 3 times…?


    • Glasses by Eyevan
    • Jacket by OAMC
    • Sweatshirt by Issey Miyake
    • Wool jersey shorts by White Briefs
    • Leggings by John Elliott
    • Shoes by Our Legacy

    Thanks, as always, for reading and special thanks to Kevin for participating!

    Yours in style,

    Dan Trepanier

    Photography by Alex Crawford.

    • JoeFromTexas

      Late to the party, but glad to see profiles coming back, even if it’s not exactly my cup of tea. I know this site has come a long way since I started reading it as TSB (back when it was still an acronym). But my favorite part is and has always been the profiles of the interesting people you come across wearing their clothes and telling their story. Even if I’m not exactly feeling it, I usually take something away from profiles like this.

      • Dan Trepanier

        Same here. We have some really great profiles coming up. 2016 is going to be a big one for content expansion… Cheers JoeFromTexas!

    • Borel

      This is unrelated to the post, but are you ever gonna do one of those giveaways you used to do?

      • Dan Trepanier

        Perhapssss…. :)
        What would you like to see in a new giveaway?

        • Borel

          I think some basics (shirt, jeans, loafers) from brands that you would recommend would be great, and maybe one or two items from your collection would def make it even more interesting.

    • TO

      Love the Japanese sneakers in look #1. About a year ago, I learned about nude leather and that one of the only brands doing it was Hender Scheme. Taking suggestion from Yang Goh’s profile, I checked out the Toronto (rare) Japanese clothing store Blue Button Shop, and got to see some of their product in person. Dope. They even do a nude leather pigskin bucket hat that’s supposed to be incredibly water deterring/proof.

      It’s great here that Mr. Carney is able to implement a lot of trends into his outfits, which is obviously good for business, without having to sacrifice the overall integrity of the look ‘working’ as a whole. It just makes things more interesting, especially satisfying to the viewer if he/she chooses to be “visually greedy” as The Sartorialist Mr. Scott Schuman puts it, instead of necessarily choosing to access the photos in comparison to outfit archetypes.

    • Bronello_Cucinelli

      I hate when it’s cold enough for a scarf but not cold enough for socks…

      • facelessghost

        To paraphrase the cinematic masterpiece Cloudy with a Chance of Meatballs 2, “is is winter on your neck but summer on your ankles?”

      • TO

        I know what you’re trying to do but may I point out that in reality it looks quite possibly to be a linen scarf…

    • Vincent Nappi

      I’ve always loved the blend of editorials you guys have on this site, from the traditional to the forward thinking. Super fun stuff.