Story and Photos by Remy Sisk
Though it seems the options for women are somewhat limitless in the Louisville world of fashion consignment, men have far fewer choices. However, since 2009, one business has been striving to offer gentlemen of the community options to not only swap in clothing they’re not wearing anymore but also find a myriad of new staples they may add to their wardrobe. And I’m speaking from experience – I found my entire Speed Gala 2016 ensemble at Evolve: The Men’s Resale Store.
In 2009, Gerry Mattingly founded Evolve at its current location on Frankfort Avenue. In the first year, Brett Howard became a regular customer and consignor, and the two became close friends. Five years later, Howard moved away but soon learned that Mattingly was battling a severe stage of cancer. Subsequently, the two became closer than they ever had been and enjoyed spending time traveling together. In 2015, Mattingly slipped into a coma, and it was clear that this was his time.
In the days that followed, his family asked Howard if he would consider managing Mattingly’s store. Howard was reluctant at first, but the family was determined to entrust the business to someone who was close to Mattingly. They then offered to simply give Howard the store, at which point he accepted and became the new owner of Evolve.
“I was literally given the keys and a check for what was in the bank account at the time and was just sort of told, ‘Here you go!’” Howard recounts. “I didn’t know how to operate the software and I had no idea where things stood with anything, and neither did his family.” Nonetheless, reviving Evolve became a passion project for Howard, who saw endless possibility in the unique brand.
“So I went in, just tried to change the branding, paint the building, change the website – just kind of give everything a facelift, and that’s essentially what we did,” Howard explains. The aesthetic of Evolve began to change and come into modernity. “If it’s possible to do it, if consignment could ever be exciting or a little bit more trendy, I wanted to do it.”
Now, Evolve functions as what Howard calls “a man’s resource,” offering an extraordinarily wide assortment of men’s clothing. “It’s hard to be something for everyone” he says. “The guy who wants a Ralph Lauren polo is not the same guy who wants an expensive Italian sportcoat. When you post items, you want to make sure you’re not isolating people. You have to find that median of diversity for promotion.”
Clearly, Howard has indeed found that median as the business is unquestionably busy, never more so than around spring wedding season and Derby. A following has thus developed with several men utilizing the full cycle of consignment. “My favorite customers are the type that often never end up using their own money in the store,” Howard describes, “in the sense that they’re bringing items in, they’re using that credit and they’re buying items in the store.”
There’s also a charitable component to Evolve; it donates inventory it won’t be using to One for All, a nonprofit thrift and consignment shop whose profits benefit House of Ruth to help in its efforts to support those touched by HIV/AIDS. “Evolve is essential in keeping our men’s clothes well stocked – suits, shoes, sweaters, polos – you name it they donate it!” exudes One for All Founder Les Downs.
Looking to the future, Howard is considering expanding his current footprint in Louisville or possibly opening another location in a nearby city. For the time being, however, he’s happy to keep helping the men of Louisville look their best for any occasion, because whatever it may be, Evolve has just the outfit you’re looking for. VT
Evolve: The Men’s Resale Store
2416 Frankfort Ave.