A California surfer-chic vibe meets laidback New England style at Huxter, a tiny menswear shop on Bay Street in the heart of the picturesque village of Watch Hill, Rhode Island. The town is known for its vintage carousel and beautiful beaches, but great men’s fashion is about the last thing I expected to find on my recent swing through the area.
Huxter beckons from the outside: cool peshtemal towels ($46) in muted shades of indigo and green stacked by the entrance reeled me in. Further delights awaited inside, including hand-sculpted Christenson surfboards (from $1,050) and an extensive array of Katin Dolphin surf trunks ($75). But the offerings here aren’t for your typical surfer dude – there are no technicolour board shorts or kitschy T-shirts. Instead, everything is thoughtfully designed and has been carefully selected by owner Read McKendree, who brings his photographer’s eye to the tiny, well-curated space.
I wasn’t looking for anything in particular on my latest visit, but Huxter’s own line of button-down shirts – long-sleeved versions in cotton and linen ($132), as well as striped popovers ($118) in the palest red and blue – won me over immediately. These shirts are cool, but not too cool for my husband, who is by no means a surfer and no longer in the first flush of youth. Even the Huxter T-shirts (from $28) in thick cotton, bearing just the brand’s understated wave logo, are a cut above. I stocked up on check shirts ($132), as well as a blue chambray basic, and my teenage son has since appropriated the two faded red and slate-blue T-shirts originally intended for my husband.
A utilitarian thread runs through all of Huxter’s offerings, right down to the Newport, Rhode Island-made Shore soaps ($8 per bar) and lotions ($20) infused with avocado oil, sea buckthorn and oat extracts. All of the packaging is spare and tasteful, and it was tempting to score some of the East surf wax ($3) based on the graphics alone.
It’s wonderful to find an under-the-radar brand that celebrates hand-crafted, locally made products that are both fashionable and functional, but since the store is only open from May to October, I’ll be turning to its website (which ships internationally) to stock up on basics with just the right amount of attitude.