Borne of renewed interest in classic American workwear brands -- sometimes called the "heritage movement" -- the curated shop is more revival than new phenomenon, said Jesse Thorn, creator of the popular menswear blog, "Put This On."
"Men now want to know where their clothes come from in a way they didn't before, and they want to know about the quality of their clothes in a way they didn't before," Thorn said. "That was at the center of the 'heritage movement' before the marketers got hold of it, and it's a sea change in the marketplace. The effects of that change are going to stick around, even after people stop buying defunct workwear brands and opening boutiques that sell colorfully-painted axes."
The rise of casual menswear and national retail contributed to the decline of the men's store in the mid-20th century, but they're becoming hip once again, thanks to increasing interest in American-made products and quality brands from abroad.
When 27-year-old Eli Cox opened Berkeley Supply Store on a credit card in November 2012, he stocked it exclusively with American-made brands that he liked: Red Wing boots, Taylor Stitch shirts, Filson coats and Rogue Territory jeans -- clothes with a workwear feel, but a little more refined.
In New York and Portland, "you can't swing a cat without hitting one of these shops," Cox said. In Denver, his biggest competition was J.Crew, he said.
After closing out his first year in the black, he attributes his success to "like-minded" millennials flooding the city in recent years, creating a market for these goods.
Other Denver-based outlets are tapping into the Rocky Mountain lifestyle for inspiration.
When their shop Armitage & McMillan opens in March, owners Darin Combs and Daniel Armitage plan to stock it with brands they learned about through their work in New York fashion industry, like Steven Alan, UNIS and Fair Ends. But Armitage & McMillan will also include outdoor gear from brands like Saturdays Surf NYC, Mt. Rainier and Epperson Mountaineering.
"Denver fashion has a personality of its own. It's not the Midwest and it's not the West Coast," said Armitage. The Denver man is looking for clothes to suit his lifestyle.
The childhood friends from Oklahoma lived and worked in Denver before relocating to New York in 2007 to work in fashion. As they watched interest grow in small menswear labels, the more they thought there could be a market for them in Denver.
Armitage hopes to reach fashion-conscious men who want to support the brands they read about on menswear blogs, or young professionals who work in places where suit and tie aren't required.
"They don't want to go to mall stores that have a menswear section," he said. "These guys want to go into a menswear shop that feels like a menswear shop and talk to guys about clothing and the history of brands."