Ed’s Threads

Posted on September 8, 2011 – 2:52 PM | by Admin
  • Share

By Guphy Gustafson Photos by Scott Duncan

To walk into Ed’s Threads is to enter a tribute to bygone days.  Filled with an inventory of quality vintage men’s clothes, shoes, and accessories, the storefront also houses a few records, books and snappy home furnishings. But the most intriguing part of the store is its proprietor, Ed Castro.

Lucky patrons can grab a chair in the sitting room and listen to his stories. Castro is a longtime Midtowner – he has had a business at 1125 21st Street for 31 years. The space only became a clothing store around the spring of 1998. When Frank Sinatra died, Castro metamorphosed the record store into a vintage men’s clothing shop, with a heavy emphasis on the ‘50s and early ‘60s.

“About the period when Sinatra died I figured it’s all over for me,” says Castro. “I don’t like what’s going on in music today, I am from the old school, I like the old bands, I like the old singers, I like old music. I like a lot of music, classical, blues, what have you, but I don’t like today’s music. So, when Sinatra died that was kind of my excuse to get out of the record business, so I sold my inventory and that got me free and clear and I went into my second love which is men’s clothing.”

The store is decked out with old movie posters, glossy publicity photos and paintings. There is plenty to look at: Roseville pottery, cuff links, and piles of folded cardigans arranged by color. There is always good music playing, of which Castro has an encyclopedic knowledge. An inquiry about Johnnie Ray resulted in him singing a few bars of “Cry.” He knows a lot about the things that are important to him: clothes, music, film and history of a certain period.

Castro left San Francisco for Sacramento after a divorce. He was broke, and Sac’s cheap rents made it a good place to start over. While loving it here, he misses the city to this day; he laments that it’s too hot in the Sacramento summer to wear a full suit every day. He still looks good, even dressed more casually.

He gets his inventory here and there, selectively buying duds in good condition. Unlike many vintage store proprietors, Castro is not a crazy collector himself. Despite his deep love for Sinatra, he doesn’t shop eBay for Old Blue Eye’s suits or other specialty clothing – but if it comes though the door at a good price, he will buy it. A few pieces by Sy Devore (THE tailor of ‘50s Hollywood – he dressed the Rat Pack) have come and gone. Armani also comes and goes, albeit rarely.  The television show Mad Men has lured a lot of men hoping for Don Draper’s style into the shop.  Castro can make it happen; Draper’s look – the gentlemen who has a highball after work and knows how to lead a lady around the dance floor – is his specialty.

The store has many sections, including a Hawaiian section, a Mr. California “Classic Leisurewear for the Modern Man” section and a disco section,..wait, a disco section? Yes, he carries a few leisure suits with bellbottoms, which he mostly rents for Halloween or ‘70s parties. (There is a yellow polyester “leisure” suit currently on the rack, if you’re looking.) Castro says bellbottoms sell way better in San Francisco than here. They can keep ‘em!

To enjoy the store is to enjoy Ed Castro – it looks like the inside of his head come to life.

Castro’s loyal customers bring things to share, like Sinatra’s autograph, a program from his funeral, or the latest season of Mad Men on DVD.  They bring objects that they feel he should know about, or that may belong in the store.  They bring things he will appreciate and love and take care of and share with his visitors. Things he will tell you about when you stop by.             

Ed’s Threads, 1125 21st Street in Midtown, (916) 446-8138

  1. 1 Trackback(s)

  2. Sep 8, 2011: The Fashion Issue | Midtown Monthly

Post a Comment