Meet The Menswear Maven,Chance Okonski
They often say that “everything is bigger in Texas” but what happens when Texas meets Aspen? Aspen transplant Chance Michael Okonski’s larger than life personality pairs well with his even larger wardrobe, which often can be seen on the streets of downtown Aspen, and on his GQ worthy Instagram feed. Not to be mistaken for another one of those self-proclaimed social media influencers, this Texas native turned entrepreneur is much more than meets the eye. Beyond his bold outfit choices and that meticulously kept beard, Chance is the man who wears many hats (both figuratively and literally of course) and has continued to do so since starting his retail company turned e-commerce brand, KIE Men’s Shoppe, back in 2014. Outside of his passion for business and marketing, Chance is also a fashion-based writer and a published menswear blogger, making him the perfect candidate to deliver our first-ever Holiday Gift Guide for men.
With that being said, we’ll literally “Leave it to Chance” and let the expert take it from here.
Chance Okonski’s Aspen Holiday Gift Guide
Finding the perfect gift for him this holiday season can be quite the challenge as the Christmas season quickly approaches. Whether he’s the man who has everything or the teenager who just wants everything, I’ve teamed up with the fine folks over at Aspen Real Life to bring you my must-have gift items for MEN this holiday season. Now that the hard work has been done (aka shopping) let’s get to my list featuring some of Aspen’s favorite local retailers.
Now before you go crossing Aspen’s favorite cosmetic store off your list as just a place for the ladies who love their lipstick…you better think again. Cos Bar may have started out in 1976 catering exclusively to the women, but the matriarch of makeup and Cos Bar founder, Lily Garfield, had a much greater vision for the future of her store. Today, Cos Bar has over 20 stores across the United States and is one of the industries leading retailers of luxury cosmetics for both women and men. From innovative skincare and grooming products to some of the world’s best colognes and fragrances, Cos Bar has what he wants this holiday season. To help steer you in the right direction, I’ve picked out my TOP 8 favorite products from the cosmetic connoisseurs that no man should live without this Christmas.
- Dr. Barbara Sturm – Hyaluronic Serum ($300)
- La Prairie – Eye & Lip Perfection a Porter ($195)
- Dr. Lancer – The Method: Polish Exfoliant ($75)
- Augustinus Bader – The Rich Cream ($265)
- Proraso – Shave Foam Refresh ($9)
- La Prairie – Skin Caviar Eye Lift ($480)
- Oribe – Rough Luxury Soft Molding Paste ($39)
- Maison Francis – Baccarat Rouge 540 ($425)
2. Kemo Sabe
Whether you’re visiting for a few days, or have lived here a few too many years, I think it’s safe to say that owning your own cowboy hat is a staple when you’re walking the streets of Aspen, Colorado, and no one does cowboy better than the folks over at Kemo Sabe.
From wide brim pork pies to custom branded Stetsons, this one-of-a-kind saloon inspired retailer has something for everybody. The moment you pass by the Moncler store you will be drawn in by the sound of solid country gold playing loudly from their outdoor speakers, serenading you with decade-old hits by legendary artists like Tim McGraw, and my personal favorite, Keith Whitley. Before you know it, you’ve found yourself wandering inside their almost always open doors and quickly submersed into the world that is Kemo Sabe.
After entering into what actually feels like the Wild Wild West, you will quickly come to realize why Kemo Sabe is the go-to destination for some of today’s biggest celebrities like Mariah Carey, Jeff Bezos, Kyle Richards and even P. Diddy himself. These guys literally have everything y’all! However, the bread and butter of this western wear retailer lie in their vast selection of customizable hats and cowboy boots. A personal favorite of mine actually comes from the store’s very own brand, Kemo Sabe Grit. To be honest, I rarely leave my house these days without one of these well-made hats strategically placed on my head. And it’s not just because I’m having a bad hair day (because that’s literally every day) it’s simply because they are just that damn good! Trust me, get him one for Christmas and you will be singing Kemo Sabe’s praises while he listens to Toby Keith’s “Should’ve Been A Cowboy” on repeat until 2020.
Still not sold on the whole western wear thing? No worries. Kemo also carries an array of handcrafted men’s jewelry, apparel, and even antique pocket knives! Oh, and did I mention they have a bar? It might cost you a pretty penny to get in, but if you find yourself up there mingling with Kemo’s VIP customers, make sure and ask for Matt Malone. He knows a thing or two about the Kemo Sabe brand and makes one hell of an Old Fashioned.
I had the privilege of lending my style expertise to this New York based brand the past year while living here in Aspen and I was quickly reminded again of how much I love their classic approach to menswear. One of the few spots in town that has a section dedicated just for men, rag&bone offers something that other retailers in town don’t, and that’s options for us guys. However, their core product, and what the brand prides itself on, is the ability to produce the industry’s best pair of jeans, and boy do they do it well. If you’re looking for a gift this holiday season that he will actually wear, stop in and check out their denim selection for men. Available in multiple fits and washes, the Fit 1 is my go-to style for every occasion and fits me like a glove! Need help finding the perfect style to get him for Christmas? Stop by and ask for Julia or Jordan, they can help you pick out the one gift that will never go out of style, and that’s a good pair of jeans.
4. Res Ipsa
One of Aspen’s freshest faces on the retail scene, Res Ipsa is your premium destination for handmade travel goods and accessories. Born out of a desire to break with convention. Lawyers by trade, Res Ipsa founders, Josh and Odini know a thing or two about the often dull uniformity of men’s professional and dress wear. With stores in both Nantucket and Aspen, plus the addition of a newly announced Dallas pop up in the Knox District, these boys know a thing or two when it comes to handcrafted menswear.
Now that you know the scoop on Aspen’s latest new kids on the block, go say hi to Hart and Ward and check out their unique selection of men’s products. Oh and just in case anyone is curious as to what’s on my Christmas list this year, let just say I would kill for one of their limited edition Kilim Weekender Bags and preferably in style #12. Just saying…
Last but certainly not least, and quite possibly one of Aspen’s best-kept secrets, Dallas born retailer Forty Five Ten.
Nestled away on the corner of East Hyman and Hunter, Forty Five Ten is truly the mecca for all things fashion, combining some of today’s leading designer brands like Comme De Garçons, Maison Margiela, and Balenciaga, alongside emerging designers like jewelry makers James Banks and Kimberly McDonald. Call me biased, but I grew up with this iconic retailer in my backyard of Dallas, Texas, and whether or not I was shopping there, or simply idolizing the pure genius that the late Forty Five Ten founder Shelly Musselman had created, I was sold.
High fashion ready-to-wear not his thing? I understand. Save their curated designer racks for yourself and go check out their selection of affordable and intoxicating man candles. Available in a variety of masculine scents, the Cuban Tobacco by Lumira is my go-to scent and possibly the best $64 you will ever spend. Take it to the next level and pair it with one of their Tetra lighters, and his new man cave will be smelling like it just stepped off the pages of the latest issue of Architectural Digest.