Thursday, April 26, 2018

St. Petersburg's Freshly Squeezed serving stylish streetwear for men

Los Angeles, New York, Tokyo, St. Pete. That's what one of the now sold-out shirts sold by Freshly Squeezed in St. Petersburg said, and the store is helping the city fit it into that exclusive, fashionable club by raising the bar when it comes to streetwear.

Gary Swenson opened the store in August 2012 with his fiancé Victoria Phipps. Originally from Brooksville, he decided to move back to Tampa Bay after a long stay in Los Angeles. Along with his things, he brought the experience of running two different streetwear stores and contacts for some talented friends-turned-designers he met on the West Coast. After noticing that Central Avenue catered mostly to women, Freshly Squeezed found its spot near downtown.

The store features menswear for those with an urban and skater taste (no skill required, though). Hats are available in different styles and fabrics, from the simple wool beanie ($18) to a corduroy printed cap ($36). Prints are actually the style's signature look and are featured in everything from T-shirts ($30) to shoes ($60).

The store carries brands like Huf, which is widely known, and features some other labels that are just developing a reputation, like IBCT (which stands for "I'd Be Chilling Though") from Tampa. Big or small, the designers are extremely picky about where to feature their product to retain that hard-earned street cred; whatever is sold at the shop cannot be found for sale anywhere near it. In fact, even at the store it's a first-come, first-served game. Only two or three of every piece is available, and once it sells out, Swenson never re-orders.

In keeping with the exclusivity of the merchandise, Swenson, who is a professional graphic designer, also makes unique T-shirts monthly, and they're only available at his store. This month's is a play on the city of St. Petersburg's and Freshly Squeezed's logos. Others have included a Grand Prix edition and a local collection that uses photos from photographer Nick Nicks to highlight local landmarks like Haslams Bookstore, World Liquors and the Sandman Motel.