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Style in Real Life: Jim Snediker of Stock Mfg

The brains behind Chicago-made menswear shares his style

By Megan Collins | Sep 8 2015

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Presented by Hush Puppies

Nestled on a busy, industrial street of the West Loop in Chicago you’ll find Stock Manufacturing Company’s new retail storefront. Co-founder and CEO Jim Snediker and team have nailed the all-important, Come on in, man, you’re welcome here vibe that menswear stores have smartly honed for enticing male shoppers – leather couches, an open bar, and laid-back help.

Stock Mfg (as it’s known) offers affordable staples with a high-end, classic feel, from peacoats to button-ups. Entirely American-made, and almost exclusively produced at their factory in Chicago, the company often collaborates with local designers on limited-run collections and is known for outfitting the staff at Soho House Chicago and Goose Island Beer Company, to name a few.

Raised in a suburb just 15 miles north of downtown, Snediker says of his upbringing, “I grew up in a pretty preppy area, so I think shades of that enter into my personal style.” When asked about the not-so-great style reputation men in the Midwest have, he responds: “Totally earned. Every dude in the Loop on a work day looks like they are personally related to Jos A Bank. Just pleated slacks and baggy, electric blue dress shirts as far as the eye can see.”

Style Girlfriend talked to Snediker about making deals over tacos, his must-have pieces for fall, and how a baby changed his morning routine:

{Jim is wearing Hush Puppies’ Leather Style Brogue in tan. Get it here}

How has working in men’s fashion impacted your style?

Once you start paying more attention, you get a little more refined with what you buy, and a bit savvier on where to look. Plus I don’t have to spend any money on business wear.

How did Stock get started?

Back in 2011, my partner Jason and I were running a small e-commerce company, curating up-and-coming brands that we thought were cool for flash sales. At the same time, Mike and Tim were running a men’s clothing brand, sort of a small boutique-focused men’s clothing brand, and they were making all their clothing at this factory down the street in West Garfield Park. The owner of that factory, Areill – his parents founded that factory over 40 years ago – and he took over for them within the last decade or so, and Mike and Tim started working with Areill on the idea for a vertically integrated men’s fashion brand.

They were working on the concept of what became Stock, and at the same time, in the summer of 2012, Jason and I were pitching the idea for making clothing as a part of the website we were running. We went to look for a factory partner and found Areill and pitched him the concept, he said he had two guys working on a similar concept, so we all sat down.

The first real meeting we had was at Big Star; we had tacos and beer. Jason and I brought sales and marketing and a retail background. Mike does all the design, and Tim does sourcing and development, he also comes up with concepts for products that he and Mike will flush out, and Areill is obviously the manufacturer. They basically had all the technical skills of how to design, develop and manufacture a clothing brand, but they didn’t really have the skill set on how to market and sell the brand as well.

We came in and I said we loved the idea of vertically integrating and cutting out all the inefficiencies, why don’t we take it a step further and create a high-end American made, cool men’s clothing brand and sell it directly to our customers so everything is half the price of the competing type brands. That’s how Stock was born.

How do you approach getting dressed everyday?

I try not to look sloppy. You never know when a customer is going to come in, or when we may have to go to a meeting downtown, so I try to wear clothes that fit and look good. I’m usually in tennis shoes, pants, and a button down.

You’re a new dad; how has that change affected your morning “getting ready” routine?

I don’t really set an alarm anymore…she’s always awake before I need to be! Otherwise, nothing has been affected too much yet, but talk to me when my wife is back at work next week.

On launching a menswear brand in the Midwest:

Midwestern ethic comes into the type of clothing we make, and our design point of view. We try to do contemporary twists on classic standby clothing. A lot of what we design is based on old military styles or work wear styles but we try to make it cool and contemporary and unique.

I think that’s where the Midwestern mentally bleeds into it. We’re not about a lot of frill, we don’t make a lot of loud and outlandish clothing.

Style Profile

My style in three words (or less!)

Pulled Together Casual

My go-to staple piece for the fall

Our Stock Melton Wool Pea Coat (not yet available, but check out their other outerwear here.)

Favorite “splurge” clothing brand/item

Noble Denim

Favorite “steal” clothing brand/item

Gap T-Shirts

A man’s style is important because…

First impressions matter.

Shop SG’s picks for fall
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Tell me:

When does your day start (and do you need an alarm to wake up)?

We’ll be featuring a new style profile every Tuesday this September, brought to you by Hush Puppies. Outfitting everyday happiness, Hush Puppies makes shoes for people who are confident in their personal style, and appreciate timeless classic design balanced with on-trend style. Thanks for supporting the great brands that make Style Girlfriend possible!

Want more Style in Real Life? See how Adam Quirk, Jason Hammonds, Peter Cortez, and David Wolfe live in style.

Images by Sal Bolanos
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