Brixton approached its business about as backward as a snapback hat, operating solely in e-commerce and wholesale for the 17 years since it started in an Oceanside garage. But at long last, the North County hatmaker opened its own brick and mortar in Encinitas in December.
It’s all a part of CEO Raphael Peck’s crusade to breathe new life into the brand. Peck (pictured above) joined the company two years ago, after stints at Oakley and Under Armour. Of course, he was already a Brixton customer first.
“I always liked the fact that the brand felt like Southern California, but it didn’t feel like a surf brand or a skate brand,” he says. “It felt like an Americana lifestyle brand. I love that differentiation, that toughness, that durability it had. There was a tremendous opportunity to get back to our roots, and I thought, ‘What does the physical manifestation of our brand look and feel like?’”
If the Encinitas store is any indication, that would be a modern millinery, or hat shop. It’s in this brightly lit, 980-square-foot space that headwear isn’t treated as just an accessory.
“We think about starting and ending every outfit with a hat,” Peck says, nodding toward the shop’s “power wall,” which towers over the other apparel—in this case, the accessories. There’s also a service station for hat fittings, product customization, and steam cleaning. Here, they’ll eventually be “cooking headwear right in front of customers,” building and designing hats, testing out textiles, leathers, felts, and wools, and even holding seminars and events to get the community involved.
Becoming a part of that social fabric was an important motivating factor behind Brixton’s homecoming. “We like to think of ourselves as a son of North County,” Peck says. “What Oceanside, Encinitas, and Del Mar have done for Brixton—how they’ve put us on the map—we felt the responsibility to open a store for them and give back in every way we can.”
That’s not just hype: For every face mask purchased online or in-store, Brixton donates one to the Carlsbad or Oceanside police or fire departments. Additionally, it offers a 15 percent discount on all merchandise when customers show a receipt from neighboring restaurants on Highway 101. The company has also partnered to provide merch to Rollin’ from the Heart, a nonprofit that teaches disadvantaged kids how to skateboard.
Brixton is planning to open its second US location and true flagship this summer in their hometown—Oceanside. The shop will be nearly double the size of the Encinitas location and part of the Tremont Collective, a trio of former auto repair garages along Tremont Street being restored by local developer Fabric Investments.
Most importantly, Peck says: “We want to go where it makes sense. And I don’t want to be too far from home.” After all, home is where you hang your hat.