Eddy Chai and Paul Birardi Are Over 29-Inch Man Waists

Retail partners Eddy Chai and Paul Birardi know how to beat a plummeting economy. Their game plan? Never stop changing. The duo owns Odin, Pas de Deux, and Den, a perennial pop-up that features rotating designers. Next up on Den’s roster is Richard Chai menswear, which will launch at Den next weekend. (Eddy and Richard are brothers, though, Eddy says, “we have very little resemblance to one another.”) We caught up with the master merchants to talk about penny-pinchers, their inevitable first clothing line, twiggy men, and more.

What can shoppers expect when Den features Richard Chai menswear?
Eddy Chai: A wide assortment of his collection, as well as some pieces specially cut for the installation, like arc-seam, short-sleeve shirts, Bermuda shorts, and exclusive colorways and fabrications. There will also be show pieces from his Paris presentation, like an embroidered cargo jacket.

The economy seems to be taking down a lot of independent stores. How are you handling the downturn?
Paul Birardi: We are faring pretty well. We feel we carry desirable designers that customers still want, and we are happy with how our business is performing.

Inside Odin.Photo: Melissa Hom

How do you see your business growing?

EC: There are different directions that Odin could grow, the obvious ones being opening more stores as well as developing an Odin collection. But there are other interests we have. Some of those projects, I think, will be unexpected and will be coming out later this year.

Do you have any tips for people pinching their pennies?
EC: Be mindful of your budget and spending, but don’t live in fear … otherwise, marry rich.

What’s the first designer thing you ever bought?
EC: Does Benetton count? If not, then a Katharine Hamnett shirt.
PB: A Paul Smith blazer, during the early eighties when I was in London on a family trip.

What trends do you like for spring?
EC: I’m glad that there are some roomier silhouettes being introduced.

Are there any trends you wish would go away?
EC: Bad tattoos.
PB: Shaggy haircuts that cover your eyes.

Are there any trends you wish would come back?
EC: Clothes that fit properly and are age-appropriate.
PB: When a 29-inch waist for guys is not the norm.

Who are your favorite designers?
EC: Comme des Garçons, Martin Margiela, Junya Watanabe, and of course, Richard Chai.
PB: Martin Margiela, Duckie Brown, and Levi’s.

Who is one designer that everyone should know by now but doesn’t?
EC & PB: Duckie Brown.

What’s the one thing you can’t live without?
EC: New York City.
PB: Candy.

What’s something that everyone should have in their closet?
EC: Secrets and mothballs.
PB: A proper-fitting blazer.

Eddy Chai and Paul Birardi Are Over 29-Inch Man Waists