Started by the same group of people behind The Source Snowboards and Skateboards' past 23 years of success, LESS 17 opened its doors on July 2014 in Calgary. Most of all, this store represents the place where skate culture merges with menswear culture to produce not only a unique selection of brands, but a unique vibe unlike anywhere else in Calgary. However, not unlike similarly-minded stores such as Supreme and Undefeated, LESS 17 goes further than just skate-inspired casualwear. Wide a variety of brands spanning from more classic Filson and Penfield, to more contemporary Adidas and Palace, LESS 17 provides menswear for numerous local demographics.
Store manager and skateboard enthusiast Zev Klymochko came up working with local skate groups such as The Source and New Line Skateparks, and has grown into a prominent figure in the local skateboard community as the co-chair of the Calgary Association of Skateboard Enthusiasts. Zev describes the branching out from a skateboard and snowboard shop into a menswear shop as a culmination of the style journey for many young skaters such as himself:
"All of the original staff at LESS 17 grew up shopping at, and later working at or with The Source in some way. As we grew a little older our styles matured and we sought out more exclusive brands. We were pretty sure there was a large contingent of The Source customers who felt the same way. Maybe they grew up wearing DC Shoes and riding Element Skateboards but now they’re looking for Vans Syndicate shoes and Palace."
As such, LESS 17 was started with the aim to be the foremost menswear and streetwear provider to the local action sports clientèle as their tastes evolve. However, in addition to that, the store also carries a wide variety of Calgary-exclusive brands tailored to a wide variety of streetwear and casualwear sensibilities. In Zev's words, "It’s great that we can have older clientele that have been buying Filson for 30 years shopping alongside younger guys that are picking up a pair of Adidas Ultra Boosts."
In addition to the wide selection of menswear, LESS 17 also hits a certain cultural cord in Calgary with their downstairs Secret Eight Project Space. Contained as a unique art gallery condition within the shop, the Secret Eight project Space is described as "an experimental exhibition, performance, event and education platform that features both emerging and established artistic practices." Mediums presented in the space have included video, sculpture, photography, paint, and more, all of which are presented in ways which strive to support emerging practices and ideas.
Ultimately, Zev asserts that their transition from skate and snow culture to a menswear shop has been much more seamless than you might expect. With such a strong and loyal preexisting customer base on the local scene from The Source, and a shop culture unique to most of Canada, LESS 17 found a strong niche within YYC that isn't going anywhere anytime soon. Furthermore, as Zev states, they have built a strong synergy with the rest of the local shops, where nobody shies away from recommending customers elsewhere for specific things. Certainly, for any lover of carefully curated menswear, skate-inspired streetwear, thought-provoking art, and/or local friendly vibes, LESS 17 is a must-visit. Check out some more store photos below, and be sure to visit Zev and the crew in person and online at less17.com
Zev's full interview is coming soon to brandedyyc.com