Atlanta’s menswear scene is on the rise, and Garrett Hilgendorf is making his mark on the city with quality small batch clothes and goods at his flagship store, Elk Head Clothing.
There’s something special about Garrett and his store. He has quite the eye for aesthetics, and his casual demeanor makes you feel like you’re hanging out with a friend.
It’s late on Sunday afternoon and Ponce City Market is packed. I walk up the industrial spiral stairs and through the glass entryway of Elk Head on the second floor. I spy Garrett over the leaves of a fiddle leaf fig tree and am greeted with a hug. I’m constantly impressed with how great his memory is—he asks how my mom is doing (Teri thinks Garrett is “just so charming”).
As I snap some photos around the space, I can’t help but admire how the deep navy walls and nearly 100-year-old windows create the perfect stage to display Garrett’s clothes. Neatly stacked coffee table books and brass knick-knacks flank tables with Italian leather belts and Elk Head’s signature ATL hats. I wonder to myself if Garrett would consider decorating my house. Probably not. But maybe?
With such a remarkable store, it was surprising to learn that Garrett has no formal training in fashion. He graduated with an exercise science degree and transitioned to bartending while he worked on developing his true passion—menswear. “I’ve been interested in men’s fashion for as long as I can remember” he says. “While everyone else was playing around on Facebook in high school, I was poring over books and magazines, learning and studying menswear.”
In 2013, Garrett started on his quest to create his own line of clothes. “I knew what great menswear should look like, so I set out to design things that I would like to wear, and hopefully what other guys would like to wear, too.”
He spent the next couple of years figuring out how to make his fashion brand come to fruition. “I had to do everything myself. I was filing tax information on Legal Zoom and working with manufacturers. I had to figure all this out on my own.” In an effort to gain insight into the menswear industry, Garrett spent time with other brands around town. “I used to go into Sid Mashburn and hang out with those guys, ask questions. Just try and soak up every bit of information I could.”
So, it came as no surprise that in 2016, Garrett opened his first store at Ponce City Market. “I was one of the first shops up here on the second floor” he excitedly added.
After a successful first year and outstanding holiday season, he opened a second location at Lenox Square Mall. And the expansion doesn’t end there. “I want to be a national brand” he says. Where next? St. Louis and Denver are on the shortlist for new shop locations.
It seems like the sky is the limit for Garrett and his shop. He’s got a lot of passion for his craft and really believes in his brand. So much so, that he only wears clothes that he designs for the store. Oh, and Elk Head isn’t reserved for just dudes. I’ve snagged a couple of ATL hats and sweatshirts to complete my athleisure beltline-strolling look. You probably should too.