The owner of Store talks about the menswear shop and his Monadic label as well as his barbecue sauce company and life in Laguna.
By Sharon Stello
Born and raised in Florida, David Strong arrived in California in summer 2003 without a job or a plan.
“In college, I was hustling a T-shirt ‘company’ with friends and we were selling shirts from the trunks of our cars, literally,” Strong says. “We wanted to be in California, so after school, [we] made our way. I remember that day very well: We pulled up to the beach, the waves were on, it was hot and I started laughing, because I knew I was exactly where I always wanted to be.”
Laguna Beach drew him in right away.
“I landed a job at Laguna Surf & Sport, which ended up being a major catalyst in my life, but I fell smack dab into an incredible community,” he says. “Meeting my beautiful wife here and building our family, Laguna has given me everything. I think this town does an excellent job of keeping you in check, being kind, being respectful, being accountable, being a part of a tribe with common goals. … Other than the people, the scenery ain’t half bad.”
Now, Strong owns a menswear shop, Store, which opened over the summer in the space previously occupied by North Menswear, at 380 Glenneyre St. He’s also owner and designer of Monadic men’s clothing, which is sold at Store along with labels like Free & Easy, Corridor, Freenote Cloth, Saint Rita Parlor and more.
In any spare time, Strong can be found at the beach between Brooks and Thalia streets, enjoying Music in the Park summer concerts and playing on his men’s softball team, Compound Fractures. Although he now lives in San Clemente with his wife, Megan, and children Grace, 2, Bo, 5, and Caleb, 9 (who came up with the store’s name), Strong still spends plenty of time in Laguna. But, mostly, “if I’m not working, I am either surfing, dodging Nerf assaults from my kids or in the backyard barbecuing.”
Laguna Beach Magazine: Can you tell us a little about Store and what you offer?
David Strong: Store is a high-end men’s clothing store stocked with unique and independent designers and labels. We specialize in contemporary clothing with top-tier fabrication, incredible fabrics and an approachable casual luxury. I hope we are a place where the atmosphere is comfortable and loose. We want to be a place to kick back, relax, have fun and, if you want to add incredible clothing to your wardrobe, we have you covered. And if you’d like to raid the fridge, it’s always stocked.
What are some of the current men’s clothing trends that you’re seeing?
DS: Southern OC, in general, is centered around an athletic/comfort and casual athleisure in men’s and women’s [clothing]. [It’s] a category we cover, but Store really focuses on being well-dressed in the classical sense with a modern approach—think style for going out, but casual enough for day to day. Monadic covers a number of bases from top-shelf knitwear to dynamic Japanese fabrics in cut and sew. It is our intention that each and every garment we sell is the type of piece [that,] when worn, the wearer feels their best and is excited each time to pull that piece from the hanger.
What’s your inspiration and approach to the clothing that you design for Monadic?
DS: Monadic is distributed globally, so my design philosophy steps outside of the backyard, but we are still 100% rooted in a laid-back Southern California mentality. Each season has its own structure but the core tenants are to create thoughtful products from the finest raw materials in the world, constructed by the finest sewers in Los Angeles. Inspiration comes from all over and [is] expressed in seasonal color palettes that are connected to a particular theme. Sometimes that theme can be a place, sometimes an abstract concept. [It] really depends on how weird I’m feeling during a certain time of the year.
Do you have any go-to stores in town?
DS: You want anything surf/beach/cool, Laguna Surf & Sport. When shopping for my wife, The Shop, [The] Garage Collective, Twig. When shopping for the kitchen, The Salt Horse. Best barber, The Den. Anything with wheels, the Troy Lee [Designs] store, our incredible neighbors. New to my radar: WillBo and Good Together House.
You also make and sell barbecue sauce?
DS: Strongarm BBQ’s story is the definition of a hobby turned into a business. We offer two all-natural, unique, ultrapremium flavors that go with just about anything. … My favorite recipe, though, is bone-in, skin-on chicken thigh in our original Subitism Sauce. Come to Store and I’ll talk barbecue for hours.