Outside Business Journal

Retailer Spotlight: Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co. In Brooklyn and Los Angeles

Outdoor meets fashion in one sneakerhead's retail-shop manifestation of his gear dreams

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In the hustle and bustle of Brooklyn and Los Angeles, outdoor lovers take refuge in a naturally lit, well curated gear store, Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co., stocking only the most fashionable and functional products. Keen, Mystery Ranch, Mammut, and Fjällräven blend tastefully together on tables and racks with urban fashion brands Folk, Orslow, Battenwear, Dr. Martens, and more.

Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co. came to life in 2013 when Brooklynite Gene Han figured he couldn’t mix the gearhead lifestyle with the sneakerhead lifestyle in his streetwear and sneaker boutique, Alumni, which opened in 2005 when he took over his family’s footwear store, Rugged Sole. Outdoor gear needed its own store. The similarities between styles in New York and Los Angeles then led him to open a second Hatchet location in 2016.

“How would city dwellers, people in Los Angeles and Brooklyn, interpret what the outdoors means to them?” Han said, recalling the question that started it all. “We’re trying to introduce the outdoors to a city setting…My experience with buying and curation, and assessing products and quality got translated over into [Hatchet]. I knew it could just be a home to a bunch of cool stuff that I would use and wear.”

Gene Han crosses his arms outside Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co. in Brooklyn, New York
Gene Han opened Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co. in a 1,100-square-foot space in Brooklyn in 2013 and opened his second location in Los Angeles in 2016. “Business has never been better,” he said. (Photo: Courtesy)

Fashion and Function, First

Han grew up in Boy Scouts and Eagle Scouts, and while his troop couldn’t afford high-end gear, he always ogled and admired it. Now he has a store full of gear he always wanted, from down sleeping bags and Yeti coolers, to crisp menswear and felt hats, and of course, hatchets from Hults Bruk.

Han has a sharp eye for design, and looks for the “best of the best”—items both well-made and useful. He says that every single item he brings in has to have some kind of functionality for the outdoors, and he doesn’t let price points—ranging from $20 to $800—limit his taste.

Sleeping bags, Topo Designs bags, and shirts on display in Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co. in Brooklyn, New York.
Osprey, Therm-a-Rest, Keen, Rumpl, and Marmot are a few core outdoor brands found at Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co. (Photo: Courtesy)

“Just the word ‘outdoors’ encompasses a lot,” Han said. “It could mean something really hardcore like ultralight trekking over the course of several nights or just getting on a subway here in New York.”

More recently, the fashion world has been flirting with the outdoor industry, and vice versa. Terms like “Patagucci” and “gorpcore” are tossed around. Brands like Canada Goose, adidas, Topo Designs, and Arc’teryx toe the line between both audiences. Italian fashion and sportwear brand Fila launched its Explore adventure-focused collection this summer. The North Face has collaborated with Supreme, Raeburn, and other urban brands. And there are countless other examples.

But Han says it’s more than a trend. “There’s definitely a huge surge of outdoor meets fashion going on in the last two to three years, which is great. Business has never been better,” he said. “But we’re not trying to bring in stuff that is riding that trend or is trying to be super cool or something. It’s stuff that we really like and find useful.”

And as it turns out, outdoorsy people do live in Los Angeles and Brooklyn, and have kept up their appetites for Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co.’s offerings. Han says he’s even fostering more partnerships with local guides who contribute blog posts about nearby hikes.

Light floods into Hatchet Outdoors Supply Co. in Los Angeles, California
Gene Han visits Los Angeles regularly to visit family and for buying shows. He was attracted to the city’s arts district for Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co.’s West Coast 1,700-square-foot location. (Photo: Courtesy)

Friend of Klättermusen and Yeti

Hatchet Outdoor Supply Co. carries more than 150 brands, but Yeti and Klättermusen get somewhat special treatment for different reasons.

Hatchet has a drop-ship program—a means of ordering directly from the manufacturer—with Yeti, a brand that “has been on fire for us,” Han says. Yeti has its own shop on Hatchet’s website, and the program is also available to in-store customers.

Product shot of Klattermusen Gna backpack
The Klättermusen Gna backpack reminds Han of a bug. He likes the brand’s funky and unconventional design. (Photo: Courtesy)

As for Klättermusen, a Swedish mountaineering brand with a cult following in Europe and Japan, Han says he approached the brand about bringing them into the shop a few years back because he was attracted to the “funky” and “totally out-of-the-box” designs and approach. But the brand decided to make Hatchet a wholesale distributor and North American sales agent. That means Han attends Outdoor Retailer to exhibit Klättermusen.

“Their designs are very left field and that’s what we like,” Han said. “A lot of modern outdoor brands will sleek it out or black it out, and then you’ve got the whole retro look with straps and such. But these guys [are] totally weird and funky.”

More collaborative projects with outdoor brands are in Hatchet’s future, as well as more doors—possibly even abroad, Han said. He loves what he does and what Hatchet provides.

“Any time a customer comes back with a story about their use of gear or clothing that they purchased makes me smile,” he said.