Crimson Serpents Outpost Makes The Grove a Regional Destination for Hard-to-Find Fashion
A refuge from suburban malls and trendy boutiques, Crimson Serpents Outpost in The Grove has become a place where St. Louisans can discover ethically produced designer apparel that celebrates old-school craftsmanship but is always in style.
Since launching Crimson Serpents Outpost in September 2018, Serge Patel has stocked his shop with brands, that in most cases, are unavailable anywhere else in the metropolitan area. Step through the doors, and you’ll be greeted by sought-after selvedge Japanese denim from labels like Naked & Famous and Japan Blue, wearable linen shirts and shorts from Brooklyn’s Alex Crane and vintage-style sneakers from Colchester Rubber Co.
For Patel, who opened the store with business partner Matt Hebner, the relationships he’s built over the past 20 years as a clothing buyer has pushed Crimson Serpents to the front of a crowded market by introducing the region to acclaimed designers and emerging, more obscure lines.
“When we first opened, it was just people from the neighborhood and the city coming in,” Patel says. “But now we’re getting people driving in from Wentzville, Springfield, really all over. We’re becoming a destination in this part of the world because of the brands we have, especially the Japanese brands we carry. They’re not easily found, even in stores on the West and East coasts.”
While there are plenty of international designers to choose from, Patel places a special emphasis on brands made here in the U.S., especially local brands. On a recent June afternoon—the day after the Blues captured the Stanley Cup—he’s busy shipping t-shirts featuring Ozzy Osbourne’s iconic blue note-adorned mug shot from St. Louis native Josh Scholl’s Skim Milk line to lucky recipients around the country.
“We carry so many great American brands. One is Railcar denim out of Los Angeles, and another is Left Field from New York. They both make really good workwear-inspired clothing that’s going to last a long time, and they make it all in-house. It’s brands like these that have been missing in the local market.”
Crafting the leather accessories that pull a look together
At the heart of Crimson Serpents is Patel’s handcrafted leather accessories, which first thrust him into the social media spotlight three years ago. When he’s not assisting customers, he can be found in the workshop at the back of his store, constructing custom belts and wallets for clients as well as dog collars and accessories for their four-legged friends.
Like the brands he curates for the store, Patel focuses on finding partners for Crimson Serpents Leather Goods whose values align with his own. “All the leather I use is sustainably sourced. The majority of it comes from Hermann Oak Leather in St. Louis. They’re a fourth-generation tannery that’s be around since the 1880s, and they make vegetable-tanned leather, which I think is the best in the world. I do have some other brands I use from the U.S. and England, but I’m always making sure everything is ethically made.”
Just as important to Patel is giving back to the St. Louis community. Crimson Serpents regularly participates in charity events throughout the year, hosts winter coat drives and has a food donation box on site to collect items for those in need in the region.
As Patel grows his leather line, he’s also growing the store’s reach with new brands for the fall season and expanded collections to dress the fashionable of St. Louis all year long. In addition, the store is striving to add hem and alteration services for clients and, most exciting for Patel, a store brand that combines his eye for detail with his passion for denim.
“We’re looking at producing our own denim line. Right now we’re in the works with a couple of companies to source denim from Japan. That’s our future plan—having our own Crimson Serpents brand. That’s really what I’m into. I love jeans and I love leather, all the stuff that’s made the old-fashioned way.”
Images courtesy of Crimson Serpents Outpost.