Union Jacks


When Hyde from That ’70s Show mans the wheels of steel, he goes not by DJ Hide or DJ Danny Masterson, his real-life name. He prefers DJ Donkey Pizzle.

This life-enriching nugget we learned at the launch party for the new Ben Sherman store in Soho, an event which featured the DJ skills of the upstanding young Scientologist (clad in a Clap Your Hands Say Yeah tee and what we assume was a Ben Sherman pinstripe blazer); a live performance by The Raveonettes; enough Vespas to remake Alfie one more time; a British cab with a cargo of Sherman gift bags; a “guest list” line which trailed all the way down the block; and Bass beer and vitamin water poured by models in Ben Sherman shirts, one of whom glowered beautifully at us when we took his picture.

We welcome the arrival of an actual Ben Sherman store here in the States, if only to have a less-inane answer to that constant question from guys: Where should I shop? (Our usual answer: Um, I don’t know. Have you tried H&M? Beacon’s Closet? Do you know H&M? Gap? Or—hey, how about that H&M?) Who wants to send their friends off again to another decrepit men’s section of a department store? (Have you ever been to the men’s floor in Bloomingdale’s?)

Now your friends have one more option, at least. The new Ben Sherman Soho Store stocks the best of the current men’s and women’s collection, in a 5300-square-foot Soho space richly outfitted with antique desks, Union Jack couches, dressing rooms with upholstered stools in custom-print fabrics, and black-and-white photos of young Mods. (We were told the theme of the store is “Mods in the Mansion” a fancier incarnation of the label’s humble beginnings in England; Ben Sherman began with a shop in Brighton and a showroom on London’s Carnaby Street during the swinging ’60s.)

Turns out there was once a real Ben Sherman—well, Arthur Benjamin Sugarman, at any rate, who formally changed his last name to Sherman. (According to My Favourite Shirt: A History of Ben Sherman Style, “Sherman—as in the tank—was a good solid American name.”) Amusingly enough, the America-loving Brit even spoke with a “pronounced American accent” for much of his life.

Sherman received his first big break in the ’60s when his menswear—in particular the Sherman button-down, available in a variety of vivid stripes and prints—became a favorite with London’s mod kids, and was sported by bands like the Kinks and the Birds, and later even mod-style emulators like the Buzzcocks, the Jam, and Madness.

And now, of course, DJ Donkey Pizzle.