When you of think Madison, fashion is not usually something that comes directly to mind. Rob Bowhan, the owner of August, hopes to change that.
Named after the month Bowhan’s son was born, the shop carries rare streetwear and sneaker brands that aren’t available anywhere in Madison and are hard to obtain online.
“I saw a void in the retail retail market here in Madison and I wanted to fill it with a concept like this,” Bowhan said.
That concept has materialized into his store, August, which recently opened on the 400 block of State Street. Working in the fashion industry for over ten years with experience in retail and wholesale, the Madison native started to conceptualize August in 2016.
The layout and look of the store are unlike anything else in Madison. Even the outside of the store sticks out like a sore thumb on State Street. The furniture and clothing displays are clean cut and minimalistic. The second you walk in, you almost forget where you are. There are more parallels between August and Los Angeles boutiques than August and Ragstock.
The inspiration for the store comes from many different retailers and designers.
“Because I’ve been in the industry for so long, I know what works for me and what I wanted my store to be,” Bowhan said.
This is not by accident. Bowhan spent months meticulously planning the store’s look before its opening. He and his colleagues designed the entire store — with everything customized. Even concrete cubes that are placed under clothing racks were part of the plan. Bowhan took the average length of a pant and planned the height of the cubes to fit perfectly under.
In addition to being the vision behind the store, Bowhan also curates its merchandise. He carries his own brand in addition to other rare street style brands. He designs his own clothes with two designers in New York and one in Portland, Oregon. The four of them come up with concepts together, then Bowhan makes them for August.
August is currently carrying the product of a collaboration between the designers and a DJ conglomerate in New York called No Limits. Bowhan and the DJ Top Shelf Tyson are friends so the collab was a no-brainer.
As a feature, August gift cards are made by Bowhan’s friend in Los Angeles.
“We are all young entrepreneurs and it is important that we support each other in our creative endeavors,” Bowhan said.
Bowhan hopes to continue to collaborate with friends but would love to work with brands he sells in the future. He believes it’s important to build up his own brand before reaching out to bigger names like Pleasure, which is one he carries.
Part of that is building August’s brand within Madison. Bowhan hosts events in August to showcase the store as an active part of the community. The business has entertained functions centered around hip-hop to events supporting the Madison fashion community such as the Threads fashion show.
While being an active part of the Madison community, August has been working to find their place in the area. Bowhan says the goal is not to conform.
“People want something new. People come in all the time and tell us that Madison has been needing something like this,” Bowhan said.
Bowhan hopes that his store will set an example for other retailers in Madison to be able to do more interesting things instead of trying to fit in.
August is located at 414 State Street and has plenty to tease on Instagram.