Wilkes Bashford was founded in 1966 by the fashion icon of the same name. Renowned for fabulous, upscale merchandise with personalized customer service and an impeccable eye, Wilkes Bashford has defined Bay Area style for 50 years.
One of the world’s most influential men in fashion, Wilkes Bashford was a constant presence in his stores up until his death in January 2016 at age 82. He was a fixture on Esquire’s “International Best Dressed List” since 1972 and the first retailer to bring many top designers from Italy, including Giorgio Armani, into the United States. Wilkes set the stage for men’s fashion in Northern California and was part of San Francisco’s “local fabric.” Brunello Cucinelli referred to him as a “human being constantly in love with fashion.”
Wilkes opened his original Union Square store in 1966, across from its current location, with a vision to serve a high-end customer he deemed “the bold conservative.” Over the years, Wilkes expanded his store, eventually moving to his famed seven-story townhouse in 1984. He added a women’s department in 1978 and in 2001 opened a Palo Alto store to cater to the Silicon Valley crowd.
Wilkes was very involved in the community, hosting countless charity events and inviting renowned entertainers as he believed fashion and show business are inextricably intertwined. He enjoyed a lot of media attention, palling around San Francisco with long-time best friend, Willie Brown, the former Mayor of San Francisco and a renowned fashionista, who referred to him as “part of the heart of the city.”
Wilkes Bashford stores are known for their highly educated and diverse staff. Wilkes’ sales associates are fiercely loyal, passionate about fashion, and deliver a level of service that goes outside of the stores and into the customers’ homes and personal lives, when needed.
In December 2009, Wilkes Bashford became part of Mitchell Stores, owned by a family he knew for over 25 years through industry events and European buying trips. Like Wilkes, the Mitchells family share a similar aesthetic and strong commitment to community and customer service.
In 1999, Tyler Mitchell, a third generation Mitchell, relocated to San Francisco to help run Wilkes Bashford. A quick “fixture” in the San Francisco community himself, Tyler has been instrumental in transforming the Wilkes Bashford aesthetic and vision for a new generation.
In November 2012, Wilkes Bashford and the Mitchell family unveiled the full renovations of both Wilkes Bashford stores. Wilkes San Francisco was gutted, rewired, and re-imagined as a stunning, metaphorical 7-story townhouse, conceived in the “Mitchells tradition,” to make customers feel as if they are being welcomed into a gracious home. The Mitchells worked closely with renowned San Francisco architect firm Gensler to create what has become an instant San Francisco landmark.
Wilkes Palo Alto has also been stunningly transformed. Both stores feature new world-class designer boutiques, expanded jewelry departments and newly added men’s and women’s designers.
Both Wilkes Bashford stores are the vibrant “hearts” of their communities. Our doors are always open for charity meetings, trunk shows and sold-out fundraising galas.
About Mitchell Stores
Our parents/grandparents, Ed and Norma Mitchell, founded the company in 1958 with three men’s suits, a coffee pot and a dream…
The heart of their extraordinary vision was to “hug” the customer… to enhance and add value to the retail experience by offering unsurpassed service, a uniquely warm environment, to give back to their communities and to build trusting relationships with customers and friends that would last throughout generations.
The first location of the original “Ed Mitchells” was an 800 square-foot former plumbing supply store in Westport, CT. Norma famously brought in her coffee pot each day to make the customers feel at home. For over 50 years, we have strived to carry on that spirit and tradition. Today, we offer lattes and M&M’s, have a dedicated “Kiddie Corner” and much more… we try to do her proud.
Ed and Norma open the original Ed Mitchells store in Westport, CT in an 800 sq. ft. space, offering 5 men’s suit styles.
Ed Mitchells moves to present location, with 17,000 sq. ft. of selling space and 8,000 sq. ft. for other uses.
Expansion of current location, adding 8,300 sq. ft. Name changes to “Mitchells”.
Acquisition of Richards of Greenwich, an 8,000 sq. ft. privately owned men’s clothing store.
Grand Opening of new Richards in a 27,000 sq. ft. building, introducing women’s fashion, jewelry, and accessories.
Acquision of Marshs in Huntington, a men’s clothing store. Renovation and addition of women’s department.
Wilkes Bashford, with stores in San Francisco and Palo Alto, is acquired by Mitchells.
A new entity, “Mitchell Stores” is formed.
Wilkes Union Square 7-story townhouse and Palo Alto stores undergo landmark renovations.
First online sale Saturday October 18th on our e-commerce site, an online extension of our in-store experience.
Mitchells partners with Marios of Seattle, Portland, and Bridgeport, growing to eight store locations and four incredible brands.
Mitchells is still independent, family-owned and operated by a second and third generation of Mitchells, and has grown over the years to 25,000 square-feet. We also have expanded the dream into other communities. In 1995, we acquired Richards of Greenwich, a renowned 8,000 sq. ft. luxury men’s retailer, which we have expanded to include a women’s department, and is now 27,000 sq. ft and the winner of numerous retail space design awards. In 2005, we acquired Marshs of Huntington, a 15,000 sq. ft. men’s store, which we have renovated inside and out, adding women’s ready-to-wear, accessories, and jewelry. In September 2015 we transitioned the name to Mitchells.
In December of 2009, saw the acquisition of the Wilkes Bashford stores of San Francisco and Palo Alto to our portfolio. Wilkes Bashford, founded in 1966 by the retail icon of the same name is the Bay Area’s most renowned luxury retailer.
October 2014 saw the launch of our long-awaited e-commerce site. Committed to delivering a unique retail experience, we took our time in considering how to best offer the convenience of electronic shopping, while also delivering on our standards for extraordinary customer service in an online environment. Our e-commerce site is designed to be a true extension of our store, offering proprietary, never-before-seen customer service features.
In our latest chapter we have partnered with Mario Bisio of Marios in Seattle and Portland, and Marios 3.10 in Bridgeport Village. Mario Bisio, Sr. founded the business in the 1960’s, and under the leadership of his son Mario Bisio, Jr. it has expanded to offer three retail stores and has become a leading fashion destination in the Pacific Northwest. Mario and his family have been great friends of ours for well over 15 years; we couldn’t find a more synergistic business to partner with.
As we have grown over the years to offer eight locations across four brands, we formed a new entity called “Mitchell Stores”. We chose this name because the stores we’ve acquired are also family businesses and we are proud to still be working with members of their founding families. The name also conveys that our business is built on relationships… amongst our associates, designers, and of course, our customers.
We look forward to serving our beloved communities (in person and online) for many generations to come!
Books by Jack Mitchell
A master of customer service reveals his secrets for developing long-lasting business relationships and customer loyalty. "We shower our customers with attention. There's no doubt in my mind that our philosophy can be applied to selling just about anything -- from aircraft engines to beanbags."
"Hug Your People" is more than a book to Jack; it is his personal mission to bring civility and compassion back to the way we all conduct our business and our lives. Jim Nantz of CBS Sports is among the early admirers, calling it "a book rich with wisdom. The Mitchell family secret for success should be read by everyone -- it's like Mike Krzyzewski or Tony Dungy opening up their play books for the public." The new volume will join Mitchell's first book in every successful businessperson's library. Together, they speak volumes!