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Paloma Hayes Valley is one of the coolest under-the-radar stores in San Francisco -- and one of the hardest to categorize, thanks to its owner, Laureano "Larry" Faedi, a leather-worker and world-traveling treasure-hunter who treats the place as a combination studio-and-retail-spot.
Paloma's rough model, Larry says, is "shit we make and shit we like. And I hate to pigeonhole into a single style when there's so much cool stuff out there." The closest thing to a unifying aesthetic at Paloma, he says, is, "'You’re gonna buy one and it’s gonna last you a long time.'"
Drop in on any given day and you'll find Larry behind the counter, hand-making goods like these custom bags:
As far as the things he *doesn't* make himself, Larry -- born in Buenos Aires but raised in S.F. -- sources items during travel (he's taken buying trips to Japan, Hong Kong, Colombia, Mexico City...) and through extensive online digging. "A lot of the things we carry are Japanese -- they have a culture of retaining stuff and letting it age. That's not really a thing in the U.S. So the garments I carry might have a very Japanese silhouette, but what attracts me even more is the idea that it's something that's gonna be there after you're gone."
Take, for instance, these period-accurate reproduction '30s and '40s chore coats by Lee Archives, a.k.a. Lee Japan, which Larry believes he's the only U.S. retailer to carry -- and which he manages to stock only in extremely small quantities.
Or these deadstock '60s-era Czech army liners, which Larry dyed different colors: "I like finding old stuff and figuring out how to do something slightly different with it. People are really into army liners, but mostly those really common nylon ones. I found these and took them to a local mom-and-pop dye-house whose name I won’t divulge. I did the same thing a little while back with deadstock '40s Swedish snow parkas, too."
Here's a custom-made indigo kendo coat Larry made, adding pockets, in an edition of two:
Paloma carries interesting stuff beyond accessories and apparel, like prototype Pendleton-blanket guitar straps, plates and serving sets, vintage Rolex spoons (?), and one of our personal favorites, the Douk-Douk knife, pictured below, whose wild history Larry outlines: "Manufactured by MC Cognet cutlery in France since 1929...During the 1954-1962 FLN-led revolt in Algeria, the Douk-Douk was used as a weapon of assassination and terror."
"The shop's fun because it allows me the thrill of the hunt, then other people can enjoy what I find," Larry says. But he still nurses personal obsessions: "Last year I was at this art gallery in Tokyo and they had a game called Zombie Master by this guy Alan Miura, whose art form is games. It's all wood, looks like it might be hand carved. All the rules are in Japanese so I had to ask someone to translate them for me."
Larry calls Paloma "the kind of weird store that used be much more common in San Francisco, before the rents got so crazy. I treat it like an extension of my living room -- come in on a weekend and you'll find me here with friends, drinking beer or wine."
Paloma's website is here, and you can see what the shop carries on Instagram.
"We're still working on a web-store," Larry says, "but we ship pretty much everything we carry." Hit him up!