Community Fabric

At Profield Reserve on Cherokee Street, Christopher Loss designs vintage sportswear-inspired clothing — and offers a community hub for all.

Work

Story By Jacqui Germain
Visuals By Michael Thomas

In an era of e-commerce and online shopping, of post-2020 business closures and big-box-store bankruptcies, Profield Reserve’s Christopher Loss still believes in the gospel of the brick-and-mortar. The apparel brand’s Cherokee Street storefront is a testament to that notion, with an interior that — although well stocked — leans more toward showroom than traditional retail space and offers an airy, lightly decorated vintage sportswear aesthetic throughout. The brand offers T-shirts and long-sleeve shirts, hats, sweatshirts, socks, sweatpants, gym shorts, tote bags, and more. Stop by on a sunny Saturday in the summertime and Profield’s South City character truly shines alongside the rest of its Cherokee Street neighbors. 

Loss, who co-founded the brand in the summer of 2020 and serves as its public face, describes Profield Reserve as a classic American sportswear brand, rather than a streetwear brand. Uninterested in especially flashy or temporal fashion trends, Loss says he’s focused on presenting timeless design and proven quality that will ensure Profield’s apparel will be coveted thrift store finds 20 or 30 years from now.

“I’m trying to make something that could live for the next 30 to 50 years in St. Louis, and absolutely be one of those entities in the city that when people think of St. Louis, they think of Profield Reserve,” Loss explains. “It makes the community proud. It makes the city proud. And it’s a draw for tourists and people all over the world that are like, ‘If I ever touch down in St. Louis, Profield Reserve needs to be one of those spaces that I need to visit.’” 

An interior view of the shop, including some of its hats and T-shirts.

It’s an ambitious vision, but the brand’s emphasis on attention to detail, reliable sourcing, and proven quality is already laying a solid groundwork. As Profield’s lead designer, Loss’ artistic background and eye for visual balance lends itself well to the brand’s stripped back approach and capsule-wardrobe ethos to the store’s collective offerings. As a result, the clothes have the added benefit of seamlessly translating into multiple outfits, Loss says, while being durable enough to remain closet staples for years to come. 

“We do all the screen printing in house,” says Loss, who adds that the brand goes local for their embroidery needs, too. “We have a simple four-color press, which is more than enough for the way I design… Most of our hats are a patch that we’ve designed ourselves, and we’re able to apply it by ourselves within a few minutes. So, everything from packing it to hang-tagging everything, to the way it’s displayed in the store, we do in house as well.”

Pictured from left to right, top to bottom: A Profield Reserve hat; a view of merchandise and the register; owner Christopher Loss straightens T-shirts in the shop; three of Profield's signature hats.

With so many careful choices around production and presentation, it’s no wonder Loss takes such pride in Profield’s physical presence. His own background is full of retail experience, including more than a decade working in e-commerce designing and merchandising for professional athletes and up-and-coming artists. But he found the monotony and mishaps of online selling and shipping to be taxing, calling it “the bane of my existence.” In fact, a storefront makes so much sense for Loss that he recalls signing the lease on the space before he even had a name for what would go inside. 

“A lot of people just don’t realize, I really enjoy the brick-and-mortar,” Loss explains, adding that he prefers to “touch, feel, peruse, and see how things look in person” over purchasing an item online based on a digital image. But running a storefront isn’t without its challenges. “I’m gonna be real, every day is new because I’ve never owned a brick-and-mortar with my own work within it. And then keeping it stocked, keeping it interesting, keeping people coming through? It’s been very much a learning experience. I wake up every day going, ‘What do I have to figure out today?’ Because there’s no blueprint for me right now.” 

Profield Reserve owner Christopher Loss.

And yet, just four years in, Profield Reserve has racked up an admirable list of accomplishments and built strong professional and community relationships along the way. Profield’s perfectly arranged store shelves, and even Loss himself, have been featured in a music video celebrating local neighborhood haunts and hangouts from St. Louis native and rising R&B star Jordan Ward

The brand’s most high-profile collaboration to date came in 2022, when Profield Reserve was named one of St. Louis CITY SC’s apparel partners, producing an exclusive collection for the city’s new team. In 2023, Profield designed and released limited-edition clothing items for community partners like WEPOWER, Great Rivers Greenway, and Cherokee Street’s Love Bank basketball court. And, of course, the brand releases a limited edition 314 Day T-shirt in true St. Louis fashion. Relatedly, Loss’ dream collaborations are mostly local icons like the St. Louis Blues and Budweiser. But the biggest win for this life-long Ozzie Smith fan? A partnership with the Cardinals.

Profield Reserve owner Christopher Loss changes plates in the shop's press, located in the shop's backroom.

“Biggest compliment I ever got was someone said that (the) Profield ‘P’ hat carries just as much weight as a Cardinal fitted, and I don’t take that lightly,” Loss says.

Seeing St. Louisans adopt the brand as part of their own homegrown fashion and apparel aesthetic speaks to the kind of community presence Profield has been able to cultivate beyond a traditional customer-brand retail relationship. Loss sees Profield’s unique voice and accessibility as an opportunity to amplify local talent, support the neighborhood, and fill in gaps in the local scene. Together We Ball, an event collaboration with The Luminary, is one recent example of Profield’s penchant for community-driven innovation. The brand has also offered the store as a micro-venue for community partners to, as Loss says, “let the community take some ownership over the space.” The storefront has since been home to weekend food pop-ups, album and EP releases, panel events, community discussions, and more.

Pictured from top to bottom, left to right: The back of Profield's 2024 314 Day T-shirt, displayed in its front window. Profield owner Christoper Loss (pictured third from left in the second photo) chats with friends and guests during a Friday night event at the shop.

“If you’re not doing anything on a Friday night and you have the capacity to let someone come do a live set for an hour, why not?” Loss says. “If you’ve got someone that wants to do a food pop-up and no one is giving them any opportunity to let the community taste their newest creation, then what are we doing as a community, as a small business, as a city in general? Because a lot of the artists that are coming through, all they’re looking for are resources and spaces, and there’s not many of them.”

Opening Profield’s storefront to local artists and community partners has also nurtured the store’s role as a kind of social hub for South City neighbors and the city’s ever-blossoming creative community. Importantly, Loss says the store’s welcoming, open-door atmosphere gives people an easy way to socialize, meet new friends, and network in a post-quarantine world where people are still figuring out how to be in public together again. Over the years, being a constant presence in the store has also allowed Loss to meet Profield’s regulars.

Profield Reserve hosts evening events, typically on Friday nights, at the shop, complete with tunes from a local DJ.

“Some people would keep coming back, and now I’m seeing them meet their lifelong partners,” Loss says. “I’m watching kids that are growing up in the neighborhood. I’m seeing dogs get bigger. It’s just crazy to really see the world and the community change right in front of me because I’m in these four walls all the time. It feels like a sitcom sometimes because I see a lot of repetitive stuff. I see the same people walk by, I see the same people pull up and get a sandwich next door. Some people are always going to be here Friday at five o’clock just to say hi to me. So, it really has turned into a very beautiful thing that I just never expected.”

Folks hanging out at Profield Reserve during a Friday night party can grab delicious eats from Elaine's sandwich shop next door, which serves a special menu dubbed Concessions in partnership with Profield for evening events.

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