Biz Beat

Menswear goes high-end in Modesto

Luis Oliveira has a taste for the unique.

It’s evident in his Modesto home store, Designz, where the pieces available include a gold alligator head (it might be a crocodile) and a huge, light-up heart. And it’s evident in his Turlock men’s store, Loja Do Homen (a trucker hat with a rooster on it, anyone?). And it’s apparently working for him, because after seven years in Turlock he has expanded Loja to a spot next to Designz in McHenry Village.

And then there is one piece Oliveira has, uniquely Modestan, in his possession that most definitely is NOT for sale. I will get to that in a bit.

“I’ve always had an eye for fashion,” said Oliveira, who used to go to the Bay Area to get the clothes he likes. “But the traffic got to be ridiculous.”

So he opened Loja Do Homen (the name, he said, means “Men’s Store” in Portuguese) and filled it with the higher-end brands he likes. That was seven years ago — at nearly the height of the Great Recession.

“There was a time there I was pretty stressed out,” Oliveira said. But he found a customer base from his Main Street location and hopes for the same success with the store in Modesto.

The location — next to the Salon Salon boutique — is perfect, he said. Women come in from next door and might pick up something for their husbands.

“They might go home and say, ‘I got this for me, but look, I got something for you, too’,” said Juli Freitas, Oliveira’s assistant.

Though the clothes and furniture carried at the shops cost more, it’s built for the long haul, Freitas and Oliveira said.

“You might save up for one of our leather pieces, but you’ll have it forever,” Freitas said.

And speaking of having things forever, back to that piece Oliveira owns. It’s a cutout of a man in a hat, holding his hand out flat. Anyone who has been around Modesto for a period of time will recognize him from the door of El Faro, the Mexican restaurant that occupied a spot on McHenry Avenue for decades.

Oliveira closed El Faro seven years ago — he had purchased it from the previous owner. It was when he closed El Faro that he decided to open the Turlock store. The El Faro man occupies a spot on a wall in Oliveira’s home.

People have asked to purchase it, he said. But no luck. “That’s going with me wherever I go.”

Dezignz and Loja Do Homen: 209-846-0889, 1700 McHenry Ave., Modesto or 209-205-2508, 120 W. Main St., Turlock