Rees Escobar leans casually over a minimal white counter at Lower East Coast, the store he founded late last year with his friend Steven Sanz.
“Growing up in the mid-to-late ’90s, the internet wasn’t a big thing yet. So whenever we wanted to meet like-minded people, we hung out at the same central locations,” Escobar said.
He mentions places like Flavor Station in downtown Miami and Ghetto Thang in Perrine as his former go-to spots to meet friends, thumb through magazines and buy indie-brand clothing. “Those shops were super-important to me growing up.”
But now, he says, “everything is on the phone or the internet. That person-to-person experience is sort of lost.”
Lower East Coast takes things back to basics
Escobar and Sanz are confident that they’ve re-launched a ground-zero for youth culture in Miami. Frequented by 20- and 30-somethings interested in exploring fashion, sports and design through an urban lens, Lower East Coast — which moved this year from its original location in Allapattah to a new space in the Miami Design District — carries an array of collectible magazines, contemporary brands, and a selection of hats, stickers and memorabilia that you’re unlikely to find anywhere else in South Florida.
“We wanted to create a hub for local youth, so they could explore things they probably haven’t seen anywhere else,” Sanz said.
The two met several years ago as collaborators in the music industry. Sanz, a longtime producer, was previously managed by Escobar, whose current roster includes the rising hip-hop star Denzel Curry.
A mix of old and new
That might include some hard-to-find domestic and international magazines, the majority of which are either no longer in publication or simply rare to find in a brick-and-mortar shop. Shelves include titles like Kinfolk, an art, design and culture mag whose editorial board includes the inimitable art curator Hans Ulrich Obrist; Victory, a sports magazine that emphasizes the beauty of sports through large-format photography; and Terremoto, a Mexico-based magazine covering the region’s art and culture.
“We love anything design-friendly that you can pick up and see the past in,” Escobar said.
The shop’s apparel selection includes Stray Rats, a made-in-Miami brand you can only find locally at Lower East Coast. Tees by Onyx Collective and Bedlum also line the shop. Escobar and Sanz have plans to expand into workwear and add more upscale streetwear brands, as well as design-oriented workshops and community discussions. They’re also growing LEC’s footprint, opening a second location in the Miami Design District this month.
Everything in the shop is sourced by Escobar and Sanz, who work with suppliers in Miami and all over the world. “Instead of having to shop online, we want you to get your hands on it,” Sanz said. Added Escobar: “We want kids to know that if they’re making T-shirts or getting into design, they don’t have to leave Miami to do it.”
Lower East Coast, 84 Northeast 39th Street, Miami; instagram.com/lowereastcoast.