Deep Ellum has another new addition, this one a shop called Epocha that offers menswear with a bit of an edge. But owner Brandon Ayala hopes his new venture will be more than just a store. He wants to give the city’s creatives a place to hang.
Ayala has been DJ’ing for 17 years — you can find him at Crown and Harp every third Saturday — a passion that has taken him to cities across the country. He decided to create something in Dallas more akin to the shops he encountered on his travels.
“Because of my passion for music, I’ve been able to go to other cities where you see stores like this, for people who want to look unique,” he says. “Usually those are the creatives that live in the city.”
Ayala says his clients are men who want a more individual look but also demand quality. “[Epocha] is for someone who pays attention to the quality of the material and who wonders if this piece is going to last them 10 years from now.”
The store carries shoes from Asics, Saucony, Pony and Thorocraft; tees, tanks, jogger pants and hoodies from ICNY, Publish and Epocha’s own line; and funky hats from Bailey and Prep St.
“I’ve always been into fashion, so I know the brands that I like, and unfortunately through the 14 years I’ve lived in Dallas, there haven’t been many places where I want to buy things,” he says. “I have to wait until I go to LA or New York to shop.”
In addition to hard-to-find brands, Ayala is focused on quality, a lesson he learned during his first job selling ladies shoes at Dillard’s. At Epocha, shoes range in price from just under $50 to more than $200.
On the higher end, “you’re looking at shoes that are handmade in Portugal, leather inside, suede heal,” he says. “It’s like you are wearing a Louis Vuitton purse on your foot.”
The interior is a mix of reclaimed and repurposed materials — including a custom fixture made from houses demolished in South Dallas and floors from an old high school gym, which were already in the space — befitting the neighborhood.
“You’re in here, and you know that you’re in Dallas, that you’re in Deep Ellum,” he says.
But more important, Ayala wants Epocha to uphold Deep Ellum’s cultural legacy and its current role as creative hub. “At Epocha we aren’t just trying to create a retail store; we want it to be like a cultural hub when it comes to all creative types.
“That’s why that front room is a pop-up shop/gallery. We are going to host local designers, art shows, photography shows, record release parties, etc. We are talking to a few local chefs as well. We are going to try and host anything creative, which will give everyone the ability to network and connect.”
For now Ayala has no plans to expand. For him, Deep Ellum is where it’s at. Epocha is open Wednesday-Friday, 10 am-8 pm; Saturday, noon-8 pm; and Sunday, noon-6 pm.