Frank Rivera: A Cut Above

He's ambitious. He's in high demand. He wants to dress your boyfriend.

Frank Rivera

Frank Rivera of retailer Boylston Trading Company. (Photo by Jonathan Kozowyk)

Frank “The Butcher” Rivera’s telling me he may never wear jeans again — which is really something to say for a Worcester native who used to walk around in Army clothing and Timberlands.

“I think there’s a set of people who aren’t afraid of doing something different,” he says. “I’m just loving pants and chinos and khakis and cords, because it feels like jeans are work.”

Street style, in other words, is changing, and Rivera, 34, is at the forefront of that transformation in Boston and beyond. As the creative director of Boylston Trading Company, the new Karmaloop-owned online retailer, he’s pushing upscale, hard-to-find menswear brands from around the globe (like Italian footwear line Diemme and Canadian bag and accessories company Want Les Essentiels de la Vie). The site is part store, part multimedia magazine, with editorial features, photo essays, and videos. Rivera, a former metalworker, left his day job six years ago to pursue his passion — and since then, he’s made waves as brand manager at influential Harvard Square boutique Concepts; written for Highsnobiety, Sneaker Freaker, and other outlets; and collaborated with Nike, Adidas, and New Balance on limited-edition kicks.

He calls Boylston Trading Company an “all-encompassing lifestyle,” and fittingly, it seems to have consumed his life: Rivera and Karmaloop founder Greg Selkoe plan to open an appointment-only shop on Boylston Street (where else?) this summer. “My appetite is heavy,” he says. “I’m like a fat kid for art and for culture and for creativity.”

“The Butcher” — his nickname reflects his blue-collar roots — is already well known in international sneaker-fan circles, but he says Boylston Trading Company is what’s put him on the map locally. “Until you get recognition at home,” he says, “you don’t feel like you’ve accomplished anything.”


Boots, $360 (coming this fall).


Varsity jacket, $426 (Photo by Jonathan Kozowyk).

Style File

Style icon?
Greg Lucci at Gourmet Footwear. I just really appreciate his courage — he literally does whatever he wants, but he’s very educated with brands and fashion in general.

Favorite color?
Salmon. I just love it.

Summer uniform?
A Sunspel­ ­Egyptian cotton T-shirt, light corduroy pants from Levi’s Vintage or a pair of khaki shorts, a Harun beaded bracelet or necklace, and Converse Jack Purcells. What attracts you to sneakers? You can really express your individuality with them.

How many pairs do you own?
I’ve given away more than 100 pairs in the past year, and I still have hundreds. I probably have 500 pairs of shoes.

Advice to live by?
Greg Lucci told me, “If you’re designing a shoe, don’t look to other shoes. Go to a glove store, go to a coat store …. Look at other things to inspire you, and don’t be so literal with it.”