Urbane Inquiry presents…
Kyle Moshrefi of Kipper Clothiers
Two years ago we interviewed Kyle for one of our first Urbane Inquiries when she was working for J. Crew. Today, she has teamed up with Alex Orozco and Erin Berg to bring Kipper Clothiers to the Bay Area. They provide custom made suits to the LGBT community in order to provide true fit and style to their customers. At the moment their services are only limited to the local San Francisco area, but we hope that they will eventually expand.
What inspired you to begin Kipper Clothiers?
As individuals, Erin Berg and I have had success with our own personal styles because we each have an eye for design and fit. At the same time, we’ve seen too many of our friends waste time and money on suits that were poorly crafted or only alluded to a good fit. Kipper Clothiers wants to reach beyond the minimum acceptability of placing female-bodied people in masculine styled suits by providing true fit along with expert styling. We knew we could make the experience better with higher quality fabrics and on-time delivery.
How is the tailoring different compared to going to a traditional tailor?
A lot of people in our community don’t feel comfortable going to traditional tailors because of degrading or non-existent customer service experiences in menswear departments. We’ve had a few customers who have told us that they gave up shopping in person all together and they were happy we existed.
In addition to creating a safe space for our clientele, by offering our services at their home or office, we have a guarantee called the Put-Together Promise. We offer premium service that begins with educating clientele on styling advice and their proper fit. As stylists, we act as guides through the finishing touches and the finer details of a polished look.
Tell us more about the creative process between the creators.
Our individual professional backgrounds mesh well within our roles at Kipper Clothiers. Something we decided to do early on was build a non-hierarchical company. Egos aside, and with our ideal clients in mind, this format has lead to honest discussions about what’s best for the clientele we serve. We maintain an open-minded, fashion-conscious culture centered around our passion for redefining iconic styles for lesbians and trans men. It helps that we’re in San Francisco where we get to draw inspiration from the strong queer community.
What is the importance to have a clothing line like this for the community?
Kipper Clothiers recognizes that their customers want shirts and suits that create a more masculine silhouette. It’s impossible to create a special suit or shirt formula that could address the intricacies of sizing and comfort within the LGBT community. Kipper Clothiers’ innovative, transparent approach is to customize shirts and suits to the individual. That means shoulders are form fitting, armholes are raised, and pants are constructed to provide a cleaner line from the waist to the ankle. We’re reaching beyond the minimum acceptability of placing individuals in masculine styled suits by providing true fit along with expert styling.
How have people responded since the launch?
There have been two groups of people, both excited. Some were people who have heard or experienced similar companies and were happy to hear that we launched. The second group is made up of people who have never heard of this upcoming industry. Those people react with horror stories of their experiences, hugs, and even once, a customer cried because they were so happy this finally exists. We’ve had a lot of support and we can’t wait to get more people in well-fitting shirts and suits.
What does the future hold for the company?
Our singular focus is getting our clientele in shirts and suits that fit and look great. In the two months since we’ve launched we have been successful in booking appointments and delighting clients. We’re excited for the future and know we don’t want to expand too quickly. We have seen similar Bay Area companies raise funds, gain clientele, and make promises without being able to deliver on-time. We have big plans for the future and you’ll have to follow us on Facebook and Tumblr to keep up.
What did you wear today?
Today I am wearing brown tassel loafers that I bought during my last trip to Paris. I have on ankle-length, slim fitting navy trousers, an anchor motif belt, a Giles & Brother Skinny Railroad Spike bracelet, my custom Kipper Clothiers gingham shirt, and a camel color linen blazer. Erin is wearing custom Allen Edmonds Shelton Saddle Oxfords, khaki chinos, a pink OCBD, a white paisley bowtie, and a navy and white seersucker blazer. Alex is wearing brown Ted Baker loafers, British khaki trousers with a matching 5 button vest, and her custom Kipper Clothiers shirt, buttoned to the neck, in red and white check, and Warby Parker eye glasses.
For more information or to book an appointment, call or email them at:
Urbane Inquiry presents…
Luke Lalonde from Born Ruffians
One of the things we love is music, but creating great music and being stylish is a plus in our eyes. Seeing as we have shown our love for Canadian lead singer Luke Lalonde before, we figured that we would take advantage of the fact that Born Ruffians were touring in Texas.
Backstage at their Red 7 show in Austin, TX, Luke gave us some insight on his favorite musician style icons, one of his favorite accessories, and his most recent job as a model for H&M’s 2013 spring catalogue.
What do you make sure to pack before you go on tour?
Aside from my underwear and socks, I always pack more than I need. I just make sure that I have a few options for on stage. Just clothes that I can sweat in and get stinky in, [I] just wear those over and over. It’s weird because you want to look nice but you don’t want to ruin all your clothes by sweating in them. Sometimes I just end up wearing what I wore that day. I just grab my favorite shirts, pants, jeans.
Do you have a shirt that you specifically love to wear?
I mean I wear this one a lot - it’s a black short sleeve. This one I’ve been wearing a lot (white and blue vertical stripe) and some floral shirts.
How do you describe your style?
I don’t know - I just wear what I like and buy what I like. I haven’t really been buying a lot of clothes lately at all. If I see someone wearing something that I think is cool, I remember it and try and get things that I think are cool. Maybe like an ‘80s look - early ’80s.
photograph by Cynthia Gurrola at Red 7
Who are your musician style icons?
I love David Bowie but he was crazy, I couldn’t do what he does. The Strokes - when I was younger I thought they were pretty cool. David Byrne for some reason. He just wears regular clothes but he looks cool and he’s lanky and tall. There are certain rock ‘n’ roll things that are cool but I don’t think I could pull off, like The Clash or like Richard Hell. Richard Hell looks pretty cool all of the time, but that’s more punk rock. Every time I put on a leather jacket I just look like a dork.
Do you have any style regrets?
I remember that it was like a New York magazine or newspaper that did some kind of rock fashion piece and they used us for some reason. We were playing in L.A. and they sent a photographer to snap some photos of us and I intentionally put on a stupid fluorescent shirt and put duct tape on it because I was just like, “This is stupid.” Then I was like, “Oh hey, that was kind of a big deal. I probably should have worn something I liked or was cool.”
I wore a lot of hand-me-downs when I was young. I’d get my older cousin Jeff’s clothes. He was two years older than me but five times bigger than me. So I’d get all of his clothes and I just wore giant clothes when I was a kid.
When I first got a job I bought cool shoes because I could never get my own shoes. I got like Nike running shoes and I remember that Quicksilver was cool at the time. Getting some board shorts and some Quicksilver stuff.
I’ve always liked clothes and I’ve always liked looking good because it just makes- I feel like if look in the mirror and I feel confident, it just helps me.
What do you think you’ll dress like in twenty years?
I don’t know. Maybe I’ll be wearing suits by then. I can’t really wear suits right now because then I’d just be the guy in the suit. That or dress like Daniel [Woodhead] (from opening band Moon King) in 20 years.
What are you wearing?
I’m wearing these jeans. I try to find vintage Levi’s from, I guess, the ‘80s when they were more slim fit. It sounds really pretentious but I found a place in Sydney, Australia that takes Levi’s and tailors them to be slim fitting. So I bought a couple of pairs there but they wore through. Anyway, I found these at Topman and they are exactly like the Levi’s that I wear. This shirt I do not remember where I got it. It’s just like a vintage store shirt; I don’t know what its made out of either. It’s kind of like a weird material, but it’s cool temperature wise. These are Vanishing Elephant shoes that I’ve literally worn a hole through. I wear them on stage. And Uniqlo socks, they are my favorite socks.
I love your ring, where did you find it?
It was my grandpa’s ring. My mom actually got it for him in the ‘70s, I think, and growing up I just always remember his hands. He only passed away a couple of years ago, but when he died my mom asked me if I wanted any of his clothes or anything. I kind of figured he would have left this to someone else but I was just like, “If I could have anything it would be that ring.” We were pretty close so I got the ring. I wear it every day now.
How was the experience shooting for H&M?
The experience was really fun, it was pretty weird. I’ve never done any modeling before so it was kind of a weird first thing to do, like a pretty big job. They kind of asked me out of the blue, randomly, to submit a little video of myself answering some questions and then I got the job. They were like, “Hey you got the job. We are flying you to Palm Springs in a week.” So I just went and did it. It was three days of shooting in Palm Springs. They put us up in a really nice hotel. It was honestly very fun; I was scared the whole time. It was recreating festival vibes, so Coachella was the very first thing we shot at Coachella Polo Fields. The second day was supposed to be Glastonbury so I got to wear white pants and jump around in mud. The third day was a pool party. It was six models, including me, the other five had a lot of experience. I had none. I just kind of went with it and hoped that I didn’t look like a dork. I tried to learn from them by watching them and see how they were doing it.
Urbane Inquiry presents…
Henry J. Mendoza of Dei Gratia & Co.
After meeting Henry at the PF Flyers Pop Shop last month, we realized we really wanted to feature a native Texan on our blog. Henry is in the process of opening his specialty shop, Dei Gratia & Co., in Dallas.
Henry discussed the topic of grooming in menswear, his upcoming role as a father, and how Texas has influenced the way he dresses.
Tell us a little bit about how Dei Gratia & Co. came about.
I’ve been in the hair industry for 10 years now, and a few years ago I decided it was time to do my own thing. Since then, Dei Gratia & Co. has evolved from a basic barbershop to a full-blown men’s shop. I wanted to find a way to combine my experience focusing on men’s cuts with my passion for menswear and my love for the traditional men’s lifestyle.
The Dei Gratia & Co. experience will include grooming services (cuts/shaves/hot towel treatments), shoe shines, men’s clothing & accessories, and craft cocktails.
Where does the tradition of grooming fall in modern menswear?
The resurgence in menswear toward a desire for high quality, handmade goods is in direct parallel to the resurgence of the traditional barbershop. It all has to do with the greater trend towards artisanship. Whether it’s style or grooming, we’re looking past our parents’ generation at what our grandfathers and their fathers did. We’re looking at the older cats as inspiration and bringing it into modern times. It seems like I see more hard parts and taper fades on menswear blogs every day.
Beyond trend, it’s just a matter of a man putting his best foot forward. The way a man presents himself is going to say more about him up front than his voice will. To me proper grooming is the punctuation at the end of that statement.
Who or what inspires you daily?
So many things. Most importantly, the fact that I’m about to be a father for the first time. My son is due in June, and Dei Gratia & Co. has now evolved from a dream of mine into a future for him. I want it to be an example of a lifestyle and values I hope to instill in him.
I’m surrounded by some of the most talented friends a guy can ask for. Clothing designers, graphic designers, business owners, craft cocktail bartenders, photographers, etc. Seeing their passion and creativity and getting to work with them for Dei Gratia & Co. is a blessing every day.
Lastly, a daily desire to achieve more than my upbringing and environment taught me I should be allowed to achieve.
Your hair is clearly a main component of your overall look. Do you cut it yourself?
I wish I could say I do. I cut my own hair from about 16-21, but photos no one will ever see prove that was always a bad idea. Now my good friend and master hairstylist Blake Brister and I hook each other up with cuts. We used to work together, so now getting together and breaking out the clippers is a great way to catch up.
How has living in Texas influenced the way you dress?
Being from a small town in West Texas, I learned about having a sense of pride in the way I present myself. I remember going to the coffee shop on Saturday mornings with my grandfather as a kid and seeing his friends sitting around impeccably dressed; whether it was newsboys and cardigans or denim and cowboy hats.
Also, it’s taught me how to have a sense of style while dressing for season (or lack thereof).
What are your favorite wardrobe staples for the spring/summer?
Gingham always finds its way into my spring/summer fits. It’s versatile and can work day or night, dressed up or down. I’ll definitely be spending the majority of the summer in a pair of PF Flyers as well.
What did you wear today?
A grey henley from The Gap over a thrifted Billy Reid button down, red Levi’s chinos, and brown leather chukkas.
Photography by Sukilynn
Urbane Inquiry presents… Matthew Smith
As thrift junkies ourselves, we’re glad we got to interview Mathew Smith, a menswear blogger with a clean, minimalistic style made up of lots of secondhand store finds. He takes various aspects of his life - graphic design and athletics specifically - and peppers their influences into his wardrobe.
Here Matt talks to us about his style wish list, graphic design & style for a college student’s budget. Read on…
How does your athleticism influence your style?
The biggest influence running has on my style is that I wish everything was made of dri-fit material. A more serious answer is that it has given me excuses to dress more lazily, largely because I have some really comfortable warm-ups.
What item do you currently want to add to your wardrobe?
I want some ties. I only own one tie at the moment and I bought it at Goodwill for $2. A tailored suit jacket is also on the list.
How does graphic design influence your style & vice versa?
My style directly reflects the style of my design, both quite minimalistic. In my design I pay a lot of attention to keeping things scaled correctly, aligned, and clean cut, which definitely appears in my outfits. If I don’t like the way something fits, then I’ll alter it to make it fit. If it doesn’t fit how I want, then I won’t wear it.
As a college student, how do you shop on a budget for pieces you love?
I never shop for clothes because they’re usually too expensive and I never have money. Even when I do have money I refuse to buy overpriced clothing, I’d rather buy some clothes at a thrift store. Luckily for me though, I have an older brother who dresses amazing, and I get all of his old clothes that no longer fit him.
What are your favorite menswear shops?
I really don’t know haha
What do you think you’ll dress like in ten years?
Basic, but sharp. Similar to how I dress now but with more options available and higher quality clothes. Dress pants, button up with a tie, and a suit jacket when appropriate.
What did you wear today?
Today’s outfit was a bad idea. It may be January, but being in Florida it still gets incredibly hot (85 degrees). I decided to wear some dress pants, a blue oxford shirt, and a pink and black bow tie. I then sat inside all day.
Urbane Inquiry presents…
Miguel Vieira of Beyond Fabric
We have been admirers of Miguel Vieira and his blog, Beyond Fabric, for years now. His style embodies classic menswear with his Portuguese heritage peppered in. Miguel exudes an effortlessness with his sharp accessories and timeless suits.
For 2013, Miguel brings a piece of Portuguese style to his readers with his traditional fur-collared coats and capes. The outerwear recently caught the eye of street style photographer Tommy Ton when he photographed Miguel and Alvaro Fernandes at Pitti Uomo for Style.com.
We had the pleasure of talking to Miguel about his introduction to menswear and what we can expect from him and Beyond Fabric in the coming months.
How & when did you become interested in menswear?
I would have to say when I was about 16… My older brother lived in London at the time and I flew there often, while drawing a lot of inspiration from whatever he was wearing. So, he was probably my first style icon so to say…I remember wearing Levi’s Sta-Prest in highschool which were “endorsed” by Eric Flat and featured a yellow furry back pocket; I had it stitched in every pair. You can imagine all the staring, comments and remarks I went through in highschool, but in a way I guess it encouraged me to wear what I really love and not think too much about third parties.
Tell us about your new Portuguese coats & capes line. How has your Portuguese culture influenced your style?
Although I decided to write the blog in English as a means to reach a global “audience”, I’m proud of being Portuguese and of our strong heritage and tradition in the textile and shoe industry. After starting the blog and leaving engineering behind, I started paying more and more attention to our national resources: everyone was producing in Portugal, from small independent brands to high-end luxury labels. Running Beyond Fabric and being Portuguese, it was only natural I should promote our national products and show them to the world, as I’ve done in several posts already.
For AW13 I’ll be delivering a line of traditional Portuguese coats and capes worn by shepherds for centuries in our country. These are statement pieces made to resist harsh conditions and keep you warm and can be made from wool or “Burel”, a national unique fabric produced only in two manufacturers. Originally, both jackets and capes feature fur collars and are a bit oversized, making them perfect to wear over a suit (photo of me and Alvaro at Style.com). My idea is to keep their essence while making them a tad more fitted with an exclusive lining, making them available worldwide.
What are your basic wardrobe staples?
I would say a white dress shirt, slim fitting jeans, slacks, cashmere v-neck sweater, brogues and an overcoat/peacoat. Ah, and accessories, always accesories… I think I’d be able to live on those alone, although I do have a big wardrobe.
What are you most looking forward to wearing in the spring?
Some basic essentials from my first Pre-Spring capsule collection FUSS (more on that later), everything linen and bare ankle, boat shoes and slippers.
What were some of the most inspiring things you saw at Pitti Uomo?
Pitti’s a blast in every way, you never know what to expect either from labels or the people roaming around. This time I got a chance to stay there for the whole event and snatch some nice pics of the atmosphere. So, besides the multicultural styles you bump into and are definitely inspiring, there was quite a selection of new brands with interesting products: 1st PAT-RN had really nice tailored knit blazers, Orley had unique waterproof knits and then some of the good old favourites who never disappoint like CAMO or Buttero.
What did you wear today?
Brown herringbone overcoat, striped blue spread collar shirt, navy/gold regimental tie, gray cashmere cardigan, beaten up Levi’s 511 and cognac leather boots.
Urbane Inquiry presents…
Jackie Villevoye of Jupe by Jackie
Jackie Villevoye is the creative mind behind Jupe by Jackie, a medley of hand embroidered and intricately designed bowties and ties. With strong lines and a dapper eye for construction, the designer crafts ties that have become wardrobe staples for the likes of Urbane favorites Sam Lambert and Angelo Flaccavento.
But Jackie’s own personal style is a menswear inspiration in itself. Her sophisticated, classic style is woven into her women’s collection, filled with delicate Peter Pan collars and an array of dresses we are both currently lusting over.
Starting off the return of our interview series, Urbane Inquiry, Jackie tells us about her love for India, hand stitched bowties and women in menswear.
How did your time in India influence your line?
India is inspiring for its colours, but moreover, the smiles on peoples faces and their friendships strikes me each time I am there.
How does your interest in menswear come through in your personal style?
Most of the time, especially at shows, I am wearing a navy blazer and dark grey pants (in combination with one of my ties or bow ties).
Could you explain the process of making your bow ties?
It starts with just fabric and embroidery; only after finishing the embroidery, they start cutting and stitching (mostly by hand) to assemble the piece.
What’s your styling aesthetic for your line?
I love borders and lines (architecture) for the ties, and intricate patterns for the bow ties.
What can we expect from your upcoming collection?
Still inside the head..
What advice would you give to women wanting to explore men’s fashion?
If you are wearing pants with jackets, do not put on your high heels!!!!
What did you wear today?
Today I am sitting in my office with the snow outside, so a nice and warm thick knitted sweater
Urbane Inquiry presents…
Kurt Uhlendorf & Jahn Hall of BKLYN Dry Goods
I was able to meet both of these gentlemen at their pop-up market launch party here in Austin, Texas at a local menswear boutique, Stag. Both Jahn and Kurt were kind enough to allow me to photograph and ask them a few questions while they were in town. It was an awesome experience to be able to hang out and take a shot of Buffalo Trail whiskey with both of these vintage enthusiasts. - Nerie
What place does vintage have in menswear?
Kurt: The vintage look is a popular trend in menswear right now, and while designers are always referencing the past, why not just buy the real thing instead of buying a “copy.” Vintage gives guys the opportunity to dress to the current trends, but also buy something that has already proven its quality and longevity.
Jahn: Kurt mentioned the notion of ‘vintage style.’Sadly, fast fashion and slick manufacturing have consumers buying ‘vintage style’ at Zara and H&M, but there’s a segment of the population who appreciate the level of authenticity of products from a time and place where production value and resources were part of a brand’s ethos. Even when ‘vintage style’ and Americana aren’t relevant, designers will still look to the past when building their collections.
What is your favorite piece at the pop-up market?
K: My favorite item is our collaboration with Brooklyn artist James Fils-Aime who hand painted a camouflage pattern on a blaze orange Remington jacket, which was already an amazing coat, but not very wearable due to its color. The jacket has great details and is extremely well constructed, but now it’s infinitely cooler. Now I just need to find one in my size…
J: I’m a huge fan of this earlier L.L. Bean wool mackinaw. I’ve never seen on in this particular pattern or color and it’s got a an amazing Ideal brass zip and a hidden game pocket which makes for a perfect alternative to a bag when you’re rolling around town on a bike.
What are your wardrobe staples?
K: In New York, we’re stepping into winter right now, and since I’m always freezing, my current staples are chunky flannels, thick wool sweaters to keep me warm, and a great pair of well-worn jeans….
J: Growing up in California, I rarely had to consider seasonal dressing so I’m keen on outerwear. I’ve been wearing this Filson Tin Cloth Cruiser for a few years, and the thing won’t die. Plus it just gets better with age. I’m also a self-identified denim nerd, so nearly anything in denim works for me. I’m generally a fan of the functionality of a good chore jacket and a pair of great fitting jeans.
What are you wearing today?
K: Flannel by Uniqlo, Vintage T-shirt, BLKSMITH Denim Jeans, and a vintage hat.
J: Hat: Norse Projects, Real Tree Camo Hunting
Shirt: Vintage Liberty Tartan
Oxford: Vintage Polo Ralph Lauren
Jeans: 1st Standard
Shoes: Vintage Polo Ralph Lauren Bucks.
Urbane Inquiry presents…
Carl Cunow of Onia
Carl Cunow of luxury swimwear brand Onia is paying attention to your trunks. With his experience working on the Steven Allen production team, he has become an expert in production and a fabrics aficionado. He’s crafted the ideal swimwear that dries by the time you leave the beach because of the attention Cunow has paid to every last detail. He’s now expanding his brand from selling in five star hotel boutiques to creating a father/son swimwear line in Barney’s this February and his more affordable line called Trunks, which will be in Nordstrom Rack and Neiman Marcus Last Call in January. Now, the designer talks to us about his obsession with fabrics and how to step up your beach style.
How did you decide to start doing swimwear?
I started traveling a lot and going to the beach a lot. My fiancée’s family is in the beachwear business. I could never find a bathing suit that fit me or one that I liked that wasn’t crazy. I feel like if you dress nice in the day, you shouldn’t look like a slob on the beach. There was just stuff with logos on it. Spending $260 to have sea turtles on me just seemed kind of amateur. So I launched the line last year, and I was in about six stores. I went to (capsule) in New York and Vegas and picked up 80 to 100 stores. I’ve been doing it full time for 18 months now. It’s a really niche market. I wanted to do something no one else was doing.
How did you decide on the style of swimwear you wanted to design?
When I started my collection, it was a really dark solid color palette, and it still is. I try to keep true to what I started with. We did add prints, but in a way that was comfortable for me. I didn’t want to get a bad microfiber like most brands do and just print something on it. All of my prints come from mills in Europe. I use pretty innovative fabric. But the colors are muted because I don’t like anything too crazy.
It stems from my personal style. I feel like the whole aesthetic is the New Yorker goes to the beach. Everyone wears black, gray and navy, so I didn’t want to do something totally crazy like a California vibe.
What kind of man do you design for?
I want to cater to everybody and not just your skinny dudes. I want to cater to bigger people, older people, and younger people. These are good for that 55-year-old man that wears a size 38, and then his grandson can match him.
How do the swimsuits transition to off of the beach?
Most of the time when I would wear surf shorts, like Billabong or Quiksilver, I’d throw them off the second I got off the beach and put on a pair of cotton twill J. Crew shorts. I wanted something I could relax in and lay on the couch after. When you’re on the beach, you get so much sun that you don’t want to worry about changing. All of our solid fabric has cotton in it when most people use 100% nylon or 100% polyester. I use a blend that’s 55, 45 the majority being cotton. That’s also how we get the really dull colors because of the saturation. It even fades after a few washes in a really nice, classic way. It doesn’t feel so synthetic either. I’m very particular about fabrics. It took me five years to find the fabric I wanted to use for this line.
How did working for Steven Alan influence Onia?
I feel like a lot of young designers come from a more artistic background. But for me, I am creative, but everything logistically needs to be planned right. I know how to work with buyers, and it also gave me really good credibility. I was in all the best menswear stores my first season, which was really great.
How do men usually go wrong with swimwear?
I think guys go with trends a lot. My brand isn’t really a trend. It’s all timeless basics. Guys are wearing what they’re wearing because it’s what department stores and magazines are telling them to wear. It’s like a guy wearing True Religion jeans on the street. It’s like, Okay, we know you’re wearing True Religion jeans, we know what you paid for them, but are they comfortable?
What did you wear today?
I’m wearing Simon Miller jeans. They were my only clean pair. I like Japanese raw denim a lot. I’m wearing a Steven Alan shirt, which was also my only clean shirt. Working at Steven Alan, I have like 100 shirts. Since I’m going to a meeting later, I needed a collared shirt and not a T-shirt.
Urbane Inquiry presents…
Alexander Toy of A. Toy
New York City’s Alexander Toy, 28, creates some of the most versatile, essential bags in the market. Valuing craftsmanship and uniqueness of each piece, the designer makes every bag easy to wear and the focal point of any look. So, get yourself one of Mr. Toy’s bags quickly; only 99 of each design are produced.
A video of Alexander Toy talking about his latest collection is coming soon!
Why bags? What is your connection to the accessory?
It all started with my love for art and sculpture. I first majored in Fine Arts at the Fashion Institute of Technology, and after my first year I ended up randomly taking an accessory class and immediately decided to switch majors. I just love the idea of creating something. Designing something that someone will use and appreciate is so rewarding.
Designing accessories is challenging because unlike Ready-to-Wear (which you need worn on a body for fit etc..), bags are a three-dimensional product, so you have to have a good understanding of the construction and materials.
What is your process of designing a bag for both a man and a woman like?
In the initial design process I think about the end use. For example in spring, an oversized tote is a definite necessity for both men and women. In terms of design, I always focus more on the masculine side first. Men will rarely carry a feminine bag, but women carrying a masculine bag is always sexy.
How do you separate your bags into different “series”?
I wanted to set A.Toy apart from all the other brands. Separating the collections into series helps to tell the story that the whole collection is seasonless, existing until all 99 pieces of each style are claimed. Each item will become a collector’s piece
Why is producing a limited number of each design important to your company?
Producing a limited 99 pieces of each style is one of the most important parts of the A.Toy collection. I see at least 3-4 guys rocking Jack Spade bags every day on the way to work. For me it’s all about that unique find and standing apart from the crowd.
Why do you think owning a good bag is important to a man’s wardrobe?
Owning a good bag is definitely essential. Accessories boost confidence and that is so important. Owning a nice bag is just as important as a man’s watch or shoes.
What is your favorite bag that you own (or have owned) that isn’t necessarily from your line?
Gryson Namesake Woven tote. Its an awesome woven bag. The thing I love about Gryson bags are the special details. I appreciate the fact that every detail is considered, which is definitely something I always am drawn to when buying a bag.
What did you wear today?
Black Rogan t-shirt, a vintage Hamilton chronograph watch, A.P.C. denim, A.Toy Eddie satchel and Common Projects low tops in grey.
Urbane Inquiry presents…
Michael Brown, blogger/graphic designer
When we began the Urbane Inquiry, we not only wanted to talk to those in the menswear business, but we also wanted to get perspectives from our followers who have exceptional style. Clad in his signature bow tie and trouser shorts look, 21-year-old Michael Brown frames his look around timeless menswear elements. The Savannah, Georgia native has a particular aesthetic that has been influenced by his college student lifestyle and profession as a graphic designer. Here Michael talks to us about cringing at bad hairstyles and his beloved bow ties.
What influences your style?
I’m very inspired and influenced by what I see here on Tumblr and the Internet. It’s just a fantastic resource for inspiration and knowledge about style. As of late, I’ve been really influenced by interior spaces. If I could just walk into a beautifully decorated room, take the colors and textures, and make it into an outfit, that would be great. A lot of people dress not for who they are, but who they want to be. I can definitely relate to that. So, yeah, maybe sometimes I do want to be a newsie, so I’ll dress like one.
Why are you interested in style?
Oh wow. It’s all very selfish. I like to say that I dress for myself. When I look good, I feel good. I usually dress my best on my worst day because I know it can cheer me up. I think the process of choosing what to wear that day is really fun, especially when I start experimenting with color combinations and textures. I think that’s why I’m really interested in style. It’s fun.
How does your graphic design major influence your style and vice versa?
One of the most important things in graphic design is appropriateness. Is that typeface appropriate for this poster? Are those textures appropriate for the message you’re trying to get across? I think that “appropriateness” in graphic design terms definitely applies to style and clothing. I’ve really learned to appreciate simplicity and cleanness when it comes to clothes. Graphic design has really changed the way I look at and use color and texture. I understand now how to mix those things when it comes to my clothes.
Style and fashion is a huge influence on my work. My dream career is working for a fashion magazine or anything to do with that industry, so as I get closer to graduation and putting together my portfolio, I’ve been shifting my graphic design work to focus more on those things.
What is your favorite item in your wardrobe?
Does my bow tie collection count as one item? I have some great bow ties that I love dearly.
What is your go-to uniform & why?
I wear a lot of button down shirts tucked into a nice pair of shorts and a “fun” belt. I think it’s such an easy way to look put-together without being so formal. Usually near the end of the school year there are tons of gallery openings happening but I’m also in the middle of classes and finals. I need an outfit that I can put on, go to class, work in, and then go to a swanky gallery opening without having to go home and change.
Your hair is a great part of your look. What inspired it?
I actually used to have really awful hair. I’m embarrassing to go onto Facebook and look at pictures before my first year of college. I really got into not having such terrible hair around the same time I really got into fashion. I definitely looked at how male models were wearing their hair, which was longer on top, cropped short on the sides, and usually slicked back. I should definitely cite Buddy Holly and Mad Men as a huge inspiration for how I wear my hair.
What did you wear today?
A really lightweight, off-white button-down shirt to bear the Georgia heat paired with this great orange and pink floral bow-tie, tan suspenders, nice trouser shorts, and my go-to braided loafers. I wanted to keep it very neutral but with small splashes of almost-fall-but-still-summer-because-I-live-in-Georgia colors.