Behind the Scenes

conversechuckIIRedesigning the Converse Chuck Taylor All Star is a risky proposition. We’re talking about the most classic American sneaker, whose design has gone relatively untouched since 1917. A true shoe of the people.

Think about it. Which other garment is worn by young and old folks alike so prevalently? And in various stages of pristine or tattered? Chucks are like Levi’s 501s for your feet.

And yet: Converse designer Damion Silver was faced with a problem. Foot fatigue was an issue. Especially if you’re trying to wear them every day, All Stars have always been a little hard on your dogs.

Enter Lunarlon, Nike cushioning technology.

That’s just one way Silver–a visual artist who shows his own paintings at galleries all over the world–created the Chuck II, a stellar and more comfortable sequel to Chuck Taylor All Star.

We spoke with Silver on the phone at Converse headquarters in Boston proper about shoveling snow, his unrealistic fantasy of one day skateboarding on a frozen golf course–and the pressures of redesigning the brand’s #1 seller worldwide.

converselunarlonShop: Chuck II high | Chuck II low

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tuxedo700
Photo by Kyle Johnson

Parties crack and moods lift to the sounds of Tuxedo, the west coast duo whose 1980s funk is inspired by the past and crystalized in the present by Mayer Hawthorne (Andrew Cohen) and Jake One (Jake Dutton). If the group’s eponymous album is not in your summer music rotation already, we recommend it.

The singer and producer are old friends and hip-hop collaborators. They’re both deejays, too, and initially bonded over mixtapes each had made focusing on artists like Bernard Wright and David Grusin. The shared affinity is central to Tuxedo.

We spoke to them on tour about how Tuxedo fits into this current retro moment in pop (Mark Ronson, Daft Punk) and which piece from their custom Klein Epstein Parker tuxedos Jake One accidentally left at home with 30 minutes to showtime.

Shop: tuxedos

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skylarWhile mobbing around the city during New York Fashion Week: Men’s, we made a point to connect with Four Pins, the irreverent and tasteful NYC-based menswear blog. We check it daily.

News editor Skylar Bergl agreed to an interview right outside the entrance to #NYFWM, and we decided to sit in an Escalade we’d been granted use of by one of the Cadillac representatives hovering around. Much to our surprise, when we opened the Escalade door we found none other than Gabrielle Union staring us in the face.

She looked pretty irritated and said: “HEY.”

Wrong Escalade!

We apologized, closed the door and stepped into the correct Escalade ten feet away.

Anyway, here’s Bergl on the meaning of #NYFWM, the leap from being a tumblr fashion enthusiast to full-time style writer–and which articles he’s writing next.

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coppens1Meet Tim Coppens (last name rhymes with opens), the talented designer who came up through the ranks at Ralph Lauren and adidas and is about to bring his CFDA award-nominated style to Nordstrom. You could call his look athleisure but you’d be better with athluxury.

After all, this is the Belgian designer who recently put 150,000 Swarovski beads on Vans sneakers at New York Fashion Week: Men’s.

Tim Coppens will be shoppable mid-August on our website, and his wares sold in physical form exclusively at our Seattle headquarters and our new Canadian store in Vancouver, B.C.

We caught up with Coppens in his NYC showroom the day after his #NYFWM runway show to get to know him better through his spring/summer 2016 collection, his most personal work to date.

The collection is a memory-dive into his formative years skateboarding around New York City with his European friends in the 1990s, listening to hip-hop, watching Kids and VHS tapes of 411 Video Magazine. That crinkly nylon jacket above comes from Method Man. His red leather pullover is a Patagonia hijack. The magic mushrooms on his varsity jackets come from Tom Penny, the reclusive skater with the psychedelic public image.

Basically, Coppens dream of the ‘90s represents a magic part of his life when he hung with a tribe and followed his instincts, and which changed him forever.

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jeffreykalinsky1Ladyfag, doing the most

Next time you want to throw the party to end all parties, consider making it disco-themed and getting the savior of New York nightlife Ladyfag to host.

That’s how Nordstrom Fashion Director Jeffrey Kalinksy celebrated 25 years of his Jeffrey boutiques, a milestone which occurred recently during New York Fashion Week: Men’s.

The party went down at Jeffrey’s Meatpacking District boutique and the scene centered around queen diva Ladyfag and Honey Dijon, who deejayed while models and fashion insiders danced to the sounds of disco and the clinking of Clicquot-filled flutes. There was much vogueing and merrymaking.

Jeffrey was kind enough to do a quick Q&A the morning after. See that + party pics below–and check out The New York Times’ review of the event here.

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billy-reid-headshotBilly Reid was one of the designers we looked forward to meeting most at #NYFWM, whose stuff we love (both his excellent every day clothes and subtly radical runway collections) and whose whole perspective is on-point, culturally and socially.

Click here for images of Reid’s spring/summer 2016 collection.

We caught up with the designer backstage before his runway show at David Zwirner Gallery in Chelsea. He told us all about his collection and which music he listened to while designing it–and opened up about his special connection to Charleston, SC, and being moved to take action after the tragic church shooting there.

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prellheadshotIt was a sweet scene off Canal Street for Zachary Prell’s first presentation of his career, this career being Prell’s second after he took a look around at all the dorky-dressing businessmen in his office one day, self included, and said: No more.

We caught up with the designer during his presentation surrounded by models who had been with him since his early campaigns.

Shop: Zachary Prell

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publicschool1Fun fact and weird link: before being the toast of menswear today with his design partner Maxwell Osborne at Public School, Dao-Yi Chow wrote graffiti for years. He also wrote articles for long-gone hip-hop magazine The Flavor, which was run out of Seattle (Nordstrom’s headquarters) and included as a staff writer Strath Shepard, now a Nordstrom creative director.

In between the hundred or so interviews Chow did immediately after Public School’s S/S 16 show at New York Fashion Week: Men’s, we asked him about his old life and about the social commentary in this Public School presentation.

Shop: Public School

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twinshadowThe bond between music and style is strong in any situation. But with Twin Shadow and Public School, it’s dang near familial.

Backstage before the Public School show at New York Fashion Week: Men’s, rock star Twin Shadow talked with us about scoring every Public School show so far and what specifically was asked of him for this spring/summer 2016 collection. He was also a model in the show.

Listen to the score and check the Q&A below.

Shop: Public School

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publicschoollineup1New York brand Public School won the CFDA award for Menswear Designer of the Year in 2014, and since then designers Maxwell Osborne and Dao-Yi Chow have seen their star explode into a billion suns, gaining popularity for their progressive yet supremely wearable sportswear. Their history as designers for Sean John now seems ancient, and their presentation at #NYFWM was hotly anticipated. It did not disappoint.

Models included stars: style icon Nick Wooster, actor/seller of fine things Waris Ahluwalia (scroll to the end of this post) and musician Twin Shadow, who scored the event with heavy drums and snippets of Gil Scott-Heron. The room was mobbed at 10:30 a.m. and blew up an hour later when fashion/basketball star Dwyane Wade arrived with Gabrielle Union. After that it was a bit nuts; Joe Jonas showed up, other NBA players, a million photographers with blinding flashes.

As the spring/summer 2016 collection hung on models situated in police lineups, each was called forward individually by the voice of God, or maybe a correctional officer through unseen speakers. The impression was very Usual Suspects. Key components were beefier versions of Public School’s iconic, Jordans-meets-brogues sneakers and new baseball hats with metal fasteners on cloth straps in the back.

publicschoollineup2See more images from the show and backstage below, and click here for an interview with Chow and here for an interview with Twin Shadow.

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