We’ve been meaning to tell you about Rag & Bone’s DIY Project for some time now. As the New York brand’s website states, it’s “Where our favorite girls get into our jeans. No stylist, no hair and make-up, no lighting. Just a girl and her camera. And Rag & Bone.” One news outlet described it as an excuse for gorgeous models to take glorified selfies. And what’s wrong with that? Not a damn thing, in our book.
The newest set of photos features model and actress Emily Ratajkowski, who rose to sudden fame recently after appearing in the music video for ‘Blurred Lines’ by Robin Thicke. And although the video—even the “edited” version—is too racy for your discerning eyes, good readers (this seems to be a theme lately), we can sleep well tonight knowing that we’ve shared Ratajkowski’s tastefully alluring Rag & Bone photos with you. Happy Friday.
While we’re still teetering in the fog between fall and winter, a sturdy sportcoat can do double-duty as your 9-to-5 workhorse, as well as your top layer to and from the office—just flip the collar up and throw on a scarf and/or knit cap when you leave the building. Here are a few editor’s picks that will see you through ’til parka season:
1. Thrill of the Hunt. Peak lapels and a coat-like, full-button front set this sportcoat apart from the pack, while a timeless windowpane plaid grounds it firmly in menswear tradition. Shop:Rag & Bone ‘St. Regis’ Sportcoat
2. Mid-Century Modern. If you read your GQs, you’re well-acquainted with the rise of “geezer style.” Here’s a nubby plaid your dad’s dad might have worn—in a trim fit that’s ready for 2014. Shop:Vince Wool-Blend Blazer
3. Mixed Media. A literal remix of tailoring traditions, this patchwork of pinstripes and plaids is more than the sum of its parts. Wearing it is easy—just pair with simple solids. Shop: Junya Watanabe Patchwork Blazer
Last week, Men’s Shop Daily had the distinct pleasure of catching up with Marcus Wainwright (left) and David Neville, co-founders of Rag & Bone, at their in-store appearance at Nordstrom Bellevue Square, near our Seattle headquarters.
Below, the two British designers—who met in boarding school in England, before starting Rag & Bone more than ten years ago in New York—discuss their fashion baptism in rural Kentucky, smashing guitars, and style advice that every man should swear by.
MEN’S SHOP DAILY: Welcome to Seattle. Have you been out here before?
DAVID NEVILLE OF RAG & BONE: “We’ve been a few times, but only ever to see the people at Nordstrom. It’s worth the trip. It’s an amazing company.”
MSD: That’s great to hear—what makes you say that?
NEVILLE: “I think that when you look at the history, and the legacy of how it was started, and what it is now…I’ve actually read [Bruce Nordstrom's] book, Leave It Better than You Found It. The fact that it’s still run by the family, and the approach to customer service, and differentiating themselves as a store…The success that’s bred is kind of amazing. It’s 130 stores in America. I should be like a spokesperson.” [Laughs.]
MSD: You’ve noted the photography of August Sander as an inspiration for your Fall ’13 men’s collection. What drew you to his work, and are there any favorite photographs that stick in your minds?
MARCUS WAINWRIGHT OF RAG & BONE: “I’ve got a lot of his photography. I like photography—I collect [it] and like taking pictures myself. Part of it is just the subject matter—apart from the photographs themselves, the clothes are really cool, and very relevant to Rag & Bone. We do a lot of workwear, we do a lot of tailoring, and the August Sander pictures capture a lot of people working—and he captures them in a period where people were working in suits. If you look at the early pictures of rag-and-bone men, after the Second World War, they’re working day-to-day in tailored clothing. There’s no T-shirts, there’s no just shirt-and-jeans. And there’s a sort of beauty in that handmade clothing that’s been disheveled and rumpled and rained on and worked in.
“So the subject matter of the pictures is amazing. There’s a German aspect to it, which is pretty cool—it’s quite sort of different from the English stuff; it’s less sort of ‘dandy.’ There’s an amazing picture of a baker…and one in particular of a guy in a street in the most beautiful coat, which we made a sort of version of, which closed the show. It’s just great photography.”
MSD: Does Michael Pitt [the actor in Rag & Bone's fall campaign] have the best hair in Hollywood?
NEVILLE: “We were actually a little bit worried about his hair in a couple of the pictures—it just looks a little bit too sort of retro, kind of Johnny Cash, which wasn’t really the reference, you know. But he’s a cool dude.”
WAINWRIGHT: “He does have good hair.”
NEVILLE: “We had fun. He was awesome. He came to the shoot really sort of enthused, and there’s an amazing moment where he smashes his guitar in the middle of 6th Avenue. That was his idea, and it was fairly impromptu—it wasn’t staged or anything. It was cool content to just be able to create.”
[Seattle band Campfire OK played a killer set at our in-store
event—decked out in Rag & Bone, of course.]
MSD: When the two of you first decided to start a clothing company, you visited a legendary denim factory in Kentucky. What was that experience like, and what did you learn there?
WAINWRIGHT: “It was the birth of Rag & Bone in many ways. It was a very old denim factory in Tompkinsville, Kentucky. It had been a massive factory at one point, but everything had shifted—been bought or invested in by a Mexican company, and a lot of denim [production] had moved to Mexico. So it basically shut down most of it, and it was just sort of 60 people, as a sample room for the Mexican production—but it was the best sewers and pant-makers that they had.
“It was an amazing place with 50 years of knowledge about how to make proper jeans. It was an incredible place to go to, when you had no experience in fashion at all, and never really been to a factory to speak of, and you were sort of baptized into the fashion and sewing world by these women who were in their 60s, sewing jeans all day, proper salt-of-the-earth ladies from Kentucky—in a dry county, so there’s no booze. It’s rural Kentucky, and they take great pride in their work, and they’re just lovely people. They taught us the meaning of quality and authenticity and the value of that history of craftsmanship—and the value of that experience, and how easy it is for that to disappear.
“They were the last of 3,000. They shut down within two or three years of us working with them. The ladies who’d been sewing their whole lives went to work in the local outboard motor factory, or Walmart, or waiting tables. Never to sew again. The American-invented and American-owned skill of sewing jeans just disappeared from that factory forever, and it’s happened across this country. And that’s sad. So I think our company has a lot to thank that experience—to thank them—for what they taught us about the importance of maintaining that, and not just shipping everything to a factory that’s chosen based purely on price.”
MSD: If you could give male readers one style tip for Fall 2013, what would it be?
NEVILLE: “Don’t try too hard. Do what feels right; what you feel comfortable in. Menswear should never really feel like you’re trying to make a fashion statement. I think that can go desperately wrong. You should just be wearing what you feel comfortable in—and what your wife tells you you should be wearing is maybe a good tip.” [Laughs.]
WAINWRIGHT: “Guys should take pride in their appearance. I think when guys go wrong it’s when they try too hard or they don’t try hard enough. And you get a guy who just doesn’t think about it, and buys a pair of ill-fitting, cheap jeans and a cheap shirt. There’s a lot of inherent beauty in clothes, and clothes can make you feel great, and I think clothes are worth investing in. It’s worth buying the perfect leather jacket, for example, because it’s something that will be with you forever. It may seem like a lot of money, but it’s worth it, and it makes you feel good. And I think it’s important that you take pride in your appearance.”
MSD: What’s changed, since you founded Rag & Bone in 2002, in your approach to designing menswear?
WAINWRIGHT: “Not a lot. Menswear doesn’t change much anyway. We’ve been through periods of being more or less adventurous with men’s design, and we learned a lesson as men’s designers, quite quickly, that if you go too far out of the box, guys don’t get it. Girls are way braver—and way more willing to take a risk. You couldn’t get a guy into a white, leopard-print jacket, for example. But that looks cool on you [nodding to our female video producer in the room]. You’ve got to reference things that a guy is familiar with, whether he’s conscious of it, or subconsciously, something he’s seen in a movie, or seen his dad wear, or seen in photographs. That’s what menswear is really about: beautiful fabric, and detail, and making clothes that guys are familiar with—but at the same time, pushing it gently forward in terms of design, and the fashion part of it.”
MSD: After growing up in England, you’ve both lived and worked in New York for more than ten years. What do you appreciate about each place you’ve called home?
NEVILLE: “New York City is an amazing place. The energy of the city is intoxicating, and it’s very different to London in that regard. We thank New York for really giving us the platform to start our company—not just from a practical standpoint, but also from an entrepreneurial sort of enthusiasm, which I don’t think you find in many places in the world. We’ve been in New York a long time, and we feel sort of like adopted New Yorkers now, so that’s great. We miss London, miss our friends, miss the pubs…but I think both of us are very happy where we are, and don’t really have any intention of moving back.”
MSD: Do you visit London often?
NEVILLE: “We have a store in London now, which is exciting—and I think made our parents quite proud.”
— — —
In Their Own Words. Here’s a short clip of Rag & Bone founders Marcus Wainwright and David Neville, filmed before their personal appearance at Bellevue Square Nordstrom last week:
Our study in Fall contrast continues with clean-cut prep, worn-in leather, streamlined stripes, and woodsy plaid from some of our favorite Designer Collections. Photographed at Kubota Garden, a 20-acre sanctum of lush pines nestled amongst the stark pavement of south Seattle. [See part 1 of this series.]
Yin and yang. Light and shade. Concrete and jungle. Life is a study in contrasts—and your Fall wardrobe should be, too.
To fully meditate on Fall’s dense tweeds, intricate knits, revved-up leather, and sturdy workwear, we took our favorite Designer Collections to Seattle’s historical, 20-acre wooded oasis, Kubota Garden—as well as the surrounding urban sprawl. The conclusion is clear: Fall’s best clothes feel calm, cool and collected, whether you’re in nature’s domain or the wilds of the city.
While Rag & Bone’s English-born designers, David Neville and Marcus Wainwright, have described their core aesthetic as a mash-up of British tailoring and New York street, their spring 2014 men’s collection—unveiled earlier this week in London, after years showing in the brand’s home base of NYC—subtly referenced Japan.
This came by way of a geometric twist on traditional sashiko stitching (see detail below), as well as innovative textiles (a Japanese specialty), such as sturdy cottons washed with salt or coated with Teflon. The British designers also collaborated with Caleb Crye of Brooklyn-based military apparel specialist Crye Precision.
In other words, spring has never looked tougher—nor more prepared for rain or shine (even the suits look weather-proof). Check out highlights from Rag & Bone’s Instagram feed below (including the space mere hours before showtime, Neville and Wainwright observing a final run-through, and R&B-branded pretzels), followed by video footage of each look.
You’ll have to wait a year for this collection to hit shelves. Until then,
SHOP: RAG & BONE
It was just last week that we mentioned the CFDA (Council of Fashion Designers of America) and its uncanny knack for a) honoring our favorite menswear designers in the biz, most recently Thom Browne, and b) throwing parties that draw highly photogenic crowds.
The CFDA’s noteworthy deeds continue this week with a collection of one-of-a-kind weekend bags that the non-profit organization, along with Detailsmagazine, commissioned from top menswear designers including Michael Bastian, Rag & Bone, Todd Snyder and Billy Reid.
[The plain, military-surplus duffel each designer started with.]
The bags are being auctioned on eBay through this weekend only. As of this posting, Todd Snyder’s is the most hotly sought after with 23 bids. But you know how these things work: The auction ends June 17; now’s your chance to stake out your favorite bag, then swoop in at the last minute to drop the winning bid.
Check out our favorite bags below, and pop over to eBay to see about scoring a one-of-a-kind work of art (slash piece of luggage). All proceeds go to the CFDA to benefit new and emerging designers.
Michael Bastian. The 2011 CFDA Award winner patched up his bag like an Eagle Scout sash full of merit badges; but in a Jack Kerouac-like twist, the obscure mementos look like they’ve been collected throughout a road scholar’s lifetime of strange trips. Shop Michael Bastian | Bid on This Bag
Rag & Bone. Sleek black leather contrasting the faded olive give this duffel—by the English-bred, New York-based duo behind Rag & Bone—the look of a refined doctor’s bag. Perfect for carting a change of clothes uptown to hit the gym before or after the office. Shop Rag & Bone | Bid on This Bag
Marc Jacobs. Win this auction, and you get not only a cool bag—but also dozens of what appear to be hand-doodled buttons to pluck off and pin to your jean- and leather-jacket lapels. Shop Marc by Marc Jacobs | Bid on This Bag
Tommy Hilfiger. It’s amazing how some blue dye and leather accents can make an Army/Navy bag look incredibly luxe—as with Hilfiger’s unmistakable play on one of our favorite trends for summer: unapologetic Americana. Shop Tommy Hilfiger Watches | Bid on This Bag
Billy Reid. Alabama-based Reid devised one of the most functional duffels of the bunch—complete with longer handles to toss it over your shoulder during endless airport treks, and a strap on the end to easily nab it from the overhead compartment (or the flatbed of a truck). Shop Billy Reid | Bid on This Bag
Todd Snyder. This Iowa-born designer chose to pursue the ‘Navy’ side of Army/Navy, with a sailor-inspired creation that turns the conventional duffel on its ear. Rugged natural leather and sturdy rope make it ready for a long boat ride—preferably to the Bahamas. Shop Todd Snyder | Bid on This Bag
And two more auctions we’re eyeing: Richard Chai (top) and Public School—we don’t carry these guys, but they made some of our favorite bags of the bunch. The former utilizes a rare color scheme we suddenly hope to see more of: olive green x neon blue.
The latter, in always-appropriate black on black, looks like a cross between Michael Jackson’s jacket from Thriller and some space-age survival gear from our recent favorite sci-fi film-festival throwback.
With an eye on dressy details like smart stripes, contrast collars, and physique-enhancing designs at the chest and shoulder, we chose a few favorites below—any of which should hold up as well in a casual work environment as they do on the weekend. Browse additional options here: MORE DRESS POLOS
[Note, the polo shirt up top is by Fred Perry.]
Last week, along with our friends at GQ, we brought you loafers that are classy enough for the office, comfy enough for the weekend.
Today, the second in our series of GQSpring Trend Reportsshowcases that all-American casual classic, the Jean Jacket—which, as the tie-clad lad above proves, can also be dressed up as a substitute sportcoat. Below, GQ Creative Director Jim Moore (left) and Deputy Editor Michael Hainey offer some key insights on jean-jacket fits and colorations:
Check out own favorite jean jackets below, from raw denim to washed-out. Click the images to shop each one, and browse additional options here: MORE JEAN JACKETS
[Note: The jacket up top is by Rag & Bone.]
Thanksgiving is next week, and there’s pretty much no better time to wear a sweater: The weather’s finally nice and crisp, the vibe is quasi-dressy but comfortable—and a soft, forgiving knit lets you load up on yams without popping a shirt button.
The festive occasion (coupled with the fact that you’ll be surrounded by friends and family, rather than the judging eyes of strangers) means the time is also ripe to break out something more…obscure. And when it comes to sweater inspiration, Bill Cosby is king. For proof positive, visit The Cosby Sweater Project, an ingenious mix of TV nostalgia and original artwork by Chicago illustrator Kelly Tucker. Here are a few of our favorite recent entries:
To find sweaters with Heathcliff Huxtable levels of swagger, you might need to hop a time machine to 1985 (or at least locate your nearest thrift store). But we have hundreds of modern interpretations, from eye-catching to classic. Here are some ideas to get you prepped for the big day next Thursday:
Fair Isle. This pattern has been quote-unquote “on trend” for a few seasons now—but given that it’s derived from a Scottish island that’s been occupied since the Bronze Age, you can bet it will stick around for centuries to come.
Shown: Topman | Jack Spade | Grayers
…And if you’re up for a second helping of Thanksgiving spirit,
check out these appetizing pants by Bonobos:
[Artwork by Kelly Tucker, via The Cosby Sweater Project. View more of Tucker's work at i draw pictures. Cosby Show stills courtesy of Carsey-Werner, Viacom and Paramount. Individuals featured do not endorse Nordstrom.]