Marcus Wainwright and David Neville at the Vancouver Nordstrom
Occupying a supremely trustable space in the designer category, rag & bone makes clothes you don’t have to think hard about. They look and feel great, every time.
Recently, rag & bone honchos Marcus Wainwright and David Neville launched Standard Issue, a line they hope you’ll consider even less carefully.
It’s not that they don’t want to engage intellectually. It’s that they want to provide an automatic option for men who seek an unflashy wardrobe foundation–and who appreciate the kind of perfection that comes from British tailoring, where the label and logo aren’t important, but a certain cleanness radiates when you’re wearing the garments.
In our view: mission accomplished.
Read on for Wainwright and Neville’s explanation of Standard Issue–they’re inspired by Japan and the military–and to see images of their office spaces.
Nordstrom blogs: What is rag + bone Standard Issue?
MW: It’s a broad offering of that started with t-shirts and now includes knits and denim, with a view to creating a core, classic wardrobe for guys, the styling of which is anchored by a t-shirt and jeans. It’s basically the building blocks of a guy’s wardrobe, and us honing that. We wanted a guy not to have to think about it. Just pick it up and be confident it will work.
DN: We’re also the customer. I have a lot of Standard Issue in my wardrobe, and like Marcus said, it’s a bit of a no-brainer. The quality’s good. The cotton and the fit in the t-shirts, and in the denim. We’ve tried to simplify the fit message in the denim, too, with fit 0 through 3. Fit 0 is the skinniest leg, fit three is the most relaxed.
Is this you trying to guide the customer in a certain direction, or taking feedback from the customer and being responsive?
MW: A bit of both. rag & bone offers a lot, and the Standard Issue concept is really a cool, refined idea in our menswear of essentials. It’s merchandised in a very specific manner in our own stores and in some Nordstrom stores to highlight the idea of replication, and it’s very precise. In some ways it has a Japanese feeling to it, and it’s also a bit military, in that it’s rationed, if you like. That helps to reinforce the message of the concept.
To play devil’s advocate: Japanese and military how?
MW: The Japanese thing to us is about attention to detail. And the purity and simplicity of products. The Japanese approach to jeans, to indigo, to fabrics is one of purity as opposed to fashion. And the military influence is where Standard Issue came from, the wording. You show up and are handed a white t-shirt.
DN: Or maybe three.
MW: And we say this to each other about Standard Issue: It’s so simple you could buy it from a vending machine. You don’t need a mirror. Our focus has been on not embellishing anything with fashion sensibility, but fit and fabric and attention to detail. We have a loyal customer and this serves him.
Is there something broader about men, jeans and culture now which is driving us toward simplicity?
DN: I don’t know that it’s a correction or a pendulum shift. rag & bone is about timeless men’s pieces of clothing, rather than pure fashion or seasonal fashion, which is trend- or season-based. We don’t wear crazy fashion. The concepts in Standard Issue have always been a huge part in our men’s offering. This is an exercise in highlighting that and making it easily understandable to the average guy. In terms of culture shifting, I’m not sure. Guys have been into this jeans and t-shirt look, I feel, for ages. It’s an essential part of how a man dresses.
rag & bone product looks good online but underrepresents itself that way, to a degree, because the feel of the garments is a huge selling point once you’ve tried them on, and the details are impressive but not flashy.
DN: Well said. It comes from a real appreciation for British tailoring, which is purely about craftsmanship. No one knows the suit was handmade for you, or who made it. But there’s something about you being the wearer of it and how it makes you feel. It transcends the fashion message you’re sending.
MW: It’s sad, that the fitting room experience is dropping out of shopping, to a degree. There’s no real effective experience quite like trying on clothes. Unfortunately most guys don’t gravitate toward that experience, but that’s the nature of it. That’s part of what Standard Issue is meant to address. It resonates and gives you the confidence to buy online, because it’s something you can trust.