How did two straight guys from England without a stitch of fashion or design experience between them turn a pair of jeans into a surging American brand that’s in more than 700 doors globally?
David Neville and Marcus Wainwright, who met as teenagers at a boarding school in England, don’t consider Rag & Bone a denim company despite a healthy jeans business, but the label’s roots go back to a simple, rudderless moment in Wainwright’s life. In 2001, after living in New York for five months with nothing better to do — no job prospects, fashion or otherwise — he decided on a whim to try to make himself the ultimate pair of jeans. “That was the initial sort of seed that led to us to the Yellow Pages, looking up patternmakers, going up to the Garment District to try to find denim,” Wainwright said.
It’s not as romantic and happily accidental as that. Wainwright, who at the time was in business with another schoolmate from England, Nathan Bogle (he eventually left the company), had the foresight to trademark Rag & Bone in 2002, two years before he had any product to show. His first attempt at producing an order with a Chinese agent was “pretty crushing,” he said. “There was no soul to the product. It didn’t have that timeless feeling. It wasn’t well made. Everything was wrong with it from my perspective.”
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