NEW YORK — Rag & Bone is breaking the rules again.
On Wednesday night, the New York-based brand presented its spring men’s collection in an unconventional manner, using a “photo project” shot by Andreas Laszlo Konrath in a Dia: Chelsea gallery on the west side of Manhattan.
The looks were photographed on 26 “friends of the brand,” a mix of famous and regular people that included comedian Jerry Seinfeld, basketball star Carmelo Anthony and Ben Lovett of Mumford & Sons, as well as entrepreneurs, photographers, restaurateurs and music producers. The shots also include wives of both managing partners of Rag & Bone wearing men’s clothes.
“It’s a pretty eclectic group,” said Marcus Wainwright, cofounder and designer. “We don’t care if they’re recognizable. The point was to present a cross-section of people who we think are awesome or cool. You don’t have to be a celebrity to matter.”
Rag & Bone filled the walls of the space at the event with 44 blowups of the photos and supplemented it by tacking pieces from the collection up on the walls on hangers. “That referenced our first-ever look book” that was shot in that way, Wainwright said.
He noted that a stylist worked with the subjects to choose the looks for each photo, but several decided to tweak the outfits to better represent their own personal taste. “And that’s how it ended up,” Wainwright said. “These are people who see clothes in a particular way.”
David Neville, the other managing partner, said showing the collection in this way is “fresh, and a good representation of the brand.
“The concept is rooted in the idea of reality. These are real people and this is the way they dress in their day-to-day lives.”
Both men say the idea of holding a runway show during fashion week no longer appeals to them. “It’s just not interesting,” Wainwright said. “It just becomes a blur of men’s brands. We love that format, too, but we don’t want to do just plain runway shows anymore. By forgoing a runway show, we can focus on amazing pieces.”
Neville agreed. “With men’s runway shows, you can get distracted by showing fashion just for the sake of it. Our message for our men’s wear is real people in real clothes. We use beautiful fabrics and silhouettes, but they’re not screaming at you. And this concept allows us to do that.”
They also chose this week — one day after Michael Kors opened the season in New York by showing his collection in his showroom — because “people are just back from Europe,” Neville said, and the New York trade shows open next weekend. “So it’s in between. There’s never really been a defined New York men’s fashion week so this is our pre-men’s market.”
For the spring collection, Wainwright said the pieces are “languid. There’s an ease and a drapiness. We used a lot of cotton this season and while there isn’t a specific theme, we’re referencing nonchalance in a Jackson Pollack-I-don’t-give-a-f--k way. There’s nothing rigid.”
Even though most of the collection was fluid and looked “lived in,” there was nevertheless still a nod to the company’s English workwear roots in pieces such as a black cotton sateen pant with a railroad stitch, and Japanese selvage pin-striped suit separates in indigo or cream. Elongated silhouettes were evident in oversize cardigans and a plaid shirt, and there were also performance pieces such as a seam-sealed nylon jacket with a touch of linen in it. Cut-off sweatshirts, cropped cotton pants and a moleskin coat were also offered, and the brand reissued one of its original pieces, a Fifties-inspired James Dean shirt that could double as a pajama top with its white piping. But perhaps the pièce de résistance was a racing boat sailcloth coat laced with fiberglass. “It’s wicked,” Wainwright said.
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