It is one of the first new luxury brands to come out of quarantine confinement — Connor McKnight, alum of both Kith and Bode, will launch a namesake label on Sept 24.
McKnight, with his new range of relaxed high-waisted pants, varsity-style knits and technical outerwear that references postwar silhouettes, hopes to create a brand that offers a window into fashion’s future — luxury that is well-made, thoughtful and durable for everyday use. His brand ties its identity to concepts that the fashion industry has cyclically used as marketing buzzwords, but has not yet enacted into everyday practice. It is made with all gender identities in mind and previews the fruits of a more diverse design landscape — laurels that are natural to McKnight’s way of life, his social circles and the way he prefers to dress himself.
The brand’s initial two preview images, photographed on McKnight’s father while on a family vacation in Michigan, exemplify the designer’s soft-spoken, sentimental nature. His collection draws upon aesthetic memories as a child in the suburbs of Washington, D.C., as well as nearly a decade living in New York City, where he has spent his entire adult life — experiences all lived as a young Black man in America.
His laser-print shirting and nonchalant tailored separates — made from natural fibers in colors reminiscent of a yellowed suburban diner — aim to offer a kind of baseline architecture for the modern wardrobe. While McKnight often finds himself scouring vintage racks and resale sites for statement pieces, he saw “a lane being missed” for simple clothes that improve with wear — a Patagonia-type mentality, if you will, for luxury sportswear.
“I wear my clothes to death, I don’t believe in people throwing clothes out. There is a sort of refinement that comes with day-to-day wear. I really like buying things and owning them for years, having things that I can wear into that age with time and I don’t have to replace,” McKnight said of his objective.
The designer was careful to make sure nothing was too stiff or precious, making clothes to be worn in daily life, rather than for special occasions. Puffer coats and vests are double-lined to prevent down feathers from poking through, and denim pieces have been fully riveted to avoid tearing over time.
McKnight’s experience helping churn Kith’s hype machine, as well as scaling production for a luxury start-up at Bode helped him strategize his own business, which he hopes will be a primarily direct-to-consumer endeavor — taking on wholesale partners only for international growth and brand exposure.
Styles will range on average from $350 to $2,000, with some hand-knit accessories starting at $65. McKnight’s brand will launch on his e-commerce site, developed as an immersive shopping destination that draws on visual cues from a midcentury-style familial home, built by his grandfather in 1959.