A machine gun-wielding model parades across the screen of the Crosby Street Hotel’s subterranean screening room in New York on Tuesday. The seductive female is clad in nothing more than a pair of New Republic by Mark McNairy shoes from their 2018 men’s collection and, to maintain modesty, two thick black censorship bars bouncing along with each effervescent step.
This 12-minute film produced by the men’s wear designer featured a parade of women in the buff displaying affordably priced footwear from slip-on sandals to rose-colored boat shoes.
“It’s about shoes so I didn’t want to dress models in clothes to take away from the shoes so I decided to use naked people,” explained McNairy in his unhurried North Carolinian drawl. “Then I decided people would rather see naked girls than naked guys — and that’s just it.”
Once immersed in preppy design, the former creative director of J. Press has in recent years eschewed the Ivy League-inspired aesthetic he carried on while at the venerable American label.
“With respect to the heritage and tradition, I am by no means Ivy League,” continued the 56-year-old. “I appreciate elements of [that style], but I like workwear, military, punk and hippies.”
Those more cutting-edge looks can be seen in his collaboration with New Republic and its sister brand Five Four Clothing Club. Two years ago McNairy relocated from New York to Los Angeles in a move he “swore to God” he would never make, but the taciturn creative has been inspired by a recent influx of cultural and artistic types — not just in “the industry” — to the City of Angels. “It’s just starting, but I think it’s really going to happen. They’ve tried to do fashion weeks out there and it hasn’t worked, but it’s coming. F–k, why not?”
New Republic, which was cofounded in July 2016 by Dee Murthy and Andres Izquieta, offers fashion-forward footwear designed by McNairy at a price point more accessible to the average consumer.
“It became obvious after about two months [in business] that it’s really about fashion and the guy out there is looking for on-trend product as frequently as possible,” Murthy explained. “Guys now are into shoes like women have been in the past. At $100 a pair you’re getting people to take risks.”