NEW YORK — Expect to see Armie Hammer sporting a black-and-white hopsack sport coat on a red carpet sometime soon.
The jacket is part of a collaboration between celebrity stylist Ilaria Urbinati and the Little Rock, Ark.-based Strong Suit that will be launching for spring.
The pair was introduced around two years ago by actress Cameron Richardson, and the result of that meeting will be a collection of men’s suits, sport coats and dress shirts under the Strong Suit by Ilaria Urbinati label that will launch at Nordstrom’s new men’s store slated to open in New York in April. The collection will also be carried at the retailer’s Los Angeles store at The Grove.
“Ilaria is genuinely looking for the best style for her clients,” said Jamie Davidson, founder and creative director of Strong Suit, which was purchased one year ago by Oxford Industries. “She cares about the substance of the clothes, not the branding. So I’m incredibly grateful that she decided to work with a little start-up from Little Rock.”
The negotiations with Nordstrom, which carries Strong Suit’s regular men’s collection at several stores, started over a year ago. But once they saw the collection, “they were totally on board with it,” he said.
Davidson said unlike many collaborations, where a celebrity will just stick his or her name on existing models, Urbinati was intimately involved in every aspect of the creation of the line — from choosing the fabrics to selecting the detailing, even updating the silhouette.
“It’s a different fit,” she said. “The pant rise is higher, the lapel is wider, the buttons are higher. I worked a lot with the texture of the fabrics and the details,” she added, pointing to the “gold hardware” on the waist buckle of one pair of pants and the tortoise buttons on a green suit.
The suits feature a canvas construction, are produced in Mexico, and use all Italian fabrics.
Some of the jackets feature notch lapels — “It’s more Seventies, which I’m into right now,” she said — as well as other special touches. “I love a ticket pocket,” she said. And many of the jackets are unlined. “My clients live for an unlined, unstructured suit,” she said, adding, “I listen to men all day — what they like and what they don’t like.”
Her collection addresses some of her pet peeves when it comes to men’s wear, such as shirts that peek out under vests in three-piece suits. “That’s why a higher waist is important,” she said.
Urbinati added: “With men’s wear, the details really matter. This collection is special, but not showy.”
One detail is a quote on the inside of each jacket from Ralph Waldo Emerson that reads: “Though we travel the world over to find the beautiful, we must carry it with us or we find it not.”
“Ilaria is one of the most literary people I know,” Davidson said.
In addition to being well-read, she has also made a name for herself in the highly competitive celebrity styling arena. Over the years, she has worked with actors as varied as Bradley Cooper, Ryan Reynolds, Rami Malek and Donald Glover.
The line will be promoted on Urbinati’s social media channels as well as in events planned for April 19 in Nordstrom’s new New York men’s store and April 26 in Los Angeles.
Davidson said he hopes to continue working with Urbinati in the future, although maybe not every season in an attempt to make the line scare and covetable to its target younger customer.
“This is editorial and cool and we hope it will move the needle with the younger guy,” he said.
Urbinati is all in and said she’d like to take a crack at designing a fall collection as well. “I would love to do a herringbone and a tweed,” she said.
The Ilaria Urbinati for Strong Suit clothing will retail for $595 to $695 and the shirts will retail for $100, a price point that was especially important to Urbinati. “I don’t have to answer the question: ‘Can you hook me up? No, go buy it,’ ” she said with a laugh. “I love that I can put a big client in this and then when people see it on Instagram, they can actually go and buy it. And I already told my clients they’re all going to be wearing this.”
This is not the first collaboration for Urbinati, who has 102,000 followers on Instagram and more than 16,000 on Twitter. She has created a sportswear collection for women with Eddie Bauer as well as a men’s suit collection for Albert Hammond Jr. of The Strokes for her store, Confederacy, in 2009. That store closed in 2013. She also worked with Montblanc on repurposing its Utility Bag.
“I’ve been wanting to get back to suits for a long time,” she said. “I basically put suits on people all day long so I know what guys want.”
Her collection also addresses some of her pet peeves when it comes to men’s wear, such as shirts that peek out under vests in three-piece suits. “That’s why a higher waist is important,” she said.
This collaboration is the first big move Strong Suit has made since being acquired by Oxford Industries last January for an undisclosed amount. The company was created four years ago to provide tailored suits and sport coats targeted to a Millennial customer at a reasonable price. Suits average $600 or less at retail. It operates under Oxford Lanier Clothes division.