Davidson Frere is going it alone.
For five years, the Haitian-American designer worked with Aleks Musika on a bespoke men’s suit brand named Musika Frere. But they parted ways last year, shutting down that brand, and Frere set out on his own.
In February, he launched Frere, a direct-to-consumer business whose roots remain in tailored clothing, but are now complemented by ready-to-wear. Jesse Bride, the longtime vice president who had worked with the duo on Musika Frere, has remained with Frere for the company’s newest iteration.
“This is not Musika Frere 2.0 — my mind-set was to create more of a house of fashion,” Frere said in his New York City showroom as he prepared for his “coming out party” and runway debut during New York Fashion Week: Men on June 4. Half of the 33-piece collection will be tailored and half sportswear. Leathers, trucker jackets, MA-1 bomber jackets and denim are all being offered, but with Frere’s unique twist.
Like the former brand, Frere’s claim to fame is its suits with full-canvas construction and what Bride described as a “razor-sharp cut” in luxury fabrics — but at a significantly lower price than most of its competitors. A similar aesthetic is found in the sportswear. “It’s very old-world, but with a modern fit,” Bride said.
“These are not inexpensive clothes, but they offer better value,” Bride said.
A full bespoke suit, for instance, averages starts at $2,495, while off-the-rack models will retail for $1,995. Sportswear pieces will start at $1,495 for a bomber. In some cases, Frere uses fabrics usually selected for suits so there were bombers in alpaca for the fall season and silk brocade trucker jackets for spring. Seersucker tennis jackets with matching shorts, and dinner jackets in 18-karat gold infused upholstery fabrics are all part of the mix.
“We’re fabric geeks,” Bride said with a laugh. Fabric is sourced from such high-end mills as Loro Piana, Dormeuil and others, with Frere working closely with the textile producers to select or create each swatch to ensure they meet his standards.
The collection is manufactured in Italy and the U.S. Bespoke suits can be turned around in four weeks, and even quicker for an upcharge, they said.
Frere already has a fan in Jay-Z, who wore one of his first suits, a baby-blue double-breasted model to the Roc Nation brunch in Los Angeles in February — and posted on his Instagram account. In addition to Jay-Z, Frere also dressed Sterling K. Brown, Trevor Noah, Michael B. Jordan and Stephen Curry during his Musika Frere days and is hoping to continue those relationships with his new company.
In addition to sportswear, the plan is to offer eyewear and a fragrance as well as a women’s blazer/sportswear capsule.
Frere will continue to be sold primarily on the company’s e-commerce site, with a few select retail clients around the world.
“We want to be very strategic,” Frere said. Bride said fewer than five retailers will be selected to carry the collection for spring.