Laurence Chandler and Joshua Cooper, the design team behind New York-based men’s wear brand Rochambeau, looked to multiple resources to help them compete at the highest level for the 2016-17 International Woolmark Prize contest, which will be awarded in Paris on Monday, Jan. 23.
Rochambeau, who won the U.S. Woolmark prize last July along with women’s designer Gabriela Hearst, will compete against MÜNN from Asia, Ex Infinitas from Australia, Cottweiler from Britain, Tonsure from Europe and Bounipun from India.
Their winning look for the U.S. competition, which was influenced by the late artist Dash Snow, consisted of a boxer short made from wool suit fabric, a hand-waxed wool vest that looked like trompe’l’oeil leather, a wool hat and trousers. Chandler hopes to build on that with a larger collection that’s been created with help from Nike, Avery Dennison, Chromatic, Larsson and Jennings, Evrythng and Albertus Swanepoel. Rochambeau also worked with fabric mills including Dashing Tweeds, American Woolen, Aurotex, Steady Tex and Kendor Fabrics.
“We want to continue the narrative we created this past summer by bringing on great partners and innovating with wool,” said Chandler, who added that the entire line was created in New York.
Rochambeau, a 2016 Vogue Fashion Fund Finalist that has worked with Nike before on shoes for their runway shows, went to the Nike Lab in New York to develop six custom shoe styles made in full merino wool with a branded “R” and custom keychain that are inspired by Snow’s artwork.
“Josh and I met over a shared love of sneakers,” said Chandler. “We were in an elevator 10 years ago and complimented each other’s sneakers. So Nike is responsible for the birth of the brand and our friendship. “
They partnered with millinery Albertus Swanepoel on a hat that features technology provided by digital firm Evrythng. The hat includes a QR code and NFC chip that can be scanned with a smart phone to provide a personalized, real-time mobile experience. They designed wool socks with Chromatic and a watch with a wool wristband with Larsson and Jennings. Avery Denison helped create hang tags for each specific piece that tell the story of Snow’s artworks.
Collaborative collections continue to be a driver at retail with brands such as Supreme, Vetements and Kith conjuring up frenzy around pieces produced in conjunction with other companies.
“These partnerships allow you to do more,” said Chandler, who doesn’t know if these pieces will be available to purchase after the contest. “We wanted to tell the story of our brand and the manufacturers we work with and make it something that’s bigger than just Rochambeau.”