The new men’s wear brand Aedelhard believes rugby teaches important values and lessons to its participants, and has aligned itself with the sport. That the game can be intensely competitive and at times violent is not lost on the brand.
“Beneath the seeming barbarism and occasional debauchery often associated with rugby lives a sport rooted in respect and a strict code of conduct,” Aedelhard declares on its web site. “It’s a game that instills teamwork and discipline.”
The sport has given the world one of the most enduring pieces of fashion — the rugby shirt. It’s that side of rugby that Aedelhard is tapping into, the “sport, intellect, sophistication and gentlemanly conduct — all derived from the game,” said Darrell Kopke, Aedelhard’s cofounder and chief executive officer.
“Dressing well is a form of good manners, and we’re simplifying the process with pieces that are easy to combine, accessibly priced, well-made and designed with intention,” added Michael Nguyen, cofounder and creative director.
Aedelhard wants to disrupt the technical apparel market with elevated, classically tailored and functional performance apparel. The company considers its pricing disruptive, with trousers retailing for $150, blazers, $380 and shirting, $120. “We’re bringing tailoring for the masses,” said Kopke.
The label was conceived when Kopke, one of the original executives of Lululemon, and a former ceo of Kit and Ace, partnered with Nguyen, a tailor who creates custom garments for professional athletes, actors and musicians, and counts LeBron James, Ryan Gosling and Drake among his clients.
Kopke and Nguyen discovered they share a passion for rugby and the sport informs the brand in different ways. “We’re rugby-inspired,” said Kopke, a former player. “We take performance fabrics off the rugby pitch. We make the most comfortable suiting in the world. People want to dress up. They tolerated uncomfortable suiting for too long, and went to ath-leisure. That [ath-leisure] trend is coming to an end. Because Aedelhard is available online, it’s the first brand where you can buy tailoring online and not need alterations.”
Nguyen, a third-generation tailor and owner of Garrison Bespoke Tailoring, is the official tailor for three major sporting clubs in Canada, including the Toronto Football Club, and provided custom suiting to the TV series “Suits.”
The collection consists of 16 pieces, including trousers, denim, blazers and shirtings for day and night, built around mixing and matching a monochromatic palette of black, white, navy and gray. “You can wear the same outfit you wear during the day and change shirt, and you’re set for the evening. There’s no way things can go wrong,” Nguyen said. “The 16 pieces can make 48 outfits. It’s not about buying a whole bunch of things together.”
Shirts come in a four-way stretch-knit fabric and trousers “are as comfortable as jogging pants,” Nguyen said. “Men have a trouser problem today. There aren’t well-fitting trousers that are comfortable.”
“We’re going to establish our position in men’s wear first, then you’ll see us make the evolution to women’s,” Kopke said, noting that Aedelhard is available in sizes XS to XL. “The XS and S sizes can be worn by women. Our trousers are looser and wider-legged. It’s a very flattering fit. The knit fabrics are extremely forgiving and drape. Through body mapping, we created a collection to fit athletic body types. When a woman is wearing Aedelhard, she’s belting it up.”
Aedelhard’s range of accessories includes a duffle bag for $274 that’s already sold out; backpack, $186; black toque, $49; water bottle, $49, and insulated growler, $98, as well as first-aid kits and rugby footballs. Also, framable rugby photos, $24 per print, and a player in ink on canvas, $299.
“We’ll offer up some interesting capsules for shirting, suiting and accessories to give some flair to the brand,” Kopke said. “Men seem to have more stability for consistent product. Men don’t want the traditional fashion model of seasonality.
“We want to share our love for the game and its values beyond the pitch through the gift of rugby,” Kopke said, adding that 2 percent of Aedelhard sales are being donated to provide youth an opportunity to learn the game and power of rugby culture.