Nigel Barker is putting his weight behind a new men’s wear brand founded by former Macy’s and Lord & Taylor buyers Azod Mohit and Brad Gartman, who helped grow the men’s business for brands including American Rag and INC.
The photographer will invest in the brand and has been named artistic director. Barker, who also invests in the buzzy Meatpacking District gym The Dogpound, was connected to Mohit and Gartman through a friend who is a part of Barker’s workout group at The Dogpound.
“I’ve never endorsed or gotten behind a specific brand in this kind of capacity ever in my history,” Barker told WWD. “But when I walked into the showroom I immediately had a reaction and thought these are exactly the kind of clothes that guys want to wear.”
Mohit and Gartman, who will preview the spring line at Project in Las Vegas this week, believed there was a gap in the market for men leaving college who have graduated from teen specialty stores but can’t afford aspirational brands and have no interest in traditional men’s wear brands.
“This customer wants a bit of an edge. He wants a fit that’s more tailored and athletic and he wants price points that are digestible for the average person. He doesn’t want commodity pricing, but he’s not interested in pie-in-the-sky prices,” said Gartman.
The Flag and Anthem collection, which Gartman said combines a prep and vintage aesthetic, includes cotton shirts, graphic T-shirts, henleys, denim and varsity jackets. Shirts are priced from $49 to $59; T-shirts retail around $29; denim is priced from $59 to $69; outerwear ranges from $100 to $129 and knits are around $49.
Gartman said they are following a multipronged distribution strategy. The brand is currently being sold in Dillard’s, Buckle locations, on its e-commerce site and will eventually be available through subscription service Stitch Fix.
As artistic director, Barker will be involved in the brand’s imagery and he will also serve as a brand ambassador.
“He gives us a lot of credibility within the fashion arena,” said Gartman, who added that another key investor is Robert L. Burch, Chris Burch’s brother who’s the chief executive officer of investment firm Redbadge. “Nigel’s going to be an advocate for the brand and work with our creative team. His involvement will be integral in terms of our longevity and how we get across to the customer.”