Workshops hold a special place in Kyle McClure’s heart.
The cofounder and chief product officer of Rhone said his father and grandfather both had these “sacred spaces” where they disappeared to be alone, tinker and create things. “I grew up revering those spaces,” he said.
With that as a backdrop, McClure set out to replicate the idea of a workshop at Rhone. He called it Nanoprojects.
“Everything at Rhone is so collaborative and I felt like I was losing that space to be alone and express myself.” So with the blessing of his cofounder and chief executive officer Nate Checketts, McClure spent the last two years seeking advanced textile technologies, researching fabrics and creating updated designs that he is bringing to market today. Many of the fabrics are new, but not all of them. A Mac coat, for example, he said, uses a Ventile fabric developed for the Royal Air Force during War II.
McClure brought together a small team to work with him on the collection of elevated blazers, trousers, button-down shirts and outerwear that will retail at a significantly higher price than Rhone’s core collection. But McClure believes that the innovative materials and production methods will connect with customers seeking something with a familiar Rhone aesthetic but a more sophisticated approach.
“This inaugural collection is different than anything our competitors have launched,” he said. “It’s more like something you’d see from a designer brand. It’s very upmarket and truly unique for this space.”
Other pieces in the first collection include a boxy T-shirt in a 100 percent cotton interlock sourced from Japan; denim pants in a classic chino silhouette in a herringbone jacquard that has been indigo dyed; a pleated Enzo trouser with cuffed leg openings, side tabs and a tall back waistband in a garment-dyed Italian warp knit; a washable wool blazer, and a Lynn button-down shirt with a contrast cutaway collar and cuff and a zig-zag pattern. “Lynn was my grandfather’s middle name and was one of the names he went by,” McClure said. “This style is based on the type of shirt I imagine he wore going to work at 30 Rockefeller Center during the heyday of TV and broadcasting.”
Prices range from $98 for the Ts and $198 for the pants to $495 for the blazer and $595 for the Mac coats.
The launch collection is intentionally small, only 100-200 pieces of each are being made, McClure said. But it’s just the beginning. He said he and his team are already working on spring and summer pieces for next year.
“Each collection will be a little unexpected and have a specific point of view,” he said.
This collection will be available exclusively on the Rhone e-commerce site, its store in the Flatiron district and at Whalebone NYC stores.
This is not the first innovation product Rhone has introduced. In 2016, the company introduced GoldFusion, a process that infuses gold particles into the company’s highest-performing fabrics for a softer, safer, faster-drying, longer-lasting, odor-neutralizing garment.
Rhone was founded in 2014 and in 2017. L Catterton made a significant investment into the brand, which is believed to have annual sales around $50 million. That followed the $6.2 million raised from a group that included former NFL Network and ESPN executive Steve Bornstein; David Stern, NBA commissioner emeritus; sports personality Ryen Russillo; Shane Battier, former NBA player, and M3 Ventures, an investment fund managed by former CAA executive Martin Dolfi.