I have been excited to see Aaron Levin’s interpretation of the heavily Maine inspired Rogues Gallery ever since he landed there as design director — coming from the much loved, but doomed Hickey. I’m happy to report that his first collection of masculine and wearable clothes does not disappoint. I sat down with Mr. Levine for a quick question and answer session to discuss the new fall collection, beards, inspiration and the new Rogues tailored goods.
ACL: How has the transition been, from Hickey to Rogues Gallery?
Aaron Levine: The initial transition is always somewhat difficult. Figuring our differences in working methods, defining expectations from factories…you know, fun logistic stuff. Once the ball starts rolling and everyone has met face to face, everyone feels a certain level of responsibility to each other. After the initial season, the ship starts sailing much more smoothly.
Also, Hickey was, at the end of the day, a very corporate environment. This is totally different — this is a team of incredibly talented and passionate people who are doing something awesome. I think everyone has a very real feeling of ownership in this.
ACL: What is the inspiration behind the AW10 collection?
AL: It comes from all over the place, there are several aspects.
I had to find a common ground between where I come from and what Rogues is. I’m from Virginia, so visually, the common ground came in the whole north woods Maine thing. I love the outdoors…..bada bada bada.
The inspiration also comes from real things. We wanted to make it wearable. we wanted to raise the quality and focus on the details. It also comes from keeping the product something that we could proudly wear, you know? I like to make masculine clothing that isn’t precious.
ACL: This is the first time I have noticed specific stories in the line — for example the upland story, or the tailored story. Was that a conscious decision or something that happened naturally?
AL: Sort of both. We wanted to add a bit of sophistication to the line. When I was working on some of these pieces in the collection, some started drifting towards one direction and some the other… and once the focus and the product happened naturally, we kind of massaged it consciously for it to end up a certain way.
ACL: You have included a flight of tailored goods in the collection. Is this the first time that Rogues Gallery has offered tailored clothing? What call you tell us about it? Where is it made, how does it fit?
AL: I believe this is the first time we have offered a true tailored component. Again, we wanted to keep it super masculine. We shaped the silhouette enough to make it relevant, but not so much as to make it fashiony. I love this aspect…it’s like sculpture. A well made tailored garment is super satisfying to wear.
For the tailored clothes we worked with Southwick. My old head of manufacturing at Hickey ended up at Southwick, so I called him and asked if this was something he would be interested in and as it turns out he was so into it.
It’s so much fun to sit down with people who are equally as excited and passionate about product — talking about lowest common denominators. It is like food, you know? You might not be able to speak the same language, but when you’re both eating a delicious steak you can look at the guy across the table, point to that steak with your knife while you’re eating a bite, smile, take a slug of beer and its all good.
Looking at a gorgeous, natty English fabric that’s been made into a beautiful sport coat or suit with someone is the same thing. Awesome is awesome. Smiles abound when beautiful stuff is made. What was really great was the fact that Southwick was nice enough to make us our own silhouette, a beautiful natural shoulder, floating canvas chest piece, horn buttons…it’s just really nice.
ACL: The suiting is really nice, how soon until we can get our hands on it?
AL: Fall 2010. So everything will be in stores Julyish.
ACL: Last question, is having a beard a condition of employment at Rogues?
AL: Man, just being an honest individual with personal integrity is a condition of employment at Rogues. It is such an amazing group of people. I was really intimidated by them. People just do what they have to do to get the job done. It is just an honor to be here, honestly. With regards to the beard, I just shaved mine off in a fit of spontaneity, the clippers came out and in three swipes it was gone. You just have to do it every now and then. It’s coming back now though.