Asked & Answered | Aaron Levine of Rogues Gallery | A Continuous Lean.

Asked & Answered | Aaron Levine of Rogues Gallery

Mar 8th, 2010 | Categories: Asked & Answered, Men's wear | by Michael Williams

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.

Hmmm that model looks familiar...

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.

Comments: 36

36 Comments to “Asked & Answered | Aaron Levine of Rogues Gallery”

  1. DavidH
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 1:57 PM

    This is such a handsome collection — the perfect intersection of the strengths of Hickey and Rogues Gallery.

  2. Makaga
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 2:04 PM

    Can someone shed some light onto the Hickey brand? Does it still exist? I just learned about it a few months ago and love the cut of their jackets. I have been trying to locate a blue Hickey sportscoat, but to no avail. Are they shuttering production? or, just changing direction?

    Am excited for the Rogues Gallery work, too! Looking forward to seeing it in person.

    Thanks!

  3. Jeremy
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 2:09 PM

    looks fantastic! so glad he’s doing rogues now. i will always miss hickey :(

  4. doane
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 2:45 PM

    The contrast in the pic with the slate blue coat and orange tote is lights out.

  5. Lu
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 2:51 PM

    Great interview, Michael.

    Aaron is the perfect choice to lead RG, and his vision for a sensible, tailored masculinity to men’s clothing is what I seek. As he said in a separate interview, “Nothing’s precious, just wear it till there’s holes in it.”

  6. REDD
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 2:52 PM

    I’m a big fan of Rogue’s flannels and the sweaters featured above. Can’t wait to try some of these on.

  7. Lu
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 2:55 PM

    BTW RG fans, the brand collaborated with JCrew, and is now offering limited designs in their stores.

  8. L.A.S
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 2:58 PM

    Mr. Levine is a hero of mine – Dude’s got serious skills. Absolutely fantastic interview. Hickey RIP.

  9. joe
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 5:36 PM

    big whatever.

  10. Michael Williams
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 5:37 PM

    Well said Joe, well said.

  11. Chris C
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 5:41 PM

    Aaron is the fucking coolest! Wish him all the best at Rogues.

  12. Lauren
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 6:19 PM

    Who is the model???

  13. MR.DIXON
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 6:22 PM

    very jcrew………yeah thats it..a little boring but classic.

  14. Michael Williams
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 8:18 PM

    The model is Sean Sullivan of The Impossible Cool fame.

  15. Humbert
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 8:21 PM

    So, just to be clear . . . all the pics show the Fall ’10 line? I assume so, because of the outerwear and sweaters. But it would be great to get an early taste of the chinos and the chambray and gingham shirts.

  16. John
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 8:32 PM

    Prices for Fall are waayyyy to high ! Love the brand but the fits have been off since 2006. Stuff is made in India….Portugal…..China. All three are different fits. It’s not consistent, that’s the real issue here. But I still love the brand. Just get the fits right ! Please !

  17. Don Guss
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 9:00 PM

    i was going to ask about country of origin.
    is john’s list correct, michael?

    i can’t wear Rogues anyway, being an american with very broad shoulders.
    but it matters to me where the stuff is made, either way.

    you’ve never answer any of my questions, but i’ll keep on asking.

    fine interview, brother. keep it up.

  18. theWild&Free
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 9:35 PM

    @don guss,
    John is correct, its all made overseas. Although the hand printed shirts are screened in portland.

  19. lumiere
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 10:49 PM

    I’m a little confused. Rogues Gallery is on “The American List”. As such shouldn’t it be manufacturing their product in America? If not, shouldn’t it be taken off the list, or at least qualified with which is made where?

  20. Michael Williams
    on Mar 8th, 2010
    @ 11:04 PM

    Lumiere — question: how closely did you look at TAL? I’m going to take a guess and say — not very closely.

    Don Guss — I’m not totally sure of every country that manufactures goods for Rogues Gallery, but John is correct in that a good portion are made overseas. Some goods, including those suits, shoes, bags, tee shirts and some other items are made in the U.S.

  21. Andrew
    on Mar 9th, 2010
    @ 12:53 AM

    @John: I really encourage you to give their garments another look come the Fall. Aaron was brought on board to really give the collection the attention it deserves, and developing a proper and consistent fit was very high on his list. This will be the first season that he was fully responsible for, and in my mind, it’s a brand new collection while remarkably staying true to the brand’s overall aesthetic and story. That’s not an easy feat to achieve.

  22. Michael Williams
    on Mar 9th, 2010
    @ 1:02 AM

    Hey John — it seems like you work for a retail store. Why don’t you tell us what that would be.

  23. rob
    on Mar 9th, 2010
    @ 11:32 AM

    perhaps it’s just me but i would be beyond interested to know about the demise? of Hickey. Bad management? design? price point? etc. I feel too often the business side of fashion is never discussed. But without it how is anyone to make money?

    sorry for the thread jack.

  24. Michael Williams
    on Mar 9th, 2010
    @ 11:39 AM

    Rob — the short answer has to do with the HMX Ch. 11 filling. Hickey just crumbled under the pressure of that situation and all of the talented people involved left for greener pastures.

  25. Darian
    on Mar 9th, 2010
    @ 12:08 PM

    Mr. Williams,

    Thank you for providing us with another great interview Sir.
    Oh, and big thank you, for never tolerating the Bull Shit.

    Darian

  26. m
    on Mar 9th, 2010
    @ 4:28 PM

    I’d strangle a litter of orphaned baby owls for that 2 button sport coat. Great interview, thanks for the post. -m

  27. John
    on Mar 9th, 2010
    @ 11:39 PM

    @Andrew…I may just do that, because something makes me come back every season…

    @Micheal… I meant no harm…not trying to take away anything from RG. I’m simply voicing my opinion and experience. I’m sure you can appreciate a garment with a superior construction that just fits like it’s was cut for you and doesn’t cost a crazy amount. That’s my desire for RG. They should have Gitman produce shirts for them!

  28. hearblack
    on Mar 11th, 2010
    @ 2:06 AM

    this is great.
    thanks for sharing!

  29. Fernando
    on Mar 11th, 2010
    @ 9:04 PM

    I am so happy to see Aaron Levine getting the recognition he deserves. He was the reason Hickey was so successful. He has an amazing taste level, understands what a guy needs
    from sportswear to a tailored suit and makes it look inviting and easy to wear.

    I know Rogues is very lucky to have him and he will take RG to the next level. It is what the brand needed. Be patient… just wait and see how a new Creative Director works and develops a collection. I can’t wait to see Spring!! Great Job Aaron and team!!!!

  30. tarvas
    on Mar 12th, 2010
    @ 6:37 PM

    Hats off to Levine, great work! RG’s in for a tidy boost…

  31. hugesunglasses
    on Mar 13th, 2010
    @ 12:16 PM

    Well done. The rare brand that continues to grow and surprise while maintaining artistic integrity. Can’t wait to see where they are in ten years.

  32. andy
    on Mar 21st, 2010
    @ 10:49 AM

    Every decade of the 20th C. brought back askew with tattoos.

  33. alex
    on Mar 24th, 2010
    @ 2:00 PM

    The guy has talent but he blows with the winds. Last year his clothes were much darker (in color) and earthier and less ‘styled.’
    Now they have a constant nautical theme. Yeah we get it guy, you live in Maine! I’d cut way back on the $88 Sag Harbor tees and the shawl collared sweaters which are not testaments to originality.
    And no more short sleeve madras shirts either. We’re not all aged 17.

  34. Michael Williams
    on Mar 24th, 2010
    @ 2:03 PM

    Alex,

    Respectfully, you have no idea what you are talking about.

  35. alex
    on Mar 26th, 2010
    @ 8:21 PM

    Dear Michael,
    Thanks for your respectful comment. But you don’t really explain yourself. Say what you will in the designer’s defense, but don’t just say I don’t know what I’m talking about. Perhaps you didn’t look at his pricey tees and the plaid s/s shirts? Similar ones exist at J Crew and many, many other stores.

  36. Michael Williams
    on Mar 26th, 2010
    @ 8:35 PM

    Alex — do you realize that this is the first collection Aaron Levine has designed for Rogues? That means he didn’t design last year’s collection. You might also be interested to know that Aaron doesn’t live in Maine. Which is why your comment makes you look sort of, you know, uninformed.