A Conversation With | A Continuous Lean.

Get to Know Australia’s Most Stylish Tailor.

Dec 19th, 2014 | Categories: A Conversation With, Jake Gallagher, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

tumblr_mo0gcaqGN41qhb7kho1_1280

One of the most telling facts about Patrick Johnson, the Australian tailor behind P. Johnson, comes well after our interview has officially concluded. Johnson is in New York for his brand’s first official U.S. trunk show, and as we’re exiting the Bowery Hotel on the Friday before the show starts, he tells me that during his younger years he had trained to become a winemaker, only to learn that he had a serious allergy to a key ingredient in wine. It’s the sort of discovery that would have crippled a lesser man, and yet Patrick tells me this story with a wide grin on his face. In fact he says just about everything with that grin on his face. By the time Patrick learned of his allergy he had already found a new passion, clothing. Winemaking is a career, but it’s also a labor of love, much like tailoring. And so he traded one passion pursuit for another, becoming the most famous name in Australian menswear, and growing his eponymous label from one small tailoring shop into a global business, one that is large enough to require regular visits to America, with a permanent New York City shop on the way.

ACL: You’re pretty established in Australia, what made you guys want to start looking towards the states?

PJ: Well, the Australian market is quite a small market. We obviously enjoy it there, but it’s pretty small. We have a lot of clients who live in America, either Americans or ex-pats, and so we decided after a while that we’d start showing here, basically just to grow a bit. To grow inside of Australia, from a business point of view, we’d have to change our aesthetic a little bit and I didn’t want to do that. So yeah, just client demand and a bit of an adventure, get us outside of our comfort zone a bit.





The Unconventional Waltzing Matilda.

Nov 12th, 2014 | Categories: A Conversation With, Jake Gallagher, Made in the USA | by Jake Gallagher

10612917_710636509058589_2021987918436680896_n

Mike Balitsaris of Waltzing Matilda used to buy toilet factories, but now he’s busy eyeing shoe factories. He’s journeyed from rust belt factories to a Nebraska mine to a Cupertino boardroom to a former shoe factory in Maine, but his goal has always remained the same. Baltisaris sees the potential for creating great things, and creating them right here in America, with all that he does. After a serendipitous moment in Red Wing, Minnesota he founded Waltzing Matilda and has been crafting bags, shoes, belts, and other accessories ever since.  A supremely interesting and extremely likeable guy, Mike never set out to create a collection. (Full disclosure, Paul + Williams advises and represents Waltzing Matilda.) All of the product was born originally out of a specific need or a desire for things of a certain quality.  What began as a hand-made bag and a pair of sandals has evolved into a collection and a brand with more than its fair share of personality.

As our conversation revealed Baltisaris’ story is as winding as it is fascinating, and it’s impossible to predict what lies ahead for Baltisaris or Waltzing Matilda. But he wouldn’t have it any other way.

ACL: To begin, I understand that you have pretty interesting backstory, so what were you working on before Waltzing Matilda?

MB: Most recently for the last fifteen years, I hired on with a group of likeminded individuals, it had started off as real estate but we didn’t like to take farms and fields and get them redeveloped and put office buildings up. We would go around to rustbelt cities and find these unbelievable projects. Old factories and lofts with good bones. We always called it “taking field trips,” and we’d go in and look at the bones of the buildings and we’d work something out where we could figure out how to buy it by getting tenets to go in. We actually would make a deal with the owner to give us time to be able to find a tenant for it, cause none of us had any money.

978003_376986335756943_1962249124_o

Comments Off




A Conversation with Club Monaco’s Aaron Levine.

Sep 30th, 2014 | Categories: A Conversation With, Made in the USA, Menswear | by ACL Editors

Aaron

“Nothing can be precious.” That’s how Aaron Levine, the Vice President of Men’s Design at Club Monaco, sums up his personal style, but during our discussion I came to realize that this was actually how Aaron views his work as a whole. Club Monaco is no longer the small brand it once was, yet Levine continues to steer the ship as if it were a schooner, and not a barge. He forges ahead, taking the brand into uncharted territory, while all the while maintaining the balance of the brand so as to not tip the whole thing over.

Sure, Levine’s time at (comparatively) smaller labels like Rogue’s Gallery, Hickey, and Jack Spade has certainly influenced this agile approach, but Levine seems to revel in the actual work that goes into creating each collection. Club Monaco (who we should say, is a client of Paul + Williams) has evolved significantly in the three-plus years that Levine has been at the company, but he still finds himself squarely in the trenches, and there’s no other place he’d rather be. We spoke with Levine about this design approach, the way in which menswear has changed, Club’s Made in America initiatives, and even Belgian Shoes.

ACL: You’ve been designing for Club Monaco for three years now, in that time how do you think men’s design has changed at the brand overall?

Aaron Levine: Overall, men’s design has changed in the last, it’s almost three and a half years now, it has changed in that time in terms of, we have upgraded fabrics, we’ve upgraded materials, we’ve upgraded trim, we’ve upgraded and recalibrated fits, and then on top of everything we have cleaned up and edited and honed the aesthetic. So, it really has grown up over the last three and a half years.

ACL: With you saying that about better materials, better quality, and considering your background was at smaller brands at a time when quality became really important, is that something that guides your design at the start?

AL: No. You accrue information and you hone your eye and hone your abilities as you get older and the longer you do it. I think sometimes maybe that’s the starting point, it’s definitely thought of, but I think in terms of when I first sit down and I start to develop a collection, I start at the top with what I want it to say overall. And then as you get into it there are places where you’re pushing more experimental pieces and then maybe there’s places where you’re pushing superb quality, like in tailored clothing.





A Conversation with Scott Sternberg of Band of Outsiders.

Aug 6th, 2014 | Categories: A Conversation With, Jake Gallagher, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

scottportrait3.5.23.11 (1)

On the afternoon that I arrive to interview Scott Sternberg at the Band of Outsiders New York offices, the racks at the back of the showroom are almost entirely empty. Last season has already been shipped off and the next collection is yet to take its place, and this transitional state speaks well to the spirit of BoO. In the ten years since he founded Band, Sternberg has never stopped moving and reshaping his L.A. based label. Along the way, he has racked up countless accolades, started a women’s business that’s equally as robust, married modern menswear with movie stars, and continuously redefined what prep means in this day and age. As Band embarks on their second decade, Sternberg has his foot squarely on the gas as evidenced by the soon-to-open New York store, which will be their first flagship here in the states. We sat down with Sternberg to discuss the plans for this store, the meaning of prep, the L.A., New York divide, Starbucks, and even economics.

ACL: This January marked ten years of Band of Outsiders, what has changed in that time? Both from your personal viewpoint as well as how the brand is now formulated?

Scott Sternberg: Essentially it’s the same through-line since the idea of Band of Outsiders, even before it was called Band of Outsiders came up. This idea of being the future of American prep, this sort of modern American preppy uniform and system of dressing. I think what’s different is that I make women’s clothes and through the process of doing that and learning how to do that, which was self taught, I became more interested in different ways of pushing things a little further, beyond just making a great suit, a great tie, and a great shirt. And that’s all within a pretty strict bubble of wearability still. Whether that’s graphics, fabric development, certain construction tricks, any of that stuff, over the years I’ve just gotten more playful and inventive with the clothes, but essentially it’s the same system of dressing. Hopefully I’m getting better at what I’m doing. *laughs*

Through the years we also started making products as objects to also styling those in the looks and then creating a narrative out of what those looks are, for a fashion show, for a look book, for a Polaroid campaign. So there’s this whole layer of imagery that sits on top of the product that again, same message, same thing: prep, American, humor, levity, all that stuff. So yea, boring old me, same old thing.





A Conversation with Michael Hill of Drake’s London.

Apr 8th, 2014 | Categories: A Conversation With, Accessories, Jake Gallagher, London, Menswear | by Jake Gallagher

Micheal-Hill-570x570

At thirty-five years old Drake’s London Creative Director Michael Hill is roughly the same age as the brand itself. This fact is interesting because when Hill took over as lead designer for Drake’s in 2010, he did so with the vigor and sensibilities of a man well immersed in the diversified mentality of the fervent post-millennial menswear set. Prior to assuming this principal role, Hill had apprenticed under Michael Drake himself, earning an invaluable education which primed him to assume creative control once Drake sold the company was purchased by Mark Cho of The Armoury. It has been Hill’s ability to align Drake’s tradition of incomparable accessories with his own taste for more progressive pieces that has kept Drake’s as one of the preeminent brands in the world. I had a chance to speak with Hill about the brand’s growth, both in scope and in style, as well as his personal style, the role of the internet in menswear, and the future of Drake’s.

ACL: When you took over as lead designer for Drake’s in 2010, you really took the brand to new heights, what was your mission when you assumed that position?

Michael Hill: I wanted to ensure the continuity from the previous ownership, both in terms of the quality and style of the product and our longstanding, loyal customers.Continuity was as important as anything new I wanted to do with the business and our mission was to give us some longer term stability by putting down roots in terms of our first brick and mortar store, our website and a factory fit for purpose and the coming decades. I also wanted to reassure our own staff as well, as I was relatively young when I took over the company.





Filson Ages Gracefully.

Mar 31st, 2014 | Categories: A Conversation With, Jake Gallagher | by Jake Gallagher

Filson 2

The oldest person in the world is 115 years old. Filson is 116.

For a brand to outlive anyone that has ever, or will ever wear their clothes is an impressive feat in and of itself, but what’s more remarkable with Filson is that they seem to be aging in reverse. Sometime in the mid-aughts, as the heritage movement re-discovered Filson’s unflappable wares, the Seattle-based company was (almost unwittingly) thrust into the spotlight once again. And yet, Filson has never strayed from their original ideals, remaining steadfast in their dedication to quality goods that will last for years to come.

With these values in mind, Filson (who is a Paul + Williams client) has evolved their collections and fits ever so slightly as a way to reach a younger market, without ever sacrificing their spirit. Today Filson’s goods are carried in venerable outdoor stores and fashion-forward boutiques alike, as a testament to the brand’s far-reaching audience. We had a chance to speak with Filson’s CEO Alan Kirk about the brand’s storied reputation, its recent resurgence, and why Filson isn’t a “fashion” brand.





Killing Me Softly | A Conversation with Barena.

Mar 4th, 2014 | Categories: A Conversation With, Jake Gallagher | by Jake Gallagher

Barena3 Barena

When Sandro Zara founded Barena in 1961, he did so as a reflection of his surroundings. The attire of the local Venetian people had inspired Zara to create clothes that captured this rich, worn in look that was characteristic throughout his homeland. When Massimo Pigozzo joined the project twenty years, Barena entered into their current, more thorough period, with more innovative designs and a wider array of textiles running throughout their collections. Sandro’s daughter Francesa began working with Massimo a decade ago, at a time when Barena was beginning to garner more attention on the international stage.

Since then, Barena has become increasingly more popular and fun to watch, as they continue to riff off their signature “soft” sportswear style, continuously challenging our assumptions on what Italian tailoring truly is. We had a chance to speak with Francesca and Massimo about the Barena spirit, their designs, and why it’s a good thing that they’ll never change.

ACL: Barena is a brand steeped in tradition, what was it that drew your family to the garment industry back in the early sixties, and could you talk a little bit about how Barena was founded?

Francesca Zara: My father started selling fabrics and since then fabrics have always played an important role in our lives. After starting his company, my father worked together with my mother to start their first company on their own. Together they started to produce handcrafted pieces driven by a strong passion and wish to make it happen. Barena was born twenty years ago as a project whose inspiration came from the hunting and fishing world and more precisely from the Laguna of Venice.