“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.