Rag & Bone Interview
Written By: Sachin Bhola
Written For: AskMen.com
”We’re both English,” says Rag & Bone duo David Neville and Marcus Wainwright when asked what’s the one thing they would like the public to know about them.
Seriously? In their defense, we’ll chalk that initial response up to being pressed for time in light of New York Fashion Week, where the guys are presenting their Fall 2010 collection today.
“We take pride in the quality and craftsmanship of our garments,” they continue, “so the production process is always under quite a bit of scrutiny.”
Hold up. No celebrity name dropping? No mention of awards (which, we’ll go ahead and point out: 2007 CFDA Swarovski Award for Menswear)? Nope and nope.
But talk is cheap. Take a look at any given Rag & Bone product and let it do all the talking. In fact, it is this very humble and disciplined approach to design that has contributed to the success of the company. In a time when new designers are popping up on every hipster street corner and coming (and going) faster than reality TV stars, it’s refreshing to learn that the duo has put in the time required to build their brand.
About Rag & Bone
Sachin Bhola: Can you give us some background on the Rag & Bone label?
We founded Rag & Bone in 2002 because we felt there was a gap in the market for well-made, functional garments — the kind of clothing our friends could wear. But as we had no formal fashion training, we decided to learn from the garment manufacturers themselves, starting with the perfect pair of jeans. We traveled to Kentucky where, at the time, a lot of the American denim factories were based, and [we] met a lot of craftsmen and women who had spent their years cutting, stitching and making jeans. From there we developed our collections, launching menswear in February 2005 and our women’s collection the following season.
Sachin: Coming from a background with no formal fashion training, what advice do you have for aspiring designers?
Trust your instincts. If it feels right, do it. If it doesn’t, don’t. There are a lot of mistakes to be made along the way, so don’t be afraid to make them. Just make sure to never repeat them.
Sachin: What’s the one thing you would like the public to know about Rag & Bone that they are unaware of?
We’re both English.
But most of our clothing is made in the USA, usually in New York’s garment district when possible. Some categories, such as knitwear, can be prohibitively expensive to produce in America, so those are made in outside factories. We take pride in the quality and craftsmanship of our garments, so the production process is always under quite a bit of scrutiny.
Rag & Bone Fall 2010
Sachin: What was the inspiration behind the Fall 2010 collection?
We were initially inspired by early 20th century British explorers, so the collection references England in all of its colonial glory, with a specific focus on the conquest of Mount Everest from the 1920s through the 1950s — particularly the men climbing Mount Everest in Harris Tweed. Traditional English fabrics are a focus for the outerwear this season, softened by ikat printed silks, superfine wools and technical fabrics mixed with shearling — a lot of shearling.
Sachin: What one must-have item will instantly update a man’s wardrobe for fall 2010? Why?
A camouflage hunting coat. Because camo is epic!
Sachin: With your roots in premium denim, what trends do you see emerging in men’s jeans this year?
Denim is, for us, about the denim itself. So the idea of “denim trends” is almost an oxymoron. We just hope that more and more people become interested in the quality of beautiful Japanese denim.
Men’s fashion today
Sachin: What is the most important garment in a man’s wardrobe; the one big-ticket fashion item that is worth its price tag?
It’s time we started wearing suits again, and particularly a handmade suit. There is nothing more beautiful, in our opinion, that a man can wear. A suit that has been made by hand and tailored to the perfect fit is a garment that you will own and wear forever.
Sachin: On the other hand, which item does a man not need another of in his wardrobe?
Bootcut jeans with square-toe shoes.
Sachin: Let’s talk about the state of the modern male wardrobe – what are the most common male fashion mistakes?
Wearing what you think you should be wearing, as opposed to what you feel good wearing. Or, even worse: not caring at all. But then, if you truly don’t care, then style doesn’t really matter, so it’s not technically a mistake.
Wainwright & Neville on style
Sachin: What male public figures are your style icons? Why?
Brad Pitt has his own unique and very cool style, as does Jay-Z. Anyone who really knows who they are has great style.
Sachin: What do you consider to be the world’s best fashion city for men?
New York, baby.
Wainwright & Neville’s playlist
Sachin: What’s on your iPod playlist?
Autechre, Trentemoller, AFX, Squarepusher, Modeselektor, and some dodgy remix of a Liars tune by a mate. Apart from Radiohead, we somehow only seem to be listening to music that doesn’t have any words.