"Each one of these bandanas is vintage. Most of them are made in the USA from the 1950s and '60s. The designer picks colors that go well together and she sews them together on a home sewer with a zig-zag stitch. It's made in Sunset Park in Brooklyn, at 65 bucks you can't beat it."
One of the biggest stories of fashion week actually happened off the runway. It was the opening of the first store from Nepenthes, the Japanese collective which may not have instant brand recognition but does boast a cult following the world over.
Nepenthes, 307 West 38th St.,
New York; 212.643.9540
Keizo Shimizu started Nepenthes as a menswear distributor in 1988 and a year later, opened the company's first foray into the retail sector in Aoyama—a section of Tokyo known for its fashion houses, shopping and restaurants. 1989 would also see Shimizu's expansion into the United States, starting off in Boston and then moving to New York in 1996.
It was here that they began to create their own brands, including Daiki Suzuki's highly acclaimed Engineered Garments label. Famed for its attention to detail and locally sourced products, it's no surprise that the first American Nepenthes store is located in a former union sewing shop in Manhattan's Garment District. In fact, there's been no change to the outside of the shop. You could easily pass by it without knowing what's inside. Which would be a well-curated collection of utilitarian, artisanal and eccentric pieces, many of which are available in the U.S. for the first time.
Workwear enthusiasts will feel right at home in the shop's Engineered Garments selection, stocked with collaborations with Golden Bear, a section devoted to Suzuki's women's collection FWK (a reference to Fenwick, Katherine Hepburn's mansion), along with some other eye-popping store exclusives.
"We bought a ton of vintage over pants—super-wide pants you wear over your clothes—and sent them to Japan and they cut 'em up and turned them into jackets. If you look at it close you have cargo pockets sewn into the seams, and it seems like it's willy-nilly patchwork but the cut is really precise. These are one of a kind."
Modeled by assistant designer Abdul Abasi
People on the search for more unique pieces will be pleasantly surprised by tie-dyed woven shirts and paisley-patterned pile jacquard jackets from the Needles label, designed by Shimizu himself. The collection includes a beautiful line of handmade eyewear, much of which has the signature of the artisan who assembled the piece stamped into the side.
A set of stairs leads to a loft full of well-traveled accessories: rugged bags from South2West8, a wide variety of neckwear, thick rugby socks from New Zealand, handmade rings from French brand Bague a Part, and a cabinet full of various Native American accessories handpicked by designers Daiki Suzuki and Angelo Urrutia from a trip to New Mexico. The room also features footwear from Allen Edmonds, as well as Nepenthes collaborations with Trickers and Mark McNairy.
When Valet stopped by shortly after the grand opening buzz, we were fortunate to have assistant designer Abdul Abasi show us a few of his favorite picks from this season's offerings.
"If you really wanna kill 'em softly, this is super subtle. But because they have alternating patterns on the left and right boots, people might think like you dressed in the dark or something."
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