Nathan Bogle on His New Line and the State of Menswear
Our comrades-in-style over at UrbanDaddy tipped us off to today’s launch of Jardine, the brand-new menswear label helmed by Nathan Bogle—he cofounded a little brand you may have heard of, by the name of Rag & Bone (yes, the CFDA-lauded label started with a couple of guys endeavoring to make a great pair of jeans). Jardine Spring 2013 will be Bogle’s first collection since leaving the label, and luckily, we got to catch up with him to hear the story, get the lowdown on his new line and let him sound off on the post-metrosexual state of menswear.
Talking shop with menswear designer Nathan Bogle.
So, how’d you get into designing menswear? My mother was in the fashion business, so I grew up around it. Then around 2001, I was altering a lot of jeans and clothes, sort of the general uniform I was wearing, and bumped into Marcus Wainwright [Rag & Bone cofounder]. I told him about the idea for a jeans line, and he and I spent the next two years developing and learning every part of the business. Going to factories, sew shops, pattern makers, the whole thing...
Speaking of jeans, you founded Rag & Bone on denim, but we didn’t notice any in this spring collection for Jardine. Was that a conscious departure? Yes and no. I think there are only a certain amount of ways you can slice something. Of course, I love denim and I love jeans, I worked with them so much at the beginning of Rag & Bone—it’s something we built the company on—but for spring I just wanted to do something without them. You can look forward to jeans in our fall collection. I’m doing a couple of styles: a skinny, a slim straight. Clean and classic at a really great price.
So what inspired the collection? Order, symmetry, reduction, less is more—not just aesthetically, but as a brand approach.
Who’s the guy you envision wearing Jardine? It seems like you’ve got a little of everything for everyone with suiting, leather jackets, even a sleeveless tee. Yeah, [when I was] at Rag, we were doing single-category stuff, and this is more of a collection-based approach. It appeals to a mind-set rather than a particular person—someone who understands products and their personal style. A lot of the stuff I’m doing is classic-contemporary. Familiar and approachable and wearable. Guys are so well informed these days that I like to let the product do the talking. And if they respond to that idea and concept, I’ll be very happy.
Yes, we’re definitely in a new era, where everyone, including The New York Times, seems to think men have finally begun caring about their clothes again. What’s your takeaway there? I think that a lot of men do dress well. I think that now that we are, thankfully, out of that ridiculous, “metrosexual term” era, where if a man knew how to cook, dress, travel or basically look after himself, that was seen as somehow sort of vain or effeminate. I think we’re finally out of those woods. Now there’s so much great menswear out there, and your choices have increased substantially. I do think that change of atmosphere—like if a guy wants to wear a jacket that actually fits well and looks good, the judgment has been lifted—it takes away a self-consciousness. So now dressing well is a matter of fact. And I think dressing yourself should always be matter of fact.
What’s your approach to personal style? I like to keep it simple, easy. Wear what makes you comfortable. I generally keep it pretty understated most of the time. Not messing about. Usually a pair of black jeans, leather jacket, a few knits. And I’ve got about 8,000 T-shirts, yet I tend to wear about four of them. I wear a lot of black, actually, with a bit of color coming in and out.
Yeah, it looks like you’ve got a few bold colors mixed into the collection. Yeah, it’s like sort of little pops within a gray-and-black urban landscape. In terms of fabrication, a lot of breathable cottons and a little bit of tech.
We noticed you went high-tech with a few garments—that Mac jacket seems well timed for spring showers. Yeah, spring lends itself to that sort of light, breathable, functional gear. I think it’s really nice to have some tech in the mix amongst all of the light cottons and lightweights to layer in there.
You’ve also got a shirt that looks like the same tech outerwear-y material. Well, it’s similar, but the shirt’s got a lot more cotton in it, so it’s got a tech-y hand to it, but feels like wearing a cotton shirt.
Do you have any personal favorites from this collection? The dress shirts and the leather jacket. I’m currently head-to-toe in the stuff. I’m wearing it every day, and it’s been getting a good response.
So where can we find the stuff, aside from your newly launched webshop? We’ve done a capsule exclusively with Louis Boston. But this first collection is just getting the label’s feet wet, so we’re doing most of it online. For us right now, we’re focusing on reaching out to customers and building brand awareness and expansion of our e-comm for fall and getting direct customers. Breaking into the market at the moment is tough, so going direct to our customers with open dialogue and transparency, giving them great prices and everything you’d get from retail—it’s something really exciting about this new sort of retail model.
Last question: what’s on the horizon for Jardine? We’re producing fall now. Fall is a much bigger collection, there’s going to be leathers, knits, a lot of outerwear, and spring ’14 is going to grow from where this season was. A bit of tech mix, some lightweight jackets, shirting, more denims.
- Najib Benouar