For years, we have been building relationships with stylists, bloggers, recording artists, designers, and creatives alike. You may recognize some old faces and are sure to find new ones. These images capture a series of moments shared by a collective of creatives that make up a portion of the Los Angeles Menswear movements as we take a stroll through Downtown Los Angeles.
Featured: Norris Ford, Quentin Thrash, Norris x Thrash, Donovan Briggs, Rome Castille, The Gentleman Alphonse, Francis Kenneth, Wylie Fresne, Born and Raised, Eric Lloyd, Andrew Cheung, and Rodolfo Ramirez.
Photographer: Travis Kaenel Photography
A STITCH IN TIME
Rodolfo Ramirez + Andrew Cheung Go Fashionably Forward
Interview by: Eugene S. Robinson
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE:
Because looking good is probably the first big step toward being good looking.
If you’re even going to come close to looking cool, it’s going to start with the small touches. A set of cuff links, a tie clip, a scarf and — for Los Angelenos and USC grads Rodolfo Ramirez and Andrew Cheung — a pocket square.
“We were enamored by the symbolism of the modern-day pocket square,” said Ramirez. ”It’s an iconic piece that serves not only as an accent to your outfit, but also as a powerful statement of who you are.”
Specifically: someone who cares enough about how things look to take care when assembling a look.
“A consumer can take a chance with an accessory, and grow into a more sartorially savvy — and loyal — customer.“
When Ramirez and Cheung, both 25, decided to peel off from careers in architectural design and business and film, respectively, to become clothing designers, neither had any background in fashion. “We started Pocket Square Clothing three years ago as a vehicle to explore our own individual styles,” said Cheung. “What you see is very much reflective of who we are personally.” That commitment to distinctive individuality has won them some big fans: NBA notables like Mike Conley, Matt Barnes and top NBA draft pick Andrew Wiggins.
The company specializes in that cherry-on-the-outfit topping, the pocket square. The just-right dash of color in a man’s left breast pocket, the square (really just a folded handkerchief, but one that you’ll be laughed out of the club for actually using for something as gauche as blowing your nose) is right up there with the tie — the thing you’ll notice most when approaching a killer suit and the man wearing it.
“We actually started with bow ties first, because that’s what we were interested in designing,” Ramirez said, “[and then] we introduced skinny ties a bit later, and pocket squares were the third piece to come along.”
It’s a far cry from how they looked back when they were roommates in college, wearing “the standard shirt or sweatshirt with a pair of shorts or jeans,” Ramirez said. “But there was always a shared interest in clothing, and we were always looking to improve the way we personally dressed.”
What we see now when we take a gander at what they’ve wrought?
Boldly quirky collections of ties, bow ties and pocket squares played out over wool, cotton and silk, along with linen, corduroy, denim and canvas. They’re influenced by everyone from fashion retailer Nick Wooster to Street Etiquette’s Joshua Kissi and Travis Gumbs.
The duo deliberately chose Los Angeles instead of the fashion epicenter of New York City to set up shop, making local flavor part of the package. Since 2011, Ramirez and Cheung’s vision has been about aligning inner communities of creatives (musicians, designers, artists), outer communities of structural folks (manufacturers) and the intended audience of consumers and lifestyle agents (stylists, costume designers and anyone fashionably fabulous). “We kept seeing time and time again that the market didn’t offer the fashion pieces we wanted,” said Cheung. “So we took matters into our own hands and made it a mission to make it ourselves.”
“Our vision for the brand has always been to become a style destination for talented gentlemen who care about the way they look.“
It’s a passion that’s put them in over 60 retailers worldwide — mostly boutiques but, notably, in the Nordstrom gift collection this past holiday season. “Our sales growth has been double or more every year,” Cheung said. “Next year, we’re projecting that our growth will hit anywhere between half a million to a million in sales. And one of the greatest things about fashion is that it’s a global language. The international community has really taken a liking to our brand. At least a third of our customers are from a different country.”
“It’s no accident that Ralph Lauren built his empire starting with ties,” says Mick Edwards, a former interior designer at Ralph Lauren and a Los Angeles stylist. “A small but highly visible accessory starts the conversation that builds the brand, and it allows for the possibility of recoverable missteps: A pocket square in a too-bold color or fabric comes at a price point that allows it to find an audience.” Which is to say that a consumer can take a chance with an accessory, and grow into a more sartorially savvy — and loyal — customer for the brand.
And it’s all about loyalty these days, even though — according to industry analysts at IBISWorld — the online designer clothing industry “is highly fragmented and has a low market-share concentration.” The fact that the top three market leaders have only 27 percent of a market that’s seen industry revenue grow at an average annual rate of 2.1% to $9.6 billion during the past five years means the sky is really the limit.
That’s the good news.
The bad news? The space is getting crowded, with the number of industry firms growing at a “6.3% annualized rate from 2008 to 2013, to about 1,982.”
“Look, we’re not trying to reinvent menswear or chase trends,” Cheung said. “And there’s always going to be smarter and brighter people bringing better ideas and designs forward every year.” But the sine qua non that makes PSC different, at least in Cheung’s mind, is that “we’re not trying to sell a product, but rather an idea that people want to be a part of.”
Which is partly design, aesthetics, tailoring, interesting fabrics and a real connection with the local community either via their involvement with The Blazers, a nonprofit providing mentorship programs for inner city kids from South Los Angeles, or just by keeping their fingers on the pulse of what’s happening around them.
Because at this point, it’s really “our customers who dictate the demand for our products and what we would offer next,” Cheung wound up. And what the people are demanding this fall season? “Men’s shirts and socks. Then tie bars and lapel pins.”
Which is probably the smartest thing that Ramirez and Cheung have done yet, according to Edwards. “Making a mistake with a larger, expensive, structured item like a blazer or a suit can ruin a company before its second season.”
“The goal within the next few years is to develop a full clothing collection and eventually open up a flagship brick-and-mortar, since our vision for the brand has always been to become a style destination for talented gentlemen who care about the way they look,” Ramirez closed.
“But who knows what we might get into next?”
Inspired by Michael Bierut’s essay, Style: An Inventory, we look to a creative, Eric Lloyd. Multitalented, his skills are represented and embodied by his art. Art that bleeds from the core and represented in textures, prints, emotional nuances and movements. A sense of exoticism is ever present. He does not belong, yet he does belong; he proclaims ownership over his surrounding. In faith one succumbs to emotions, desires and embodiment of self. Self that is powerful in conviction. Others may not believe, but that does not mean it is not there. This is Style as Faith.
“What matters most is believing it”
Inspired by Michael Bierut’s essay, Style: An Inventory, we look to two Georgian natives, Norris Ford and Quentin Thrash (NorrisxThrash). History echos in the forefront of Downtown Los Angeles’ iconic Cole’s Pacific Electric Buffet. Their vibrancy in dress are juxtaposed against the once iconic trademark of Los Angeles. These stylists exhibit a masterful control over color, texture, and print. They are tastemakers, ready to take what is rightfully theirs. Their movements are effortless only to be augmented by their meticulous nuances from grooming to posture. For Norris and Thrash, style and tastes are what define them; their trademark. This is Style as Trademark.
“You can identify an Emily Dickenson poem by the punctuation alone. There is an entire profession called “forensic linguistics;” its specialists can authenticate a Shakespeare sonnet or derive a criminal profile from a ransom note. What evidence are you leaving behind?”
Inspired by Michael Bierut’s essay, Style: An Inventory, we return for a long awaited third installment featuring the The Durimels, Jibril and Jalan. We diverge from our original three part series to further explore Style as Inventory. Set in the Hollywood Hills of Los Angeles, two brothers don floral textures and materiality shaped by masculine silhouettes. These gentleman emerge appearing as polar opposites yet are paralleled by their complementary pieces. Looking through Beirut’s lens, we find ourselves searching for the stylistic qualities these two fashion bloggers have. They are free from the confines of habitual design to delve into the philosophies of experimentation, re-purposing, and anti-style. They are style rebels.
“How to break out. If you’re right handed, draw with your left hand. Determine the most sensible, practical thing to do, and then do the exact opposite. Pick a color at random. Force yourself to use the typeface you hate the most. Take on a problem that you’ve never faced before. Overturn the game board and make up new rules based on where the pieces fall.”
We are hosting another giveaway in collaboration with The Durimels. TWO lucky entrants will have the opportunity to each win three pieces featured in this editorial. The Giveaway includes:
1. Like Us on Facebook
2. Like The Durimels on Facebook
4. Don’t forget to leave an unique comment on this post below! (Please use a valid email address as this is how we will validate your entry. Your email will remain private and will be used solely for the purpose of this giveaway)
All entries will close on Monday, March 18th at 11:59PM PST. Two random winners will be chosen and announced on the by the following Wednesday, March 20th. All countries and ages are eligible to enter. In the meantime, check out the rest of the editorial below. Good luck!
Tailored staples for the classic enthusiast. Featuring The Diplomat Tie and The Ellington Pocket Square
A pick for the refined gentleman not afraid to don pink. This outfit combines textural undertones and camouflage print to achieve a well balanced sartorial look. Featuring the Peach Raspberry Tie and The Corporal Pocket Square.
This vintage inspired outfit plays with tweed and corduroy to achieve a sophisticated look. Featuring The Cherry Espresso Tie and The Colt Pocket Square.
Shop these pairs for $55 HERE
In collaboration with our friends at VII Winners and Rome Castille, we would like to give our fans the opportunity to build on their PSC wardrobe. We are hosting a giveaway for one lucky winner to receive the entire Rome Castille collection, a $125 value. The collection includes:
Inspired by Michael Bierut’s essay, Style: An Inventory, we look at style through an inventory which defines style as destiny, uniform, and trademark. Michael Bierut’s style as uniform speaks to the oxymoron man, in this case, a man who wears suits but pairs them with caps. This man is a rapper and singer yet he wears suits, he likes looking fancy. Who is this man? This second of a three part video editorial features a man of style and grace, a man of swagger. He wears his uniform proudly; he is a revolutionary man, he is VII WINNERS’ Rome Castille. Set in the heart of South Los Angeles, a man of style emerges undeterred from his surroundings, he has embraced his gentlemanly attire.
“Style as uniform. Charles Baudelaire: “Dress like a bourgeoisie, think like a revolutionary.””
Featured Music: Toy Light http://soundcloud.com/toy-light
Meet Andre Power. The team had the pleasure of meeting him at his Steez Trunk Show event in San Diego, CA last month. Power is an emerging force in San Diego and is largely responsible for bringing the underground art and music community together in the city. Originally from Philadelphia, Andre’s been making a lot of noise in San Diego as an artist, creator, DJ, and just about everything he can get his hands on. He’s also one of the co-founders of the Punctilio Project and Soulection. Punctilio Project is a creative fashion/art project by Andre and his partner Eden. The project was created to offer people rare vintage and renewed clothing while providing them with an all around creative experience that includes style, art, and music. Andre also started his own music label, Soulection. The label features a set of carefully curated underground artists of San Diego’s beat scene with an aim to provide a unique audio and visual experience. Besides the Punctilio Project and Soulection, you can find him hosting a variety of events including Art in the Park, Steez, and Trill. If you’re in San Diego or just curious, Andre is definitely someone to keep on the lookout for. Hear more from Andre himself on our sit-down interview with him below.
Inspired by Michael Bierut’s essay, Style: An Inventory, we look at style through an inventory which defines style as destiny, uniform, and trademark. Michael Bierut’s Style as destiny comes to an affirmative conclusion that style can only emerge through a process of authenticity, only then is one’s destiny revealed. This first of a three part video editorial features VII WINNERS‘ Creative Director Donovan Briggs. Set in the heart of South Los Angeles, a man of style emerges undeterred from his surroundings, he has embraced his gentlemanly attire.
“Style as destiny. Style was never discussed when I was a student. There was a vague sense that genuine style emerged unconsciously in its own time, like breasts or facial hair. Trying too hard would derail the process and result in something less than authentic. What a wonderful promise: within each of us is a unique voice that will reveal itself, but only through patience and practice. Use the force, Luke. Do or do not, there is no try.”
Rome Castille – VII WINNERS
VII WINNERS Recording Artist Rome Castille is no new face for the brand, his collection with PSC has been a big hit and the collaboration between the brands continue. This multi-part Editorial takes a closer look at several individuals so as to discover what style is to them and why they do what they do.
Donovan Briggs – VII WINNERS
Creative Director of VII WINNERS, and Rome Castille’s Manager talks style with us. Briggs has been working closely with PSC for the past year and is set to drop a collection of pocket squares for PSC’s Floral Collection in the near future. This multi-part Editorial takes a closer look at several individuals so as to discover what style is to them and why they do what they do.
The Summer Collection Mixtape – Rome Castille
The Summer Collection is a 19 track mixtape, including 2 bonus tracks. The collection is a well thought out summer essential that is sure to transition well into your fall playlist. Among several, the mixtape opens with a Kanye West sample which sets the mood for the rest of the mixtape. As a part of his visual package listeners will notice that each song has been assigned its own artwork. These visuals help illustrate his sense of style and serve as a lookbook into Rome’s multifaceted style and personality.
The Summer Collection is a testament to Rome Castille’s musical talents. The mixtape showcases his different styles of music in a well thought out transition from mellow classics to hyped party anthems.
Designed for Pocket Square Clothing, the Rome Castille Collection is a manifestation of several collaborations. As his first fashion collaboration, Rome sought to use his style and energy to define the collection’s feel and color palette. In the collection you will find a mix of floral and tropical prints which were channeled from the style of his “The Summer Collection” mixtape. The Editorial piece finds Recording Artist Rome Castille and his Creative Director Donovan Briggs in the Los Angeles Arts District. If you recall it was home of our Instant Branding Project.
Visit Rome Castille’s Official Website At: wwww.romecastille.com
You can shop for the pieces of the Rome Castille Collection Here
A lot of exciting things are happening here at PSC and our collaboration with Rome Castille is one of them. The past couple weeks we’ve been working with Rome to produce a series of videos entitled “Rome in a Day” to help his fans get to know him and his music better. The series features five of his songs: Michael Phelps, Rebound, Skin, Acura Integurl, and Bigger Than Life. When coming up with the concept, we looked at the phrase “Rome was not built in a day.” Thus “Rome in a Day” was born. We expect big things for Rome for the upcoming year and are excited to see his popularity grow. See the full series at www.youtube.com/romecastille
Admittedly our blog content has been lacking in the past weeks, and this is exactly why. I (Rodolfo) have been working on my architectural thesis, meaning I’m finally done with school. Hurray for me and the company! lol Let the expansion begin. If you recall, we posted a video about a super cool project named Pop-Up Hood, we took a great liking to the core values and premise under which it operates. As such, I looked to create a similar Pop-Up Shop condition which operated under similar principles – local made is good and it should be supported. The thesis aimed to create the ultimate Pop-Up shop via a generative process that created a proscribed kit of parts derived from needs of Pocket Square Clothing. These kit of parts were to allow for the ultimate bad ass in house design studio. Storefront, Showroom, Design Space and Workshop or Research and Development were to be all encompassing in the Pop-Up model. Simple was the goal, the more generic the module – the easier it becomes to brand – the more versatile it becomes.
A lot has happened since last year, much was learned and much is to be expected this year. We’ve been hit up by a number of countries including Japan, South Korea, Canada, and several others in Europe. Future collaborations and new collections are also being thrown into the mix. The attention we’ve been getting has been phenomenal across all boards, we’ve been super busy as of late. With a healthy base here in LA, PSC’s second largest following is based opposite of the Mississippi in New York and New Jersey. We figured it was time to spread our wings and head out there to see what all the fuss over in NY was about. Check out our latest video entitled “The Documentary of a Dream,” which we’ve tailored to showcase our Cali swag.
Last week Rodolfo and I had the chance to collaborate with Klein Epstein & Parker on a photo shoot. KEP recently opened their first store on Robertson Blvd. They specialize in custom made to measure garments, but also offer a variety of ready-to-wear shoes, shirts, and accessories. If you’re looking for an affordable yet quality made to measure suit in LA, you’ve come to the right place. Their staff can help guide you with choosing the right fabric, buttons, lining, and the likes. We paired some of our new 2011 Winter Collection Ties and Pocket Squares with some of their merch for the photo shoot. Check out the images below.
We visit Sixhundred for an exclusive interview. The boutique has been open for only 11 months and is located in the heart Downtown Los Angeles, a few steps away from shops, restaurants, and night life of the Art and Fashion Districts. The store was founded by owner Alan with the help of his friends, Oh and Kelly. They specialize and house the best local Los Angeles indie designers, and carry unique and vintage clothing and hard to find accessories. Did I mention they also carry Pocket Square bow ties? Watch our video and hear Oh talk more about how the store came to be and why they choose to carry local indie designers.