Archives

Q&A w/ Christine Hychalk

ChristineHychalk

Christine Hychalk has been the designer of Fidelity Sportswear for the last 5 years. She is an extraordinary women who centers her life around the cultivation of a healthy and balanced lifestyle. In addition to eating healthy, working out and caring for her two sons, she has won numerous awards in WBFF (World Beauty Fitness & Fashion) & OCB (Organization of Competitive Bodybuilders) fitness competitions, specializing in bikini masters and bikini open class. Not to mention she is a real deal biker babe. For the sake of time, we only had the opportunity to speak to Christine about a fraction of her talents. Read more about her work for Fidelity Sportswear below.

How long have you been designing for Fidelity Sportswear? Describe the basic concept for your pieces.
I have been with Fidelity 5 years. I like to design using classic silhouettes and find keeping it simple works well for us, with small details for interest.Tell us a little bit about your background. How did you fall into outerwear design?
I’m somewhat dating myself but I have been in the fashion industry for 25 years. I graduated from the Fashion Institute of Technology with a Fashion Design degree and a Production Management degree, with an internship at Cynthia Rowley. After college I moved up to Massachusetts where I was hired by a well known Outerwear company in Boston in 1994. There I had an excellent mentoring in the entire garment cycle. In 2008 their operations shifted and so began my journey with Fidelity Sportswear.

Your work stands out for its subtle details. Can you speak more about this?
It works best for our customer. For example, I like to take our classic Pea Coat and mix it up a little by adding biker inspiration… The Baseball Jacket did well for us but if you look up military coats online you can see that is what inspired the garment and we were able to work it in with that trend.

You have really come a long way with the women’s collection. What are your goals for 2015 and what have been the challenges along the way?
The ladies’ collection has definitely been a challenge. We have so many markets that we sell. Some prefer tight fitted silhouettes, some looser boxier fits. This year we are trying to really create more fit options for our consumer. In addition, we are going for a very classic look that is more appealing to a woman 20′ – 40’s.

What Fidelity garments do you think are the most successful and why?
The Pea Coat. It’s classic, part of our history and the consumer is familiar with the styling.

What Fidelity garments do you think are the least successful and why?
The Duffle Coat. When it is a trend, we do well, but there are enough companies out there that have a Duffle Coat as their core style. The Mantle (a men’s cape) is another possibility. It was a great conversation piece, but we only sold a handful of them. It did, however, make it onto a blog where we received a very flattering review.

Where do you go for inspiration for a new collection? What is catching your eye for 2015?
I like to think about our roots and find ways to keep the brand looking iconic. To keep it current, I like trend following whether it be shopping in NY, looking to Japan or what’s in the news, listening to our buyers. Let me just say for next season our clients will be very happy with the collection. We are making some changes to the labeling with a hint of 80’s-90’s iconic Americana for inspiration.

What changes would you like to make to the collection and where do you see it going in the next few years?
If I had my wish, I would love to add some sportswear pieces into the line. The Fidelity outerwear collection will continue to be a recognized, international brand with a great history. The next few years look promising with more effort being put into marketing and distribution of the brand.

///
Many thanks to Christine Hychalk! Be sure to view our A/W’14 lookbook with her most recent designs.

Scandinavia | Q&A w/ Anders Mortensen

Motorcycle rider. Coffee aficionado. And distributor of Fidelity Sportswear in Europe. Anders Mortensen is the founder of Brand Unit and a man with many talents. We were so pleased he had a moment out of his busy day to catch us up on life, work and fashion in Copenhagen.

brand-unit-big-logo

Tell us a little about Brand Unit. How and when was the company formed?
I’ve always had a passion for clothing with roots in American tradition and work wear, so the company’s foundation is that I wanted to sell brands that are iconic and everlasting. It has taken a long time to build this brand portfolio we have today – and I’m proud of represent every single [one] of them.
Your motto is “Quality, Utility & Freedom.” What does that mean to you?
Quality is what we do and the brands we represent, while utility means that it’s very important for us, that the customers can use our products for several purposes.  For us freedom is the quality in classic, everlasting brands. Our products don’t depend on fashion, and we wanna give our customers the freedom to go out and enjoy, because there are more fun things to do, than worry about what’s hot right now.  It is our vision that the 3 words go hand in hand with everything we do and say, and this is the values we wanna sell to our retailers and what we like them to pass on in their customers.

 

Brand Unit launched a photo campaign last year for Fidelity Sportswear. Can you share with us more about the shoot?
We wanted to show our version of the brand. Our customers like American quality and we wanted to give them this in a European way.

 

BrandUnit_lookbook2

 

The model for the campaign is part of Wrenchmonkees. How did this come about?
We are worldwide distributors of the Wrenchmonkees collection WMAC, and we chose on of the founders as the model, because his attitude and look is how we see Fidelity from a European perspective.

 

BrandUnit_lookbook1

You have many side interests including motorcycles & coffee. What are some of your personal passions and business ventures?
I have a passion for coffee and started a coffee shop 7 years ago that I have with my girlfriend. I just started to ride a motorcycle and for me it’s the best way to relax.
What was your best selling Fidelity items this year? What was your favorite?
The Classic Pea Coat, CPO and the Deck Jacket are our favorites.

The Brand Unit headquarters are in Copenhagen, but the company covers a good part of Europe. What other areas do you represent?
In the beginning it was only Scandinavia but since it has developed into most of Europe. Markets have become small for the brands we want to sell, so we need to have larger areas to sell it in, in order to maintain a selective distribution.
Can you share with us a little about living in Denmark? What are some of your favorite things to do in Copenhagen?
Denmark is a small country with only five million people. We are surrounded by the sea, and we have very changing seasons with a cold and dark winter which is replaced by long and light summer days. In the summer I can’t think of a better place to stay than in Copenhagen.  Around midsummer the daylight is here until 11 o’clock in the evening, and everybody is out on the streets, boats are sailing in the harbor and after a long walk in the city you can find a nice restaurant where you can eat your food outside.

///

A million thank you’s to Anders of Brand Unit. For more information on Anders and his work, please visit his website.

Boys’Co | An Evolving Masterpiece

Q & A Sessions: Part I – With Mr. David Goldman, CEO by Zuzu Ramia

Catching a behind-the-scenes glimpse of a retail fashion brand can be tremendously rewarding, especially when it’s a globally recognized name. With this series of Q & A interview sessions we’ll be talking with the entrepreneurs behind the successful, family-owned and operated retail business of Boys’Co.

Let’s begin at the very top with the CEO, Mr. David Goldman. After being in the clothing business for 42 years, David has deservedly earned his respectful place amongst the industry’s royal elite. We caught up with the always-impeccably-dressed man to discuss the secret ingredients that make Boys’Co a prominent clothing landmark with men of style.

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERA

Q: Hi David. Thanks for chatting with us and congratulations on this, the 30 Year Anniversary of Boys’Co! To what do you attribute your overall success within the retail fashion industry?

A: Thank you. We work very hard to improve our business by staying up to date with related technologies; by maintaining a certain level of efficiency, by implementing compelling marketing campaigns and by improving our social media objectives. Retail fashion is my creative outlet. The stores, in my view, are the palates and the brands we carry are the colours we use to create the ‘artistic’ environment.  Add to that our decor, music and our many wonderful sales and management associates and you have an ever-changing fashion picture.

Q: I like that. What keeps you motivated and excited about creating this masterpiece of yours?

A: While at a recent tradeshow in Vegas, a competitor saw me running around as usual, and stopped me to ask: “David, Why? Why are you still doing this after all these years?
My simple response was “It’s still fun!
This is an industry full of young-thinking, inspirational, creative people. These facets keep me motivated and allow me to remain excited to come to work everyday!

Q: If you weren’t in fashion, what would you be doing?

A: If I wasn’t in fashion, I think I would have enjoyed a career in either music or advertising.

Q: How do you go about choosing the brands or styles you carry?

A: We’re very focussed on slowly growing our brand list, but more importantly on improving each season by building stronger relationships with our existing fashion houses. We usually consider brands we’ve heard of or seen around the world… or sometimes designers simply contact us. Having said that, we’re also proud of our ‘adjacencies’, that is to say how well the brands we’ve chosen hang with each other. We also say its important as to which brands we don’t carry, as it is the ones we do. As such, we turn down many brands each season who would love to share in our retail environment.

Q: So what’s hot for you on the scene these days?

A: I enjoy a variety of styles from around the world; I’m especially influenced by Japanese and American designers right now. We try to find well valued, quality brands with a unique point of view. We tend to choose styles that are non-overlapping esthetically with the others we have. We sometimes choose the “diffusion” line of the more well-known luxury brands. For example, Alexander McQueen is a luxury brand that also has ‘McQ’ as its diffusion brand; “Comme des Garcons” is the luxury brand, while “PLAY – by Comme des Garcons” is the diffusion line that we have.

Q: How do you see the fashion landscape changing in the near future?

A: Vancouver is becoming more of an international city, with many companies such as Prada, Dior, Saks Fifth Avenue and Nordstrom arriving here. To me, that means there’s a sense of competitiveness but more so, an opportunity to attain an increasing piece of the market by putting our best foot forward as Vancouver attracts a more global audience. We have to be on the ball with all aspects of our operations, while staying within the parameters of a locally owned-and-operated family business. We’ll compete with the large brands in every aspect we can. As Vancouver grows, Boys’Co wishes to grow with it in terms of global brands.

Q: How did you get into this business?

A: I started as a teenager at 15 working in my dad’s store. After college I moved to London to work in a fashion store called ‘Sydney Smith Ltd’ on Kings Road in Chelsea. When I returned, I told my dad I wanted to give this a try and started as a regular employee –  both learning and making mistakes along the way. Soon after I became a buyer, I started working in our then new jean shop, called Bus Stop For Jeans, which was a predecessor to my dad’s Ivy Room, which he started in the 1950’s, selling the ivy league looks of the day, like skinny Levi’s and oxford cloth sport shirts.

Q: And Boys’Co?

A: During the early 80’s we saw a huge revolution in menswear where designer names such as Giorgio Armani and Polo were mixing lifestyles with esthetics. We had signed a lease to open another Bus Stop store in the newly renovated Oakridge Mall and were set to name it “Boys’Co Bus Stop” as we had an updated component in it. The day after we opened, I realized how ‘not Bus Stop’ it was, and  I changed the name by dropping the “Bus Stop”, and the pure Boys’Co designer fashion store was launched with much of our fashion coming from Paris and London.

Q: And the rest is history…

A: The history really began when my father launched Murray Goldman Menswear back in 1946. It’s still one of the oldest ongoing accounts here in Vancouver, with the Bank of Nova Scotia, still our bank to this day. He made this business fun; no one was better at selling or marketing. He worked for the Bay right after he got married in 1944, and one day decided that he could do it better, and he did. We’ve had three generations working here together at one point; my father, my son Sam who’s been here for over 15 years, and me of course.

Q: Would you like to see his great grandchildren carrying on this family business?

A: Only if they felt this is the right business; And who knows if this is right for them? I would recommend to anyone that’s young, to stay in school until they find what their best direction may be, maybe even see what they may be passionate about! This industry is all about change; you need to have the desire to keep pace with those changes and try to stay ahead of the market to survive and more so, evolve.

Q: Who influences (or has influenced) you in the industry?

A: I am blessed with having the need to travel for our business. It has taken me to all corners of the world and does so often. In any major city I can walk a district, fall into any number of stores and get inspiration from any kind of brand I may or may not be familiar with. The same could be said of the many fashion magazines I regularly read or art galleries I visit. Every touch-point is an influence, whether we realize it or not. Part of my job is to visit other stores. I’m often overwhelmed and yet impressed by Selfridges in London for both their visual and customer experience. In fact, London may be the greatest place in the world to get the best overview of Men’s fashion. I learned a lot from the stores I visited in Japan recently. And New York has so many shops and areas full of great retailers, especially some super independents like us, anywhere from Soho to Brooklyn.  I also regard a great many of my competitors with a good deal of respect, some of whom are big chains right here in Canada, but I wouldn’t want to take on the critical mass required to operate them – and that’s as much a lifestyle decision as a business decision. After all, look where we live!  At one time, we had 14 locations under 5 different trade names which meant more people and more responsibilies –  and we even carried ladies wear as well. But we decided to “right-size” instead of “downsize” by sticking to menswear, and it was the right decision – and we’ve never looked back.

Q: Do you see yourself as a fashion or trend setter?

A: I strive to interpret the industry through my own eyes, which allows for a variety of influencers, and then we place our (Boys’Co) stamp or fingerprint on it and take advantage of the opportunities presented to us and adapt them accordingly. This takes us back to the brand adjacencies I spoke of earlier as just one example.

Q: What advice would you give a guy on how to dress?

A: It’s funny, because it doesn’t matter how much you pay for an item, it’s how well your “eye” can put an outfit together. We often get customers mixing and matching brands from different price points – its referred to as ‘high & low’ dressing. It’s all about how you make the clothes look together… of course you can (and should), always get the help of a sales associate – that’s what they’re trained to do, or pick up a fashion magazine and learn from the editorial content. We as retailers job is to educate the consumer, but they can educate themselves as well!  We’re all exposed to the media with famous celebrities and musicians that influence the public. Guys are influenced by seeing other guys looking cool. There are some men who simply don’t care, but many are becoming more interested and caring about fashion. Guys have to want and desire to look good. More and more, there are fewer rules in the industry allowing everyone to “play” with fashion.

Q: What’s hot for this summer?

A: I’d say casual chic. Dressing up a bit more. Sport jackets, chino casual pants. Colour; mixing colours and patterns together. Floral shirts. Things to have fun with!

Q: What do you think constitutes a fashion statement?

A: Attitude and confidence go a long way. The other day I saw Pharrell Williams in an interview about his “Happy” song, and he came out in his trademark huge, funky hat and he absolutely nailed it.

Q: That’s a great song; I love it.

A: We do too! Every time it comes on, my wife and I just start dancing.

Q: Cool; it’s an infectious song. Any final words for us David?

A: Just that this business is about creating relationships with people. Both our customers and our fashion brand suppliers. And that makes me happy… providing a fun and happy environment for people when they’re shopping or trying on clothes. That’s what we do at Boys’Co… create and maintain an excellent customer experience – and we receive lots of excellent feedback doing that.

There you have it gentlemen; a short peek inside the mind of an inspirational, successful Vancouver entrepreneur. Thanks to Mr. David Goldman for sharing his time and thoughts with us.

Stay tuned for upcoming interview sessions with other key influences within the Boys’Co family masterpiece.

///

Zuzu J. Ramia is a contributing blogger, marketer and business development manager with the IT design firm Satel Creative. He’s a passionate writer, photographer, percussionist, speaker and radical environmentalist, constantly striving towards conscious personal development.

ZUZU

Inside the Store | Seldom Seen

Seldom Seen is a new, online shop that launched this Fall from San Francisco’s Bay Area.  We were so happy to have the opportunity to catch up with co founders Natasha & Daniel for their first season open.  We wish them the very best of luck as the store continues to grow & evolve.
Co founders Natasha Wong & Daniel Lee

Co founders Natasha Wong & Daniel Lee

Congratulations on launching your new online shop! Tell us a little bit about your background and how Seldom Seen came to be.
Natasha and I both come from fashion backgrounds. She’s been in retail since high school and had a career in merchandising for almost 10 years at various companies, most recently lululemon. I was a partner with a menswear boutique located in San Francisco for several years. We had discussed her interest in starting her own business while she was living in Vancouver and working for lulu and after I left my last partnership, decided it would be a good time to do something together. We actually had no idea about concept initially. We just had a great repoire and a passion for product and experiences.  Over the course of about a year, we would meet sporadically either when she was back in town visiting or over skype and slowly developed our concept.
 
Describe the overall idea or concept for the store.
We went back and forth trying to figure out what our look was and we could never quite put our finger on it. There was always just a hazy idea of who we were and how we liked to dress but no concrete words to describe it. We came to the realization our look was a combination of both a clean street aesthetic and a modern take on preppy. We decided to call it Urban Prep. It was also a mix of East Coast sophistication and the laid back West Coast lifestyle. The only problem (and in our case opportunity) was that there was no one store we could reliably go to that catered to us. That’s how the idea of Seldom Seen was born.
seldomseen_vcp-0333
What sorts of things will we see in the shop this fall?  Any personal favorites?
For us, being from San Francisco where the weather varies so much from neighborhood to neighborhood , every season is about layering and you can see that influence in our store. We do feel that outerwear really helps to complete the Urban Prep look. Mixing and matching bombers with preppy stripes and nice button ups or peacoats with sneakers and hoodies is what we’re all about. If we’re talking about favorites, you can’t go wrong with the olive green bomber with camo lining from Fidelity Sportswear.
What are you future dreams and ambitions for Seldom Seen?
The future of Seldom Seen is wide open but we would love to open up a brick and mortar in SF in the not so distant future. Beyond that, we definitely have big dreams and aspirations. Just getting to where we are now felt almost impossible two years ago but we learned to take it one step at a time and will continue to keep that same mentality.
///
Thank you Natasha & Daniel for sharing the story behind Seldom Seen.  For more information, please visit their website.
seldomseen_vcp-0731

Inside the Factory | Woolrich Woolen Mills

Woolrich Woolen Mills has been supplying our distinctive plaid wool for over 30 years.  Nestled in the small town of Woolrich, PA, Woolrich is the longest continuously running textile mill in the U.S.A.  We are proud supporters of the American mill and we are thrilled to have a chance to share a little bit about their history and process.

 

Woolrich1Tell us about the mill’s origin.

The Woolrich name has been synonymous with quality outdoor clothing since 1830. The company got its start, when John Rich, an immigrant from England, built his first woolen mill in Plum Run, Pennsylvania. Rich would visit lumber camps that dotted the area and sell his woolen fabric, socks, coverlets, and yarn from a mule cart.

By 1845, he built a new mill a couple of miles up the road next to Chatham Run, which provided a steadier source of water. That building exists today as part of the group of buildings, homes, and community establishments that have become Woolrich, Pennsylvania.

Rich could certainly not have imagined that his little woolen mill (created not long after the Revolutionary War) would go on to experience the Civil War, the Great Depression, two world wars, and the end of the Cold War. It would witness the beginning of the Industrial Revolution in America, the amazing growth of American cities, and the telecommunications revolution.

Eventually, the introduction of new high-tech materials allowed Woolrich to enhance the performance of its outdoor apparel, meeting the needs of a new generation of outdoor enthusiasts. Traditional fabrics like wool and cotton teamed up with man-made fibers to create clothing that customers could rely on for everything from a backpacking trip to a leisurely stroll.

Woolrich2

 

Starting with John Rich in 1830, eight generations have maintained the mill in Woolrich, PA.  What family members are currently involved in the mill and how has this historic involvement shaped Woolrich?

There are many family members working across lots of divisions of the company today, from sales to product development to distribution to board of directors.  In recent years family has returned to the helm of the company with 7th generation, Nick Brayton as President and 8th generation Josh Rich as Executive Vice President working shoulder to shoulder to run the business day to day.

 

Share with us a little about the history of your legendary Buffalo Check.  When was the design developed and what was the inspiration?

Among the earliest finished products at Woolrich was the Buffalo Check Wool Shirt.  First produced in 1850, just 20 years after the company was founded, it became the must have for those braving the harsh Pennsylvania winters.  While the pattern was an old tartan plaid, the name buffalo plaid came from the designer at the time… it was as simple as he owned a herd of buffalo and thought it seemed like a great name for this rugged pattern, simple!  Today we still make that rugged wool version of the Buffalo shirt but we also use it in flannels, blankets, cottons and well just about anything you can think of. WE LOVE the buffalo check, especially in the original red and black version!

 

 Textile manufacturing is a dying breed in the United States.  How have you seen the industry shift throughout the decades and how has Woolrich remained so steady?

We are lucky that wool is one amazing textile that hasn’t changed all that much.  It is still on of the original performance fabrics – it’s a natural insulator, it keeps you warm even when wet, it’s breathable and has anti-odor properties…. That hasn’t changed.  What has changed is the way people think of wool and the way manufacturers use wool.  We now see it in everything from great bags by our partners at TOPO Design, in purses by Coach, in shoes by Timberland and Converse and so much more.

Woolrich has worked to stay relevant, finding ways to make wool softer, blending it with other fibers like nylon or cotton… finding ways to finish it differently with washing techniques and brushing techniques.   All of these things help us find ways to use it differently or make it more saleable to the end consumer.  Yet we still have a large following of customers who want the ORIGINAL – the wool is used by Civil War re-enactors and crafters as well as those in the home industry.

 

Christopher Payne released a beautiful photo essay on American textile mills earlier this year. We were very pleased to see Woolrich was among the mills featured.  Tell us a little more about the project and your involvement.

That’s an easy one.. Chris approached us about his desire to visit the original woolen mill and of course we were more than honored to open our doors to give Chris all access to our mill.  We hope to be hosting Chris again soon to give him more opportunity to capture his beautiful imagery that tells our story in an inspiring way.

 

///

A million thank yous to Woolrich and their team in Pennsylvania.  Continue reading below to learn how wool is made.  For more information, please visit their webpage.

 

Woolrich3Woolrich4Woolrich5 Woolrich6 Woolrich7 Woolrich8Woolrich9 Woolrich10 Woolrich11 Woolrich12Woolrich13Woolrich14

 

 

Inside the Store | Hatchet Supply Brooklyn

This is Fidelity Sportswear’s first year to be working with Brooklyn’s beautifully curated store, Hatchet Supply, the one stop shop for outdoor gear & wear in Williamsburg. Located right on the edge of Brooklyn Bridge Park, Hatchet opened just last year and has been working hard to keep dreams of wilderness & boys scouts alive.  Owner, Gene Han, was gracious enough to take a moment out of his day and catch us up on his life and work in Brooklyn.

Tell us a bit about your store. How long has it been around?
The idea for the shop came about because I’m very particular about the outdoor gear that I buy and always have the need to try them out first hand.  Brooklyn, at the time, did not have any outlets for outdoor gear or outdoor wear, you always had to travel to Manhattan.  We opened our doors in March of 2013 to cater to customers like myself but with a look and feel that is very “Brooklyn” – highly curated and elevated.

Hatchet Supply | 77 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Hatchet Supply | 77 Atlantic Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11201

Hatchet Supply | 77 Atlantic Ave. Brooklyn, NY 11201

Hatchet Supply | Outdoor Gear

 

Hatchet is located along the beautiful stretch of Brooklyn Bridge Park. What is your neighborhood like?
Hatchet Supply is located in Brooklyn Heights, which is a very historic area of Brooklyn.  Think tree-lined cobble stone streets with historic (and often landmarked) brown stone buildings sprinkled with cute cafes, high quality boutiques and curated specialty shops.  Smorgasburg takes place right on the waterfront at the newly created Brooklyn Bridge Park and ferries to Governors Island depart hourly only a few blocks away from the shop.

Apart from men’s clothing you carry tents, sleeping bags, travel thermoses & backpacks.  Tell us about your love for the outdoors and how it all comes together in your store.
My love of the outdoors developed as a Boy Scout going out on our monthly camping outings.  I also made Eagle Rank.  Back then, our only choice of outdoor gear was our local Scout shop and whatever our parents decided to buy from Modell’s.  Hatchet Supply represents the gear and equipment that we aspired to attain back then as young Scouts.  We do carry all equipment that may be needed for a weekend outing and then some!  Instead of carrying a huge variety of gear choices, we only stock what we feel is the best of the best.

Hatchet Supply | AW14 Lookbook

Hatchet Supply | AW14 Lookbook

Where are some of your favorite weekend get-away spots around the city?
We usually go to Harriman State Park during the season as you can easily rent a lean-to or a camping spot there.  It’s only about an hour and half upstate.  I’d also recommend Stoke Forest in NJ.

This is your first year to carry the Gerald & Stewart collection by Fidelity. What items will you have in stock?
We’re excited to be getting in the Twill Lined Wool Peacoat, The Military Baseball Jacket and The Stadium Coat from Fidelity this Fall ’14.

If you could take a visit to anyplace in the world, what would you like to see?
A Safari in South Africa or Botswana or Patagonia in Argentina or Chile.  I’ve been wanting to visit Crete after reading The Golden Step by Christopher Somerville and I got my chance this past September!

 

A million thank yous to Gene Han & Hatchet Supply!  Please be sure to visit their website and visit them in Brooklyn for all your camping gear.

Hatchet Supply | AW14 Lookbook

Hatchet Supply | AW14 Lookbook

Hatchet Supply | AW14 Lookbook

Hatchet Supply | AW14 Lookbook

 

Inside the Store | Centre Commercial

QUI SOMMES NOUS VITRINE

 

Centrel Commercial is a boutique like no other.  Located in Paris’s 10e arrondissement, owner / operator Sébastien Kopp has designed a dream space that delicately merges fashion with a devout sense of social commitment.  We were thrilled to have to opportunity to catch up with Sébastien and share an inside peak into his life & work.

Tell us a little about Centre Commercial. Your shop is so lovely. Was it a challenge to find the right space in the city?
I searched for a space for 2 years. We did almost a year of renovation and had all the problems of the world before starting, but I knew this place, this spot, had something since the beginning. It was quite easy to find, because I wanted one & only one street. I spent a long time banging at all the doors of the street to know if a store was free.  The “rue” de Marseille, for me, was one of the most charming street of Paris: quite, small and facing the canal with no end & with open skies. I’m in love with the ultra white building at the starting corner of the street & facing our store.

The shop space carries more than just clothing. Bicycles. Furniture. Art. Can you tell us a bit about the concept?
We wanted to gather projects more than brands lead by individuals that are making their own path. The clothing selection mixes high aesthetics with [an interest in] the way clothes or shoes are made. We only select brands that “care,” brands that look how the production is made. We call that involved brands that are “taking back” production. The last 50 years brands have tried to hide production, how the things are made, to put advertising in front & create virtual stories. We are the generation that is taking back the place that production deserves : the heart.  We believe our generation (30’s) are fed up with fast fashion, fed up with an economy that destroys & exploits more than it creates. With Veja & Centre Commercial we want to build something else.

QUI SOMMES NOUS CC
How were you first introduced to Fidelity Sportswear? What qualities caught your attention?
We are addicted to military clothing since childhood. We love the “use over look”, the fact that clothing may have a function before just looking good. And the fact that the brand [Fidelity] takes back to life old & forgotten pieces and the fact that it is made in the USA in their own factory.

What has been your best selling Fidelity garment? What is your personal favorite from the AW14 collection?
The coats, the coats, the coats ! I think everybody in the Centre Commercial team has one !

Tell us more about the shop’s involvement with art, architecture & philosophy. How do you see the shop’s interests expanding in the future?
We try to put our thoughts & [personal] philosophy in what we do.  This is the principle of creation itself, put a bit of yourself in what you do. Looking back at our close past, we put everything of ourselves in what we do.

Describe the neighborhood around your shop. Do you have a favorite café and pattiserie?
I love the Café de La Marine.  It’s the best place to have a drink at night in front of the Canal Saint Marin.  There is also Ten Bells, a coffee shop with amazing baristas and the pizzeria of the Marie Lousie place is delicious.

What are some of your favorite things to do in Paris? Best places to eat? Best museums to visit?
I love the Pause Café on rue de Charonne, where I met love a few years ago.  Love the hidden spots.  Love to have a coffee on the bench of the store with friends.

Merci beaucoup à Sébastien et tous.  If you don’t have the chance to visit their shop this autumn, be sure to check out the website here!

QUI SOMMES NOUS WEAR

Paris | Q&A w/ Franck Gunther

We recently had a moment to catch up with our dear friend, Franck Gunther, owner of Five0Five showroom in Paris and distributor of Fidelity Sportswear in France. Franck has been busy all year setting up his new space in the heart of the Marais.  We are thrilled to have a chance to share images of his gorgeous showroom and glimpse into his glamorous life in the Marais.

Can you share with us a little about your background? How did Five0Five come about?
I’ve been involved in this industry since I was 15 years old ;-) I started as a sales person and went on to open my first store in the south of France, a second hand American vintage shop called Route 66. Then I was chased by LEVIS and spent 8 years as their agent and sales manager of premium lines. Naturally, when I opened my own agency, my philosophy was based on authentic products with roots and history but at the same time a vision of modernity .

We heard you just opened a new showroom in the Marais. Can you tell us about it? We’d love to see some images.
Yes it was time to move! Our previous showroom will be dedicated to our press agency, Five0Five Communication. We found a slightly different space with a courtyard and an old atelier. The new space is bigger and more flexible in term of merchandising, but we will keep our same way of working and philosophy. Our focus is on products. No POs. Just excellence in merchandising. The new showroom is still located in le Marais, the place where all buyers are during fashion week. We will be pleased to welcome and share spaces with special guests like Levis XX next season.

Franck_showroom1

 

I know you were very busy preparing the new space. How much input did you have on the renovations and decor?
I spent a lot of time on our showroom and I’m mad about merchandising. First sights and impressions mean a lot to me. Retailers are surrounded of brands and their time is precious. They need to have a clear perception of the brand they are looking for. That’s why our goal is to present the products in the best way to make their work easier. I don’t want to disturb their attention with POs, branded hangers or any signage. Clean and simple. It’s all that in a beautiful space. I have been working with the same renovations team for years and they understand perfectly our needs as a showroom. We find great solutions all together. Decor, furniture, lighting are ultimately my vision ;-)

 

Franck_showroom5
What were your best selling Fidelity Sportswear items this year? What was your personal favorite?

We sell the Peacoat very well, as that’s the Fidelity DNA. It’s as a “classic” — the ultimate iconic piece of Fidelity. My favorite from 2014 was the Baseball Jacket. It is a perfect mix between modernity and heritage!

Tell us a little about living in Paris? Did you grow up there? Share some of your favorite things to do in the city.
I was born in the south of France in the small city of Nîmes. I’ve been living in Paris now for 15 years after spending some time in Belgium . Paris is an exciting and challenging city with lots of energy and inspirational for fashion. Working in the heart of the city is a great chance, and we are appreciate it every day.

Who would you consider your style icon and why?
Master of cool was Steve McQueen. If we consider that elegance is an attitude, so is the perfect guy.

 

Steve McQueen

Steve McQueen

 

Where is your favorite place to eat in the city? And your favorite bakery?
There are lots of really good restaurants in Paris ! I used to have my own lunch spot for years near my office called, Le Petit Marché on Rue de Bearn. They make really good, simple food with a lot of attention to quality and simplicity. Then you also have the best Sardinian restaurant ever called Sardengna a Tavola on rue de Cotte. For a great time, try Guilo Guilo, too!  It’s a fantastic Japanese restaurant owned by a Rock and Roll master chief!

There are so many beautiful places to see in Paris. Where would you recommend visiting?
Just up your eyes and see all the beautiful buildings ,-) One of our favorite places is the Jardin des Plantes. It’s close to our house and near the oldest zoo in Europe. It’s perfect for a sunny Sunday with the kids !

Where are your go-to shopping spots in Paris?
I personally live between two interesting shopping areas: le Marais and Bastille. I appreciate Merci, which is a good mix between fashion and design. It’s always in movement.  In these areas, you have retailers who are still carrying alternative brands in a city surrounded by retail : Royal Cheese and Shine are good examples. The Bastille shopping area is rising again. On Rue de Charonne, you can find Sessun, Isabel Marant, French Trotters and our own shop Edwin! The best one ,-)

Merci beaucoup à Franck Gunther of Five0Five!! For more info on his work and showroom, please visit his website.

Q&A w/ Save Khaki

David Mullens of Save Khaki United (or S.K.U.) was one of the first in the United States to reach out to Fidelity Sportswear after noticing the work Gerald & Stewart had been doing in Japan.  We were happy to have the chance to speak with him, despite his busy schedule, about S.K.U., his goals and dreams.

 

Baseball Jacket by Fidelity Sportswear for S.K.U.

Baseball Jacket by Fidelity Sportswear for S.K.U.

 

Describe the philosophy of S.K.U. What key concepts define your brand?
Simple american sportswear with a modern twist. Emphasis on comfort with a contemporary fit.  Honest and hardworking everyday essentials.

Tell us more about your mission to be entirely American made. What sorts of manufacturing resources have you found in North America?
It was a gut feeling to bring all of our production to the USA. A strong intuition, giving us more control of the quality and timing. I love the process, starting with a pen and paper sketch, fittings, approvals and then producing garments. Being in the factories and laundries is a must to achieve the best result. In Los Angeles we manufacture garment dyed products. Tees, chinos, durable shirtings, etc. In the North East we work more on “full package” projects. We find a manufacturer like Fidelity and attempt to do a “seamless” project with respect to their capabilities and core competencies. For instance, we take a P- Coat they have always made and revise with our fit, trims and details. We work in a similar way for sweaters in Fall River, Ma.  Accessories and footwear are approached with the same scope.

 

Made in USA.

Made in USA.

 

You were one of the first stores to pick up Fidelity Sportswear in the United States. How did you hear about Fidelity?
I was flipping through a Japanese magazine and came across a Fidelity CPO shirt that caught my eye. Immediately, I reached out to Fidelity and spoke with Gerry. A few days later, I was on the Acela train to Everett to start sampling wool outerwear. Prior to Fidelity, we had sampled wool outerwear in NYC without satisfaction. The cutters, sewing operators at Fidelity have years of experience working almost exclusively with wool. It is a unique trade skill.

Share more about your interest in classic American sportswear.
My take on it: Similar to america itself – a melting pot of unique peoples, but somehow it all comes together.  American style draws inspiration from workwear, collegiate, athletics, nautical and military.

What key pieces should we look for in the store this fall?
The wool varsity jacket is a done in a grown up way. Chunky boatneck rag sweaters, layering henleys are a great compliment to our chinos. Slim fitting fleece and sweats are becoming a key part of the assortment.

///

A big thank you to David!  Please visit Save Kahki’s website here.

 

Wool Baseball Jacket by Fidelity Sportswear for S.K.U.

Wool Baseball Jacket by Fidelity Sportswear for S.K.U.

Fidelity Sportswear in Japan

Fidelity Sportswear’s relationship with Japan began more than 30 years ago.  What started as a small collaboration between Gerald & Stewart Webber, owners/operators of Fidelity Sportswear, and an few inspired individuals in Japan has turned into a renowned line of outerwear now sold across the world.  We had a moment to catch up with Gerry & Stu to hear the history of the brand first hand and learn more about how the American outerwear company has developed through their international collaborations.

Tell us about the relationship between Fidelity Sportswear and Japan.
Gerry: I went to Japan to some trade mission and we had started to develop the Fidelity name in Japan.  There were trade missions sponsored by the US government and I went to either one or two [shows] promoting trade in Japan.  And I would say it was early 80s.
Stu: It was just as we were shifting into this building [on Bow Street].

When did you first begin adapting the traditional, military fit Fidelity pea coat?
S: I think with Taikyo Senjo, I’m thinking of the monogrammed label…
G: Yep.
S: That was a lot of pea coats, but it was tapered down to their fits.  And I think that goes back to ’85 ’86.  The fashion fit really came in with Imex [Fidelity’s current distributor’s in Japan].
G: Which really was probably around the early 2000’s.

 

Fidelity Sportswear for Beams

Fidelity Sportswear for Beams

 

What was the reception of the altered styles?
G: It really built very quickly from that first year.  I’m always amazed at how many stores we’re selling in Japan.

Fidelity does a lot of co-branding in Japan.  Can you tell us more about this?
G: The Japanese are very fastidious in their approach to marketing and its not often that we will come up with a style that they will just take.  They have to put their own particular twist into it and it’s usually for the better.  They have a great sense of style and fashion and that comes into the co branding.  They want to have it with their name because people identify with Beams, Journal Standard, United Arrows, or Seilin.  It’s just part of the culture.

 

Various co branding ventures.

Various co branding ventures.

 

Is Fidelity Sportswear in North America & Europe the same as Fidelity Sportswear in Japan?

S: Certainly we have a different pattern design.  I’ll speak from that side of it.  From the first day in Europe, we got the education that they want to look very much like the Japanese styling, but the reality is the body styles require us to shape that garment to fit the European fashion fit, which is different.  So right from there, it is different.  It also goes towards a different design process.  There is influence from what we see in Japan and what we do in Japan, but it takes on our own interpretations.

There are an overwhelming number of garment styles going to Japan this season.  How is such a small company able to produce such a variety of garments?
G: Not every company can deal with the precise nature of what is required to sell in Japan.  I think we have built in certain fail safes models.  We occasionally miss the mark, we admit that.  But we’re always trying to improve upon making sure we get the product exactly the way they want it, to their specifications.  That just bleeds right over into what we sell in Europe and the United States.  I always said, if we can sell successfully in Japan, we can sell anywhere in the world.

 

Fidelity Sportswear Baseball Jacket // Japan exclusive

Fidelity Sportswear Baseball Jacket // Japan exclusive

 

Japan is very serious about quality — you’ve mentioned that they even run garments through x-ray machines to check for broken sewing needles, etc.  Tell us more about the rigorous garment checks.
G: Yes, they are rigorous in their attention to detail.  It’s almost like a fine tailored garment in Italy has the same type of demands in it that an outerwear piece would have going into Japan.   They want the product to be right.  We all want the product to be right, but they seem to kick up the level a little bit more in terms of preciseness, in terms of stitches per inch, in terms of whelps, in terms of flaps in terms of pocketing, in terms of buttons in terms of binding.  All subtle little things that make their garments great.
S: The other thing they do that kicks up the notch in terms on quality is their willing to pay for an independent company to inspect every garment that they buy.  So, where a lot of people will certainly run a garment through specifications, check it out and make sure its right, but its usually a small sampling of the total.  Japan will take the step to check every garment.
G: And they’ve also recognized something that we have known in the United States, but a lot of companies don’t pay attention to.  The quality of the product had to stand on its own, but the parts that go into it, the treads, the lining, the shells, the buttons, the interlinings, the labels all have to be right. They’re all tested.  Japan started us in that direction and we test everything that we send.   That just again, comes right over to everything that we make in the United States.
S: The Japanese seem to be looking for the quality of craftsmanship and to that they’ve added a level of technical expertise.

///

For more information on Fidelity Sportswear in Japan, please be sure to contact our Japanese distributor here!

The Making of a Pea Coat

Jacob "Daddy" Pepin | Fidelity's Sample Maker for 35+ years.

Jacob “Daddy” Pepin | Fidelity’s Sample Maker for 35+ years.

 

Jacob Pepin, fondly known as “Daddy” around the factory, has been making samples and small batches of coats for Fidelity Sportswear in his studio above the offices for over 35 years.  He has truly mastered his craft and we were thrilled when he agreed to let us shadow him for a day and a half in his workspace to see exactly what goes into the making of each Fidelity garment.  In this instance, Jacob is constructing four women’s pea coats in maroon for one of our favorite stores, Art in the Age.

 

ROLL

Jacob begins by rolling out a bolt of 24 oz Wool Melton fabric on his work table.  On top of this, he places a large sheet of white paper with the pattern work, a detailed drawing that outlines exactly what shape each piece of the coat should be.

 

FabricRoll

 

CUT

Once the fabric and pattern work is laid out, Jacob begins to cut out each piece.  Depending on the design, a single garment can have up to 40 pieces.  Thankfully, Jacob only has about 30 pieces to cut for this one.

 

Cutting3

 

SEW

With the final design in sight, Jacob begins sewing each of the pieces together.  He starts with the pockets because they are the most time consuming.

 

SewingPocket

 

Then he moves on to the large pieces and works his way down to the collar and sleeve tabs.

 

Pea Coat collar in progress.

Pea Coat collar in progress.

Shells

 

 

Once he has the wool shells assembled, he moves on to the lining.

 

Lining

 

Once the lining is done, he begins to sew (inside out) the lining to the shell.

 

As side glimpse for the shell, lining and wool fusible all being sewn together.

 

FLIP

When the lining is finally sewn into the shell, Jacob flips the garment so it is right side out again.

 

Flip

It’s tough work flipping the sleeves…

 

FINISH

Jacob finishes the garment off and sends it to the button machine.

 

Button Machine

Lewis Button Machine. See how it works here!

 

PRESS

Finally, each garment is pressed to perfection.

 

DSC_3349

 

There you go!  The making of a Fidelity garment!

 

Many thanks to Art in the Age for their aw14 order.  You can purchase these very coats in their store this fall/winter.  Please visit their website for more info!

Q&A in the UK

We were so pleased to have the chance to catch up with our friend/distributor of Fidelity Sportswear in the United Kingdom, Pablo Holland of Egomark, to speak with him about all that he’s been up to this year.  He’s created quite a buzz in the UK with his recent collaboration with photographer Brian Doherty and stylist Way Perry.  Below he shares images from the recent Fidelity photo shoot along with a peak into his personal life and interests in London.

 

Barn Coat by Fidelity Sportswear | Photographer Brian Doherty | Stylist Way Perry

Barn Coat by Fidelity Sportswear | Photographer Brian Doherty | Stylist Way Perry

 

Tell us a little about Egomark and your showroom in London.
Egomark/London  is a multi-branded mens and womenswear showroom based in Shoreditch, London. The business was founded in 2001.  The menswear showroom was previously an art gallery so it’s a fantastic space in which to show the various collections we represent.
 
How long have you been working with Fidelity Sportswear?
We have been working with the brand for approximately 3 years now.   Along with the amazing product range, what attracted us to the label initially was the history and the story behind the brand. It’s a great story to be able to pass onto store buyers and consumers alike.

You recently had the opportunity to orchestrate a photoshoot of Fidelity’s A/W’14 collection with photographer Brian Doherty & stylist Way Perry.  Tell us a little about the shoot.
The photoshoot was a collaboration between ourselves [Egomark] and Agency 11, a London based PR company who we work very closely with on a number of projects.  It was the team at Agency 11 that somehow managed to persuade Brian and Way to work on the project with us.  We basically wanted to put the both of them together with the brand [Fidelity] and see what the outcome would be.  We knew they would produce something special, which is exactly what they did.

 

Stadium Coat by Fidelity Sportswear | Photographer Brian Doherty | Stylist Way Perry

Stadium Coat by Fidelity Sportswear | Photographer Brian Doherty | Stylist Way Perry

 

What was your favorite shot from the photoshoot?
My personal favourite is the second image, which is the photograph of the maroon wool blazer .

 

Wool Blazer by Fidelity Sportswear | Photographer Bryan Doherty | Stylist Way Perry

Wool Blazer by Fidelity Sportswear | Photographer Brian Doherty | Stylist Way Perry

 

Name three staple items in your wardrobe.
Omnigod denim jeans, Gant Rugger selvedge madras BD shirt and Shoes Like Pottery plimsoles.

What was the best selling Fidelity garment this year in the UK?  Your personal favorite?
Our best selling item was the USN Navy Peacoat. My personal favourite item from FW14 was the USN N1 Wax Cotton Deck jacket in navy.

 

Wool Blazer by Fidelity Sportswear | Photographer Brian Doherty | Stylist Way Perry

Wax Cotton Deck Jacket by Fidelity Sportswear | Photographer Brian Doherty | Stylist Way Perry

 

What are the best parts about living in London?  Where is the best shopping?
Everything is available to you in London: art galleries, museums, restaurants, etc.    Shoreditch is now a great place to shop in London.  We have clothing  stores such as PresentLabour and Wait and a great vintage market on Thusdays at Spittalfield Market.

///

Thanks a million to our dear friend Pablo Holland from London.  If you are interested in carrying Fidelity Sportswear in the UK or just want to learn more about the collection, please visit Egomark’s website here.  Also, be sure to visit our stocklist page to see all the stores carrying Fidelity in the UK this year.