When rag & bone opened the doors to its first dedicated men’s shop in September 2016 it was more of a homecoming than a foray into uncharted territory. The New York-born label was founded by Nathan Bogle and Marcus Wainwright in 2002, and officially launched two years later, in 2004, as a men’s denim brand. At the time, it was a direction Bogle and Wainwright imagined would eventually define the brand.
In 2005, a year before Bogle left the company and David Neville joined, the duo also launched a women’s line. The timing couldn’t have been more perfect. The rise of the direct-to-consumer model coupled with the success of a wholesale approach to retail created an atmosphere in which a young, hungry fashion label with a strong point of view could potentially enjoy massive success. And rag & bone was exactly that – inspired by Wainwright’s British heritage and informed by a modern urbane aesthetic, the meeting of traditional refinement and contemporary edge was a resounding success, with women in particular.
Within three years of introducing a women’s line the company was doing around $10 million in wholesale for women’s alone; it was a vast increase from the $1 million Wainwright and Neville hoped to reach in the first year. In 2008, Neville also revealed to WWD that the women’s business was already four times larger than the men’s side. That year, in response to the growing demand, rag & bone introduced pre-fall and resort collections exclusively to women’s.
Last year, with business still firmly on the up-swing, the founders circled back to where things started and opened a location strictly for the guys. At 2,300-square-feet, the Tribeca location is half shopping destination, half idealized man cave meant to draw patrons in and keep them in comfort for an hour or an afternoon. Aged wood, leather and a bar stocked with fine whiskey and scotch seem calculated for an aura of refinement but streaming Apple TV and a perennially available gaming system add an element of lightheartedness and youth. The life-sized storm trooper standing at permanent attention at the store’s front helps with that as well.
As do the graffiti and street art-bedecked fitting rooms, state-of-the-art custom sound system, and sprawling record collection handpicked by friend of the brand, Kris Bones. rag & bone’s controversial Fall/Winter 2015 campaign commercial also makes a reappearance: the 1979 Porsche 911 SC whose death by cement slab sent vintage car enthusiasts into a tailspin is now the flagship art piece. As the space designer intended, it all combines to create a wonderful kind of diversion that makes shopping pleasant for those who generally hate the practice, while boosting the experience for those who love it. Above all, it’s rag & bone’s recommitment to the male-focused ethos that launched the brand.
See this month’s top designers to watch in our newest Under the Radar column.
Thomas Welch / Highsnobiety.com