From the outside looking in, the entire menswear arena can sometimes resemble one monolithic melange of brands competing for the attention of an overly distracted consumer. However when you look a little deeper, you find well-segmented categories with labels expertly catering to their specifically chosen clientele. One such brand is NYC-based, Craft Atlantic. It caters to an increasingly growing number of sophisticated, international denizens we like to call the "global nomads". Craft Atlantic specializes in designing exquisitely tailored clothing that focuses heavily on luxury, form and functionality. It's a unique mix, but under the astute guidance of Creative Director Luis Fernandez (pic below), they are making quite a name for themselves. SNC reached out to Luis with a few questions and you can see the interview and shots from their F/W 15 collection below.
How did you come up with the name Craft Atlantic and what does the name represent?
Craft Atlantic tells a story of modern travel. It’s designed for the modern nomad, the guy always on the go, who needs a wardrobe which transitions seamlessly from business to leisure, always appearing perfectly tailored.
The idea came from the need to create or find clothing where luxe-meets-function. We felt there was a space for clothing that addresses both form and functionality, which is incredibly important now, especially when you are always on the move.
With the store we just opened in October in the West Village in NYC, the travel inspiration also really manifests itself in the design of the store, conceived as our version of what the perfect airport lounge could be, using mostly grey and blue hues. You can find an apothecary, newsstand, art, lounge areas; all of which come together to make the store a comfortable – but efficient – retail experience.
Your brand makes high-end travel wear for men. What exactly does that entail?
We place special attention on the fabrics and functionality of each item, creating a look that is comfortable, but still feels polished and tailored. I call this ‘embedded functionality’... It isn't immediately obvious that these clothes have ‘performance’ values because the overall look is much more put-together. This is essential for clothes for our guy who appreciates style and quality, but needs pieces that work perfectly from the meeting room to boarding gate…. and even the occasional ‘intentional’ layover.
The clothes are really suited for this kind of double-duty: light and versatile, with layered shades of blues, navy and greys, (and the occasional pops of color or print).
The natural and high-tech yarns we use are all mostly developed in Italy, and have a super luxurious feel.
What would you say are the main foundation styles and silhouettes of each collection?
With every collection, I approach the merchandising part of designing the collection with the idea of the ‘perfect’ travel bag for a 3-day-trip. Finding those items that can get you through everything and anything ... and still keeping it light without having to pack your entire closet. It’s a great mental exercise to go through every season (let alone, before any trip). It makes you think: I’ll need something that calls for a more dressed-up occasion, something all the way dressed-down to make a visit to the hotel gym in the morning... and everything in between; such as unexpected weather and climates. So versatility, functionality are key!
One of my favorite items each season is the reversible ‘Voyage’ vest; lightweight in spring, and warmer for fall. For this winter, it’s crafted from a technical mini-corduroy on one side and waterproof performance nylon on the other.
It really shows the consideration of functionality in the collection… there are a multitude of oversize and hidden pockets, we used waterproof zippers… and of course the dual purposes of being reversible, so you get two looks with two different functions in one.
The ‘Airstream’ jogger pant is also an awesome piece. Constructed as a dress trouser, but with a relaxed feel and a cuffed hem. It is completely luxurious and comfortable, done up in soft Italian flat-quilted poly/cotton knit.
Are you partial to any particular color palette when it comes to creating each new collection?
From looking at the collection and stepping into our store... You would be hard pressed to figure out that my favorite color is BLUE. It’s become a bit of an industry pun that I am known as Mr. Blue. So, it was very fitting that this would be the core and anchor color of every Craft Atlantic collection.
More importantly, the choice of blue comes from many functional and inspirational considerations. Navys and blues are quite a statement in wardrobing: not quite as severe as black, but it certainly makes a power statement. It’s ideal for the travel wardrobe, it is the most flexible and versatile color with endless shades to play around with and layer into one look: indigo, midnight blue, navy.
Plus, from an inspirational perspective, there is always something so moving and powerful about looking out of your plane window, and seeing the constantly changing hues of blues between the sky and the ocean. It’s a space you want to live in.
How long have you had your Manhattan store and are you planning on opening more brick and mortar locations?
Our Manhattan store opened in late October, and we also have a strong e-commerce business. Our next step is to expand our distribution with key domestic and international retailers starting with the FW15 collection. In the next 3 years, we are discussing opening a couple of additional brick-and-mortar stores.
If you could pick a handful of celebs (past or present) to represent what Craft Atlantic is all about, who would they be?
I’m so glad you also opened that up to ‘past’. There was something so impeccable about the guys in the jet-set era of the late 50’s and early 60’s that is always a source of inspiration for me. Marlon Brando, Alain Deleon, and Paul Newman are amongst my all-time favorites.
Of the contemporary guys, it is so nice to see a new awareness and excitement around dressing up, and dressing WELL! Ryan Gosling, Bradley Cooper and Matt Bomer always look incredibly sharp, either dressed up or dressed down. Lapo Elkann, Victor Cruz and Casey Neistat are a couple others with great personal style.
I’m always fascinated by paparazzi images of these guys photographed at an airport, when they’re ‘on the go’… there is this kind of effortless sophistication in the way they dress that is inspiring. And that’s at the core of Craft Atlantic.
What comes first when you are designing a garment - design or function?
For me, good ‘design’ is really the art of solving a problem or a challenge in an aesthetically compelling and beautiful way. The ideals of Modernism at its best.
So really, DESIGN is a function of FUNCTION. No pun intended.
To explain that a little bit better, without a need or a challenge, we would just be purely making pretty things. But that’s not enough.
When it comes to design, and Craft Atlantic, we are trying to address the way in which the modern man lives today, and what he needs his clothes to do for him, to enhance his life. Time has become one of the greatest of luxuries. So our man needs to be more efficient, lighter, faster; in addition to powerful. If his clothes could help him achieve any of those, while still looking sharp and tailored ... Then, that is what DESIGN should be all about. That is what we strive for with Craft Atlantic.
Do you offer accessories too with your apparel offerings?
Right now, the Craft Atlantic brand is focused on men’s contemporary sportswear, but a range of accessories is clearly a great brand extension for us, and something that we are already considering for the near future.
In the meantime, our concept store offers a curated range of accessories, from Zespa and No.288 sneakers, TID watches, Haerfest bags, Italia Independent sunglasses… etc. A selection is available on our e-commerce site as well.
Being that your brand focuses on the traveling man, what is the most memorable exotic vacation you've had recently?
You know, I think I may actually have to go with Hawaii. I had never been until recently, I had always dismissed it as a touristy honeymoon spot, but it made quite an impression on me. We live in a time when no matter where you go, you are never truly disconnected; and so a “vacation” has a whole other meaning. Kauai, somehow, really did feel like a whole other world, disconnected from everything; even if there was the daily reminder of regular life, courtesy of mobile devices and work emails.
Coming from THE city, the incredibly dramatic landscape of Kauai is awe-inspiring. The jagged and angular facets of the cliffs that dive into the ocean are almost like nature’s own version of modern architecture. Standing over the Waimea Canyon, you can’t help but being humbled at how small we are in comparison to this vast universe we live in. It helps to put the world around us in perspective; and yet at the same time lose yourself in that one moment, and forget everything… a powerful (and memorable) experience.
Lastly what are the future plans you embody for Craft Atlantic in the next 5 years?
We have had a great response to both the collection and store, since we launched the brand last year, and so it’s a nice momentum to be caught up in.
We are really focused on developing and expanding the product offering, and continuing to build the brand and it’s reach.
In July of this year, it is incredibly exciting to be participating in the first Men’s New York Fashion Week, which is such a milestone for menswear and especially, American Designers. I mentioned it briefly before, but we are also starting to expand our wholesale distribution through domestic and international retailers, so there is a greater presence in markets outside of New York.
To learn more about the brand, visit their site here
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