There's more to menswear than suits and ties. Every other Monday, we're giving the fastest developing facet of fashion the attention it deserves and introducing the designers, buyers, trendsetters, and stylists you need to know.
Daniel DuGoff's new menswear label, DDUGOFF, is performing a tricky balancing act. Not too sporty, not too formal. Not plain, but definitely not too loud. Basic, but not, as the saying goes, basic. It's a tough set of criteria to satisfy, but rather than stake out a safe, often boring space between all those buzzwords, DuGoff is exploring their contradictions. A knit cotton t-shirt feels synthetic but breathes like organic fiber, the nylon on a windbreaker comes so light that it feels like tissue paper, and a polyester parka is treated to feel like hardy twill cotton. "People our age," he says, "if they're gonna spend this kind of money on something, want something that feels special." And his clothes literally do. "But," he adds, "you also want something that you can wear like three days a week without your friends calling you out on always wearing that one ridiculous thing."
Less than a year old, DuGoff's brand is a one-man operation run out of a basement studio in NoHo. But he's got work experience at Patrik Ervell, Derek Lam, and Marc by Marc Jacobs—plus, he says, plenty of friends from those places to help him out if he ever gets stuck. "I realized," he tells us on a visit to his showroom, "that I sort of had this unique placement. I saw how a small office was run and I saw how a big corporation was run, and I was still young enough that I could risk this." It's a tension, between the uniform and the unique, that you can see in his designs, and it's one that's worth watching play out. Today, we're excited to publish exclusive images from DDUGOFF's Spring 2015 lookbook.
DESIGNER: Daniel DuGoff
BASED IN: New York
TRADEMARKS: What I'm trying to find is the central pieces that we all wear all the time and how to make that just a little bit more special. To make the basic pair of pants that you can wear doing whatever, but what's the fabric that makes it feel a little different? What's the way that you put your hand in the pocket that feels great? Or what's a nice detail on the inside of a pocket? Those things are exciting.
BUILDING BLOCKS: I liked architecture school because it was a system where they give you a project and then you can use whatever materials and means of representation necessary to make that project, versus how I saw art school, which was more like, "Here's a material, and do whatever you want with painting, or with sculpture, and so on." So I like the idea of being given infinite resources to solve one problem. As I was going through school I realized that my references were almost always fashion, and sometimes furniture, but usually things related to body scale and how a human wore something or interacted with something at a one-to-one ratio. So when I graduated I really wanted to sort of see what that was about. 'Cause I'd worked for architects and I knew what that lifestyle would be like and it wasn't really what I was looking for. Architecture is 100% client-based unless you're at the very, very top of it. Fashion is also client-driven, but you don't work for your client. You still have the client, but it's a little bit more removed. And I like that idea of working on a lot of product and sort of seeing what works and seeing what doesn't work and every season reacting to what sells and what press likes and what I think was successful and moving forward with a multitude of options.
AS SEEN ON INSTAGRAM: In the end you spend all this time making these clothes, but most people just see an image of them on the internet. So how do you make something that feels really nice, fits really well, and then also looks great in a picture in one view? That idea of presentation from the beginning—like, I was working on prints this morning, and it's really cool, but is this light gonna be so light that you don't even see it in a picture? I like things that are subtle and that aren't totally in your face, and some of the prints are really bold, especially in Spring, but generally I like really subtle moves, and that doesn't really lend itself to the way that most lookbooks are photographed. That's something I'm always thinking about.
SUITING UP: I see like one person on the train every morning wearing a suit. [laughs] But we all go to weddings, we all go to funerals, we all go to whatever where you need to wear a jacket. And I think that as the line expands, that's definitely a category that will happen. And then the question becomes what is the DDUGOFF suit? It's probably a little different. It's funny, I went to North Carolina with some friends and we were staying at my friend's grandmother's house, and like the day before we left she emailed us and was like, "By the way, to have dinner in town, you have to wear a suit." [laughs] And I was like, no! I just said that no one wear suits! And then I had to wear a suit around North Carolina.
MEMORABLE MOMENT: It's been a very quick and long year. Basically right now one year ago is when I had already designed most of the collection and I had already done fabric research, but I hadn't decided that I was doing this size of a collection and that I was going to show it in January. I think there was this moment when I went to the look book shoot for Fall '14—it was during one of those snowstorms last winter, and it was on a Saturday and I had three of my friends there to help steam stuff and the model was this guy that I went to high school with who's in a band called Beach Fossils. And the photographer was this friend that I knew from Opening Ceremony. So it was just this group of friends, and then we unpacked the clothes and everyone was like, "Whoa, this is a real collection. This is a full thing." It was 18 looks, and there was this feeling that it wasn't just a project I was working on, but a real thing.
FUTURE OF MENSWEAR: I think people are finally tired of American heritage. [laughs] Hopefully. And I get feedback from stores a lot that they want to buy this collection but their customer is still stuck on American heritage. Like if it doesn't have triple-needle denim, it won't work. I think it's interesting being in New York because New York is so over things before, like, Jersey realizes that it's a thing. And I think we're moving towards this sort of casual [aesthetic] that still has to be nice. We still go to things that we can't just wear sweatpants to. But what is that? So that's a little bit of American fashion identity. And streetwear is really big, but it's not gonna sell to all Americans. So then what's between that? I think that's what I'm trying to find, which is something that's not heritage and that's not streetwear. It references things from those, but it's different.
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