The folks at Mr Porter are on a roll. Just last week, the retailer launched its own in-house line. And now, it’s teaming up with one of our favorite brands—NYC-based Noah—on an exclusive capsule collection of tailoring, rugby shirts, hoodies, tees, and more. Taking its cues from New Wave, the collaborative offering is basically a master class in un-boring suit-wearing in 2017.
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We caught up with Noah designer Brendon Babenzien (who logged time as Supreme’s creative director before striking out on his own) and Mr Porter buying director Sam Lobban to talk about how the whole project came together, the power of double-breasted jackets, and why you no longer need a shirt and tie to look pulled together.
On working together
Brendon Babenzien: Quite simply, we had met with some of the Mr Porter people and we hit it off. They shared some of our beliefs about product and how product should be presented and considered. We generally don’t do much wholesale because we don’t feel a kinship with most retailers. Mr Porter, however, has a healthy respect for their customer which is something we value. They genuinely want to offer a combination of great products and services.
Sam Lobban: I feel like we share a real interest in style. That’s the main thing for me. Brendon is making super interesting, contemporary, northeastern menswear. And the idea of a Long Island skate kid’s view on somewhat preppy clothing feels super relevant for a Mr Porter customer. We’re into it as a team—on a personal level—and like the vibe he’s creating. And there’s a shared sentiment in this idea of style over fashion.
On what each brand brought to the table
BB: I think we bring a slightly youthful view of suiting and jackets, and they bring a great audience and ability to communicate our message to that audience effectively.
SL: Really I think what Brendon brings to the table is Brendon—it’s his viewpoint that comes through in all the things that Noah stands for. It’s that combination of his life experience and his different reference points. You bundle that all together and out comes Noah. So, he brings Noah to the table. And we bring a shared appreciation of that.
On the styling of the collection
BB: We were really eager to start showing some ideas on how people can wear suits or jackets without it feeling boring. That pretty much informed the rest. We wanted to have things to complement the suits, but we weren’t going to make shirts and ties. That led us to rugbys, hoodies and tees.
SL: Brendon had quite a clear view of what working with Mr Porter would mean for him. It was taking some of the ideas that are in the normal Noah collection and expanding on that. An element that really makes it Noah and makes it individual to Mr Porter is the styling. There’s no shirting in the collection. You think of classic American sportswear and there’s always a button-down oxford. But Brendon felt very strongly that it should be a crewneck tee or rugby polo under a sports jacket. I think that’s super interesting and relatively unique for us.
On all those double-breasted jackets
BB: I tend to lean towards double-breasted these days because it seems like more of a commitment and has a bit more flair. I also like the idea of these jackets being the outerwear piece that people wear, and in that way you can almost think of a double-breasted jacket like a version of a peacoat.
SL: We sell double-breasted very well. And it really played into the core reference points for the Noah fall collection—the ‘80s New Wave type vibe. It’s taking double-breasted from the corporate world and setting it on its head. Part of the beauty of wearing a double-breasted jacket is that you sort of wrap yourself in cloth. There’s something kind of sophisticated-casual about it. It made sense for the general feeling.
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On how the Noah x Mr Porter shopper will wear the clothes
BB: I imagine our customer doing whatever the hell they want really. I’m hoping they aren’t really looking to me in that area and they flip it and do something I would never consider. That’s really what we’re hoping for in general.
SL: If you draw a line back to the New Wave–David Byrne and all that—the way those guys were wearing suits, it didn’t feel corporate. It felt very natural, but it still has this stylistic aura around it. And the way we see the Mr Porter customer shopping and wearing product, it feels very relevant to that idea of a very interchangeable wardrobe. For a lot of guys now, especially in more creative industries, wearing a sports jacket is a stylistic decision. You don’t have to wear one to the office anymore.
On the item(s) they need from the collection
BB: I already have it: the baby camelhair jacket. I love how heavy it is and that it can be my actual outerwear piece. I also know I’ll have it for life because the cloth provided by Loro Piano is exceptional.
SL: I love the gray double-breasted suit, because the fabric is incredible. And I love the camel hair hoodies. It’s Loro Piana overcoat fabric, but it’s in a hoodie, which is pretty nice. I also really like the striped rugby shirt I mentioned. There’s something really cool and sort of late ‘80s, early ‘90s reference there. You can break it down into individual pieces because they’re strong enough to do that, but I think when you see it styled up and worn the way that it’s meant to worn, that’s when it becomes something super special.