Watch out Louis XIV, the modern man has found his inner peacock and he is strutting, grooming and squawking about it relentlessly. We are thankful for the slow death of the Brawny man (although he still is mighty good lookin’) and are welcoming this new sartorial sensation with open arms.
One of the ring leaders of this new guard is Ovadia & Sons, founded by two brothers from Brooklyn, Shimon and Ariel Ovadia. In 2012 they were courted by GQ as the Best New Menswear Designers in America. And they are currently working on a capsule line for the Gap as well as a fall line under a new label to sell exclusively at Barneys.
I met up with the boys in the handsome showroom in Chelsea to hear more about where they came from, what their focus is and what’s next.
The Ovadias have always dabbled in apparel - their family has owned a children’s apparel business since 1986. But menswear is a totally new direction for them. The idea behind Ovadia & Sons is to create a collection for every occasion including tweed suits for weekends in the country, sport coats for the city, tuxedos for evenings out and exquisitely tailored shorts for weekends away.
What set them apart was their attention to detail and Thom Browne-esque dictation on how a suit should be. Their lapels point up, double breasted suits are only buttoned on the bottom so the lapel rolls and arms are kept high with a small arm hole for better structure. Even shirt collars are higher so you can see the white of the shirt at the top. “All of our suits were originally double breasted with wide lapels; it’s our look,” Shimon explained. “We don’t change for trend's sake and we believe that if you do what you believe in it’s better than selling yourself out,” he continued.
There are only five people on staff so it is a small team and although the family has a factory, it produces mass apparel so they really started from scratch. “Nobody would help us. We didn’t have any mentors. We wondered how we were going to turn all of our ideas into a brand and it was very frustrating,” admits Shimon.
To round out their gentlemanly lifestyle collection they also are huge collectors of vintage menswear accessories and even decor, which they use as inspiration as well as selling it on their site. As they explained, “We stock it here more as a hobby to show our taste to the customer. We love traveling and snooping around flea markets and estate sales. We just bought 69 collars, we don’t know what we are going to do with them,” they laugh.
Beautiful shoes from England are also part of the collection but factory names are kept a secret, “We don't believe in putting someone else's name on our product for validation,” the boys told me.
Recently the brand has launched made to measure. “It has been a wild success,” Ariel told us. “Wall Street men come in here and order 5-6 suits and a pile of shirts and then bring their friends who do the same.” Since they readily admit they don’t have in depth tailoring training they hired Rory Duffy as their master tailor. They plucked him from Henry Poole in London where Duffy apprenticed for five years. He even won the ‘Golden Shears’ award for his work.
The brothers have found their clients have been quickly evolving in just the past couple of seasons thanks to the internet and the OCD men have now days about fashion. “Over the last year we have seen many more well dressed men on the street. It’s refreshing. Even casual looks are well thought out and nice quality. You are dressing for yourself after all,” Ariel explained. “With the internet the customer is so educated that they now ask about certain fabrics, sizing, length and buttons. They certainly know what they want and it keeps us on our toes!”
Keep a look out for Ovadia & Sons for the Gap launching in September as well as something secret in the works launching in 2013. Last but not least we are excited about their crushable Trilby hat they are rolling out for the fall. “Sadly, there are no longer hat checks at bars and restaurants so this one is easy, soft and can be rolled up into your bag when not in use,” they proudly told us.
At their pace the brothers will be opening their own restaurant and bar before we know it. We look forward to the hat check.