BRITISH HERITAGE WITH RAG & BONE – FASHION PROFILE

Rag & Bone co-owners and creative directors David Neville, 37, and Marcus Wainwright, 38, are British born, but New York-based, and their distinctive brand of urban cool has become hot fashion property. Distilling the essence of the city into streetwear-inspired clothes underpinned with craftsmanship and traditional fabrics has become their métier. ‘Ultimately, we want Rag & Bone to be a fully fledged lifestyle brand,’ explains Neville, who focuses on the business side while Wainwright oversees the majority of the designing.

Over a period of 12 years, the duo have transformed Rag & Bone from a modest line of men’s jeans into a ready-to-wear and accessories label for both men and women, as well as becoming a fixture on the international fashion-week show schedules. In September 2012, Wainwright and Neville relinquished their regular spot at New York fashion week to show at their recently opened European flagship store on London’s Sloane Street.

Rag & Bone’s cinematic advertising campaigns have starred the likes of Kate Moss and Miranda Kerr, while its understated clothes, which combine technical fabrics with traditional tailoring, have been worn by Cameron Diaz, Jude Law and Emma Stone. In 2007, Wainwright and Neville were presented with the Swarovski Award for Emerging Talent in Menswear Design and won the Council of Fashion Design of America (CFDA) Menswear Designer of the Year in 2010.

The pair first met at boarding school in Berkshire, southeast England, but cemented their friendship working behind a bar in Portugal during their gap year. More trips followed – Wainwright had started a telecoms company, while Neville worked in investment banking, but, tired of the British weather, they moved to Mexico where Wainwright met ‘a beautiful American girl named Glenna [Neece, a model] and followed her back to the States’. They are now married with three children, while Neville is married to Gucci Westman, global artistic director of Revlon, with whom he has two children.

Today, from their studio in Manhattan’s Meatpacking District with a team of more than 300, the duo share their path to success.

David Neville: ‘I had been working in banking in London and when Marcus asked if I wanted to join him in New York, I didn’t have to think hard about it.’

Marcus Wainwright: ‘It was in New York that I decided I wanted to create a great rigid pair of men’s jeans. After some trial and error, the “eureka moment” finally came when I found this amazing factory in Kentucky in the summer of 2002, with incredibly skilled artisans who had been making clothes for decades. We started with menswear and branched into womenswear the following year and more recently, accessories. That trip to Kentucky informed our brand’s philosophy as we witnessed the importance of craftsmanship. Our appreciation of heritage fabrics and tailoring stems from our British roots – my father introduced me to Savile Row pieces as a child and we both went to a boarding school where we wore uniforms every day. Military is also a recurring theme for us.’

DN: ‘As a brand, we have always remained true to our core values: craftsmanship, quality and details. Being British gives us a unique viewpoint: we mine our heritage and then combine it with that edgy, yet understated, downtown New York aesthetic that we’ve been exposed to since we moved here more than a decade ago. Rag & Bone is about authenticity – nothing should ever be contrived.’
MW: ‘The AW13 collection is aviation-inspired, from the start of the era of aeroplanes to the super-technical world of aircraft carriers – the air hostess and the idea of luxury travel played a role, too. Traditional heritage menswear fabrics and colours were used in contrast with pops of bright as would be seen on an aircraft carrier. The Battle pea coat, one of my favourites, represents this idea – it’s a dark eggplant-colour coat with flame-orange melton wool under the collar. The rubberised tweed was also a form of a twisted houndstooth and this fabric was woven in England, and used widely across the collection.’
– Read more on The Style Report from MATCHESFASHION.COM
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