Interview by Nick Grant
Sometimes, it’s just fate. It doesn’t always have to be some laborious process, filled with war stories of trudging through years of fashion stripe-earning. The industry doesn’t always have to be missing something. Sometimes, you just want to create something you believe in, regardless of what’s currently in the field.
The relationship creative director/designer David Song and brand manager/muse Andrew Nguyen forged over the past year and a half wasn’t destined, it was recognition of each other’s interests, a combination of unique talents and a mutual necessity for them. Song’s background in design and the business ethic and savvy know-how Nguyen had crafted over the years were stepping stones to the next venture in their lives. Not a crossroad they were forced to decide upon. Feldton’s conception isn’t glitzy or glamorous, but it’s undeniably rich with its honest approach to menswear, handcrafting everything in New York City while relying on durable American workswear with an emphasis on Japanese, expertly sprinkling in surreptitious details that will make you grin cheekily when you notice them. Something you probably hear more times than not on the blogosphere, so hearing “but this is different” probably won’t sway you. But, trust me; this is much different.
Nick Grant recently spoke with David and Andrew over the phone - in the middle of David’s very first tattoo session, unbeknownst to his wife - as they prepare to make the journey to Capsule Vegas, trying to continue Feldton’s tour of brand exposure domestically and internationally, gaining cosigns from just about everyone who crosses their path, even though they continue to play their part as calm and collected as the day they kicked off the brand.
Meet Andrew and David and see the collection at Capsule Las Vegas, Aug 17-19.
You guys have both mentioned you consider Japan to be “home.” And looking at the brand, its heavily predicated on Japanese tailoring and workwear which is huge over there, just talk about the influence Feldton draws from the culture, in general.
DS:I see the people on the street and they definitely try to be cool, but a lot of the time it’s over the top. It’s too much. Sometimes, I feel like it’s really bizarre and over the top. I like simple T-shirts. Simple jeans. Timeless pieces, which I see there, too. But you have to have a sense of what’s cool. So you have to know how to mix things well. You can’t have everything vintage or everything modern, as a brand. You have to know what’s cool.
AN: Just to elaborate a little; David and I were in Japan at the CC show, we were invited to come by CLUTCH Magazine; do you know anything about that magazine?
I saw some of the pictures you and David posted and it looked great.
AN: Yea, so that’s like the premiere magazine for as far as the who’s who of the denim world. For like half of, at least in Japan, everyone thinks we’re Japanese. Everywhere we go, I guess every Asian person looks the same to everyone, even in Japan. Because we just looked the part, so over there, we just kind of felt at home. We were shopping fabrics. Walking amongst everyone. Absorbing the culture. It’s a very peaceful way to live.
The Japanese market, you know, loves American workwear. Made in America is so strong. Made in New York City is even stronger. So, they’re not even looking for Made in America on tags. They’re looking for Made in New York.
The menswear world is ever-changing and evolving, especially even more so in the last year or so. Feldton has a strong emphasis on heritage, so how do you see yourselves playing a role in progressive fashion?
AN: David and I have been approached by people to try and grow their heritage brand because of how we’ve stayed true to what we’re doing, but how do we do that without sacrificing our integrity and cannibalizing ourselves. But I think that’s what we do right. We’re true to ourselves. Yea, we could be trendy. That’s easy. But I keep telling David; we’re not just a denim brand. We don’t want to be a denim brand. Because, why? There are so many established denim brands out there. We’re nobody compared to them. Those are the brands we idolize. We idolize Engineered Garments and Daiki and what he’s done for the fashion industry. He stuck to his guns to the core for what he wanted to do and for his business. And, actually, that’s where we kind of are the same. We want to keep to our business model and not change it up. And yea, we want to make money. We all have investors. But how do we grow the brand. Yea, we’re in Barney’s now, but how do we maintain that? Where do we go after that when we’re not in Barney’s anymore? You have to keep your momentum. Start humble from the ground and work your way up. We’re going to grow the brand slowly, let it take us to where we needs to be. This is only our second season but we expect to be around for a long time.
Going a little bit into the spring/summer collection you are going to be showcasing, with such a strong concentration on durable, hard-wearing fabrics, what are you utilizing in the collection that everyone can look forward to?
AN: We’re using a lot of selvedge denim. We kind of re-work it in a way where we use the selvedge in different ways than the market has seen. And we invite everyone to come visit to see. We could take pictures, but we pride on being able to see these types of details firsthand and really see who we are. I think most people are more impressed with the brand when they can actually see it.
It still comes through very clear, even on some of the shots you’ve put on Instagram and the lookbook shots you’ve released up to this point, it still rings true to showing everyone what you’re about and your aesthetic and it’s very refreshing. But, of course, be able to see it up close and personal, to touch, to feel the durability would be preferred.
AN: We have shirts here made of Japanese fabric and on one side, the selvedge end are little bunnies. Those are the little quirky details David does that I’m just amazed at and I’m like “I would have never thought of that.”
We look forward to having a great show. We look forward to Capsule. As a buyer, previously, it was a great show for me. So it’s almost like I’m coming home and that’s why home feels like its Capsule.
photos: Boone Rodriguez for Classfare