Aug 20 2013
Though tailoring and heritage remain as menswear’s main draw, sportswear has made its return under the veil of progressive designs and unique fits. At one point in time, tailoring and heritage was all men wanted, but today we see the general focus shift to brands like KTZ, MAN, and Sibling that we can classify as “menswear couture”. Today’s man blends all styles into their own unique style that fits their desires. Some lean more towards streetwear while others lean toward minimalist tailoring design, but all in all, today’s man cannot be characterized by the way he dresses because he technically fits under every category.
“We hate to feel typecast,” said Rochambeau designer, Laurence Chandler. “We also don’t fit a mold when it comes to who we are and how we create.” Chandler founded Rochambeau in 2007 as a response to the clean and proper menswear brands that would show during NYFW. “We saw a void for progressive menswear that was coming out of NYC. We wanted to rebel against that and push the limits with menswear. At the end of the day we really love creating cool shit!”
Rochambeau is way before its time. Today, men wear shirts with longer tails, layer up with flowing, draped pieces, and prefer dressing down with high top sneakers on a monochrome outfit. Today’s man has the basics, the essentials, and now doesn’t mind taking risks to find their true style; with that comes the reemergence of sportswear. Rochambeau is what men are looking for today. It’s sportswear made just like their post-recession wardrobe – high quality fabrics and garments well constructed with careful craftsmanship.
“Working within the sportswear realm allowed us to experiment with technical fabrics like mesh and sweats and the result was a fashion twist of classic sportswear pieces,” Chandler explained. “We take pride in designing and producing all garments in New York City, right in the Garment District. We pay a premium for the construction of all of our products because the detailing and the fit is that important.”
Chandler took a different approach for SS14. “Spring 2014 was a bit tongue in cheek for us. We had a couple reviews from our last show that was referring to our label as Goth, mainly because we had a very dark and monochromatic collection. The conversation began by thinking what the furthest thing from that could be and we decided on sportswear. We decided to use an actual bruise as the print for the season and it allowed us to pull colors from it that we would not have traditionally used.”
Chandler sought to design a collection that was familiar yet unique. For SS14, he envisioned a team and how they would compliment each other by how they dress as opposed to envisioning a single person and how their wardrobe would look that season. “We looked back at historic athletic styles and pulled from various sports to create a fun and distinct collection,” Chandler shared. “We have pieces with shoulder pads, basketball shorts, and even a boxing robe.” Key elements of each sport and legendary athletes play a role in the collection’s DNA and the final touch is a color palette based on a bruise. “We didn’t have formal fashion training or backgrounds- it started out of a love of creating and learning from trial and error. We do this because we love it and there is a freedom in not having to answer to anyone”
Menswear is catching up to Rochambeau in that it is much more free and open today. Men are discovering that they should dress to fit their mood and character instead of dressing up to impress another. As menswear progresses, labels, classifications and categories will continue to be lost and you can credit Chandler’s vision for that.
Rochambeau is at Capsule Vegas today.