Founded by partners Eric Poon, Ravi Thanawala and Atif Ateeq, upstart clothing label Vane is not another t-shirt brand. Based out of New York City, Vane takes a classic approach to garment construction, designing and producing (from the fabric and trim sourcing to the hangtag packaging) 100% of their items locally. E-debuting their â€œPre-Spring Collectionâ€ on Format, Vaneâ€™s quality fabrics, and original cuts are elements youâ€™ll have to feel to fully understand. Check out Vane in NYC retailers or on their website, http://www.wearevane.com.
â€œafter fabrics are sourced, we cut and sew everything in New Yorkâ€™s historic Garment District, and during the process we can adjust things like yoke shape, stitch style, and fit literally on the spotâ€
Format: Please introduce the founders of Vane and discuss their respective roles within the company.
Vane Crew: Ravi Thanawala is the financial mind and sourcing genius behind the entire operation, handling not only all financials and sales, but also finding fabrics and production contacts. Eric Poon is the garment designer and co-creative, responsible for the silhouettes and the brand identity by working hand-in-hand with Atif to conceptualize everything. Atif Ateeq is the visual designer and other co-creative, and as a photographer by trade, helps guide the brand with his artistic aesthetic and eye. The three of us come from real diverse backgrounds, and we have an even bigger difference in personal style. We all bring something to the table, and by going back and forth, when we have items we collectively like, we know we have something solid on our hands.
Format: Why have you decided to come together to create a fashion line?
VC: All three of us had some sort of involvement in fashion and we had the desire to do something independently and creative on our own. We all shared a similar entrepreneurial drive and saw a great opportunity in brining fashion to streetwear and vice versa, and we felt that collaboratively we could pool our talents together to do something special.
Format: How did you choose the name â€œVaneâ€ and what does it mean to the company?
VC: â€œVaneâ€ is a play on the word â€œvain,â€ and we thought it only appropriate to be a clothing company with substance in an industry generally known for its vanity. A â€œvaneâ€ is generally something that is an indicator of things to come, while the more commonly association of self-loving arrogance is known for â€œvain.â€ Much of our brand has to do with juxtaposing conflicting ideas and messages, and we felt that Vane had a certain ring to it. Coincidentally, we found out later that Vane also has its origins in the Latin word fanna, which means â€œcloth,â€ something we thought was accidental but really cool in the context of our brand.
Format: The Vane biography mentions that you are â€œproducing unique silhouettes and garments in a way that hasn’t been seen since the old-school New York ateliers of the 30’s and 40’s.â€ Please expand on this.
VC: Our entire line is designed, sourced, and produced all in New York City, which is in and of itself a rarity these days. But our process is how people made tailored garments back in the day, by first designing a silhouette and pattern, and then finding fabrics locally in the market as opposed to having mass reams of fabrics produced for us abroad. Then after fabrics are sourced, we cut and sew everything in New Yorkâ€™s historic Garment District, and during the process we can adjust things like yoke shape, stitch style, and fit literally on the spot. The end result is a globally influenced, locally driven garment, more tailored and handcrafted than mass-produced.
Format: What advantages and disadvantages does producing all of your clothing in New York City introduce?
VC: The foremost advantage is the amount of control we have over the entire production process. We are able to have a hands-on involvement with each garment from beginning to end, and we can ensure that everything is exactly as it should be. Also, since we arenâ€™t waiting on shit in transit from China or to clear through customs, we can turn product around in ten days to a week, which helps us react better to the needs of our accounts. The downside is definitely the cost issue; since our labor is so much higher producing domestically, but itâ€™s something we feel the consumer is down to pay a little extra for.
Format: Vane cites influences including APC, Comme des Garcon, Raf Simmons, Y-3, Addict, and SVSV. What is it about these brands that Vane draws inspiration from?
VC: Living in New York, we are exposed to so much, not just fashion but a range of stimuli, so itâ€™s hard not to pull influence from everywhere. But in terms of this particular subset of designers, I think each brand has given us some insight into different aspects of fashion design, conceptually, technically and aesthetically. We love APCâ€™s French-Minimalist design aesthetic and the slim European silhouettes. Raf Simmons just understands the male figure, and he is incredibly functional with his clothing while staying aesthetically cutting edge, something we try and keep in mind. Rei Kawakubo with Comme des Garcon is so conceptually fascinating in the way she approaches fashion that itâ€™s given us a different perspective on what we consider fashion. Yohji Yammatoâ€™s Y-3 is super creative with sportswear and using comfortable fabrics, and we always keep comfort and wearability in mind when choosing fabrics. On the street side, Addict is technically innovative in how they make their gear, and their organic approach to streetwear has produced some incredible pieces. Genslerâ€™s Serum Vs. Venom is truly Luxury Street, using only the finest fabrics in the world. His production process is very much in line with ours, in which fabric and content dictate the luxury and price of the garments, not the limited-edition hype or artificially-imposed factory minimums.
Format: Most upstart streetwear brands start with tees and move their way up. Vane has decided to launch with unique outerwear pieces. What was the motivation for developing this collection?
VC: Right now, the streetwear market is flooded with t-shirt brands, and so many kids start printing tee shirts and call it a â€œclothing line.â€ We respect the hustle, but at the same time we needed to do something different and innovative and different. When we first met in college, we flirted with screen-printing tee shirts, but we felt that the product was missing substance. We wanted to inject some real fashion elements and garments with integrity into the existing street scene. We also felt we could make a name for ourselves by creating unique and well-crafted garments, and it could give us somewhat of a competitive edge as opposed to being just another tee shirt brand, when there are already a lot of brands out there that have built incredible fan bases already by making really dope tees.
Format: Please describe the Manolito piece.
VC: For this collection, we didnâ€™t want to do any kind of standard silhouette, so the Manolito is our take on the pullover sweatshirt or sweater, but with clean and interesting patterns and a mock-neck shawl collar. We used two fabrications, a ribbed cotton, which we think is a great basic, introductory piece to our brand, and we also ran two colorways out of a double-wool knit, which are a bit more bold but really versatile.
Format: Vane has decided to drop a â€œpre-spring collection.â€ What was the motivation for this, as opposed to a normal spring collection?
VC: We will eventually have a spring collection out, but we also wanted to get away from traditional buying cycles, in which fall collections have been sitting in stores since August. But with the crazy weather conditions, especially in New York, it doesnâ€™t really make sense to have hoodies available when itâ€™s still hot out just because the industry says so. We felt the pre-spring collection, which is dropping in the winter/holiday time, is the right time for our outerwear and heavier garments like sweaters and hoodies.
Format: Vane is introducing its Pre-Spring Collection with fairly tight distribution. How come you have decided to go this route?
VC: In line with our production ethos, we wanted to have a hands-on feel for our retail partners and where our line would be sitting, so we were very selective to where our brand would be available. But, we also wanted to build legitimate relationships with the stores and staff that operate them on a day-to-day basis. Our business model is very relationship-based, in terms of the way we have built our network of producers and sellers, and we think itâ€™s a great, organic way of growth. Itâ€™s not always the quantity as much as the quality of the account, especially in our market.
Format: Anything else you would like to discuss?
VC: Go peep Vane if youâ€™re in the New York area! You can find us at some of the Cityâ€™s better retailers: Union, Reed Space, Caravan, and Brooklyn Circus. Also, look for us in Miami at the Heist pop-up shop at this yearâ€™s Art Basel, and you can always find us at http://www.wearevane.com. Sorry for the shameless plugâ€¦