Few new brands have been able to impress and surprise us in the way the London-based Fourth & Main have. Their collection is barely two seasons old, and the impeccable styling and quality of this new menswear brands is immediately obvious. But what sets this launch apart from others is the intricate intertwining of the collection with a community of some of Londons most creative people. Launching alongside the collection is Fourth & Main Journala high-quality, carefully curated, beautifully designed magazine featuring artwork, photo shoots and thoughtful articles reflecting the mood of British contemporary creative culture today. Additionally, James Wright and Nikhil Adwalpalkar, the duo behind the label, opened a flagship store recently in the historic Carnaby Street area.
We caught up with the guys behind Fourth & Main to learn more about their unusual approach to starting up.
See the collection and pick up a Journal at Capsule Paris January 18-20, 2013.
The first thing one cant help but notice when entering your website is the high level of talent, and creativity and quality the brand exudes. What came first, the content or the collection?
NA: They came together, in the early stages of the business we realized that to launch in a populated market and create an impression we needed to be different. Our selling point was our Journal and the fact we could could transcend our utility as a clothes manufacturer and become a lifestyle brand. The conversation we have with our customer is on a wider level than just products, we want to be a part of their day-to-day lives.
Please introduce yourselves to our reader. Who are you guys? And what were you doing before you launched Fourth & Main?
JW: My name's James Wright and I'm the Creative Director of Fourth & Main and the Editor of Fourth & Main Journal. Prior to F&M, I was working in the U.S. First for the Barack Obama presidential campaign, then for a New York film executive.
NA: I am 27 years old and have lived in London for 24 of those years. Jamie and I met about 11 years ago on holiday, we have been friends ever since. Before starting Fourth & Main I was working in business development for a luxury lifestyle group. My interest has always been in the business of fashion and tailoring, I am delighted that now this is what my job entails!
How would you characterize the current state of the menswear market. Do you see it evolving or changing?
NA: I think evolution is necessary at the top of the market to inform trends. There is portion of customers for who this seasonal trend change is paramount. In turn, this funds a large portion of the industry from catwalk to high street. For me the classics never get old. I think the change occurs when well made, well fitting, well finished clothes are available for everyone. So in a sense, no, I dont see the landscape changing, but I do see a greater prevalence of affordable classic pieces.
Whats the overall vibe of your AW13 collection? And, what are some key items you will be showing at Capsule in January?
NA: Our mantra is contemporary takes on classic pieces and this collection follows suit. We have unlined blazers in a variety of wools, moleskins and cottons to provide a cornerstone for smart/casual dressing. We are extremely proud of our outerwear this season. Our waxed cotton and Melton wool pieces are fantastic. All our blazers and outerwear are constructed with British cloth and our knitwear is from Scotland. I am delighted we have been able to do this and provide it at an accessible price point.
Who is your target customer?
NA: We like to think of customers as adventurous with a lean to the classic but interest in the contemporary. The Journal satisfies their curiosity and the clothes match their style.
How would you describe the collection?
NA: The collection provides a selection of wardrobe staples updated with a contemporary silhouette. We aim to source the majority of our cloth in the UK and provide collections that are cosmopolitan yet retain a British identity. For AW13 we have produced our largest collection to date, incorporating suiting and eyewear.
I read an interview with Burberry creative director Christopher Bailey in which he said he believed that every fashion house will also have to become a content generator in order to survive. You guys definitely embody the notion that content and fashion go hand in hand. Tell us more about your Journal, and other creative endeavors.
JW: I agree wholeheartedly with the notion that content creation is a integral component to starting up a fashion line. The Journal was born out of the same principle as the clothesto sate the thirst of a market that wasn't being catered to. Disheartened by the lack of opportunity for young, talented writers to have their work published in print, we resolved to provide an antidote to today's trend towards bite-size commentary by creating a platform for young writers to champion a return to long-form political and cultural commentary. The Journal was predicated on a bridge of content and design; youth-driven content, coupled with a return to old fashioned values of form and presentation. Despite the abundance of digital content all around us, we strongly believed there was still an appetite for a well-curated, well-written and well-produced print magazine. We felt that the permanence and physicality of the object was still something to treasure.
To provide a more regular interaction with our readership, we run an online editorial that endeavours to put out three features a week. This could be anything from film reviews to a world affairs piece, a video or an interview with a band. Crucially, the scope and remit remain the same; to provide a platform for original, innovative voices from across the arts.
How will you evolve the Fourth & Main journal? Do you ever envision offering subscriptions or selling it in bookshops?
JW: We wanted the first two issues of F&M Journal to be democratically distributed: free and available for all. To those ends, we hand-picked a selection of galleries, book shops and boutiques from around the world that we felt reflected the personality of the project. From March, however, we plan to make the transition from free to paid publication, broadening the reach of the Journal by being on a small number of newsstands globally to compliment our marquee stockists.
You recently opened a store. Tell us about itis it strictly your collection? Whats the neighborhood like?
NA: We opened in April 12 just off Carnaby Street in London. We only sell F&M clothes but stock a wide range of books, zines and other printed materials. The location is perfect for us, we are not next to the major brands on Carnaby- American Apparel, Puma, Diesel etc. we are located 30 yards away on Newburgh Street. Fellow residents include Lomography, Levis Vintage Clothing, Fred Perry and Superga. The area is situated just off Oxford Street & Regent Street and is next to Soho. There is a terrific buzz around the place and would be top recommendation for anyone shopping in London.
Whats the plan for Fourth & Main going forward?
NA: This our first wholesale season and presents a fantastic opportunity to reach an international clientele. We hope to build on the relationships we make in January and carry these on for years to come.
We have started a new line of made-to-measure items- Fourth & Main Tailored. This is overseen by our head designer and ex-Savile Row tailor Paul White. We feel that everyone should have the opportunity to own something bespoke, our suits start at £450, blazers at £250 and we are about to doing made-to-measure outerwear.
Fourth & Main is looking to expand its retail operation internationally. We are currently looking at a few sites to open our second store in mid-2013. Keep your eyes out!