Two big-name brands. Four breakthrough menswear designers. One limited edition collection.
If you think you’ve heard it all before, then think again. In a menswear market that’s awash with flash-in-the-pan, run-of-the-mill collaborations, retailer Gap and American GQ’s annual Best New Menswear Designers in America (BNMDA) project is a breath of fresh air.
Why? Because unlike the usual ‘A x B’ formula, whereby one irrelevant brand piggybacks on the relevance of another’s in exchange for a tidy sum, the Gap X GQ BNMDA project gives back, not only providing mentorship for emerging menswear makers but also offering up a platform for international exposure.
Established in 2007, the project sees a select group of US-based up-and-coming menswear designers – carefully chosen by GQ US editor-in-chief Jim Nelson, creative director Jim Moore and the magazine’s fashion editors – each produce a limited edition, affordable capsule collection for Gap, with this year’s collection ranging from £10 for marled socks to £249.95 for a washed leather hoodie.
“The most exciting part [of] this program is the strength and speed with which it continues to grow – and the way it helps support the growing menswear movement in America,” says Jim Nelson. “The goal has always been to offer a launch pad for young talent, and I was thrilled to see our designers’ clothes selling out in Gap stores across the country last year. The 2015 designers are impressive, fresh, and most importantly bring unique perspectives to the world of men’s fashion.”
And the BNMDA class of 2015 is:
A self-confessed tailoring nut, Brooklyn-based Hart has sworn by suiting ever since he took to wearing bow ties to school. Launched as a small line of ties in 2009, Hart’s eponymous brand has since evolved into a fully-fledged men’s apparel line comprising 1950s- and 1960s-inspired tailoring finished with a modern flavour – think wool and silk ties, Donegal tweed suiting and BanLon polo shirts.
Hart’s Gap X GQ BNMDA capsule is similarly pitched, including colourful suiting and smart-casual separates that are classic but packed full of character. We suggest you pick up the 100 per cent wool windowpane check trousers (£49.95) to instantly nail this season’s checked tailoring trend.
L.A. streetwear label Stampd started out as a sneaker-painting business, eventually expanding into a comprehensive line of sleek casualwear that’s at once understated and eye-catching. Bomber jackets come layered over tees, tanks and minimal sweatshirts and teamed with slim, ripped jeans for a look that’s equal parts urban sports luxe and laid-back West Coast cool.
Founder Chris Stamp carries this signature mix across to his Gap X GQ BNMDA offering, presenting a slick line-up of sports-meets-streetwear separates, from slogan tees to moto jeans and joggers.
Don’t forget to check out the black mesh flight jacket (£89.95) – a technical take on a military outerwear classic, and hands down one of this season’s best bombers.
If Stampd plays up L.A.’s monochrome streetwear scene, fellow City of Angels label NSF takes it back to basics with low-key, lived-in pieces that nod to SoCal surfers and grunge-loving crowdsurfers alike.
For NSF designers Nick Friedberg and Jamie Haller, beauty is to be found in the bust up and worn in staples you’d imagine yourself wearing for a month-long West Coast road trip: plaid flannel shirts, baseball shirts and distressed denim, all crafted from top quality materials and washed, distressed and dyed (sometimes twice) with tender loving care.
With their sights set somewhere between Shibuya and Brooklyn, brothers Emil and Sandy Corsillo launched The Hill-Side in 2009. Six years on, and the duo’s near obsessive interest in vintage denim and rare Japanese fabrics has spurred them on to grow a small collection of square-bottom ties into a bona fide brand.
One for both denim geeks and Harajuku lovers, The Hill-Side takes its cues from Tokyo’s singular appropriation of iconic American pieces, including everything from wool fedoras to tailored selvedge jackets – put simply, this label’s wares are a #menswear devotee’s wet dream.
Started in 2007, Gap X GQ BNMDA has never looked better. And much like the three previous collections, we’ll bet this one won’t stick around for long.
After all, when else are you going to scoop up a slice of America’s finest design for the price of a night out?
The Gap X GQ BNMDA collection is available now in select Gap stores in more than seven countries, as well as online at www.gap.com.
The collection can also be seen in the October 2015 issue of GQ (US).