Most brands toil for years before anyone takes any notice . . . En Noir isn’t most brands. Since its unintentional inception last August, the fashion house has been catapulted to the fore of modern menswear. Maintaining its streetwear credentials with a relaxed silhouette, En Noir has refined the slouchy aesthetic with decadent skins, precise craftsmanship and subtle detailing. The label has garnered a following among celebrities, with Kanye, A$AP Rocky and Lebron James lining their closers in the brand’s wares. At the helm of the label is designer, Rob Garcia and his brand director, Curtains. In this interview, the Brooklyn native and rapper turned fashion powerhouse, talks to Mass Appeal about all things style, clothing and fashion.
En Noir was very much in it’s infancy when Kanye was spotted in the leather sweats last August. How did he hear about the brand?
After seeing our stuff on Instagram, his stylist reached out. A few weeks later somebody sent me a picture of him wearing En Noir walking down the street. I was like, shit, Kanye is wearing our pants! Then he wore En Noir in a music video (Dj Khaled feat. Kanye West, “I Wish You Would“). Then he wore it in another music video, (2 Chainz Feat. Kanye West, “Birthday Song“). You know, once Kanye starts something, the rest of the fashion world will come following or at least they’ll get curious. We weren’t ready to launch the line. That was the launch of the line because everyone was like “where can I get this?” If there’s a demand, you need to have the supply.
A lot of celebrities wear your clothes, people in music and sport. Do they inspire the collection?
Less people, more concepts. We did the Bull shorts for spring which were inspired by the whole culture behind Jordans. We wanted to pay homage to Jordans because that’s where we came from. So it’s partly inspired by people but more the culture and the idea behind the sports. We did the BMX leather pant as well. We’re not inspired by a specific rider, it’s more so the culture behind BMX riding.
The En Noir aesthetic has been compared to Balmain and Rick Owens. How do you feel about that?
Who do you admire as a designer?
Hedi Slimane. He is the greatest menswear designer ever. The new YSL menswear collection is awesome. When you think about it, he created an industry. Menswear used to be just a polo shirt, a knit sweater, a tacky boxy suit and you threw a label on it. Now Louis Vuitton is dedicating stores to menswear. Hedi was at the forefront of creating that business. He made it fashionable for men to still be men but be into fashion. Before, you were a Wall Street banker, a skater or a biker or something. A man’s look was defined mostly by his job or his hobby. Now men really pay attention to what they wear.
What is your favorite piece from the Spring Collection?
My favorite piece from the collection might be the leather five-pocket pants. I wear those more than anything. The leather sweats are awesome too. They are the most comfortable thing to fly in because they’re lined in silk but I like the five pocket pants, they’re like leather jeans.
What do you think of the convergence of street wear and high-end fashion in recent years?
I think it’s always been there. The Internet takes away the mystery and the questions and everything is in your face. But, if you look at early Gucci collections they were inspired by street style. I just don’t think the information was that accessible to the average person. Now you can literally trace back a picture and be like hmm, I remember that picture of a skater kid, look at such and such’s runway show, they jacked that entire look.
Speaking of the Internet, do you think it’s a blessing or a curse when it comes to fashion?
It’s a catch 22 because if you can’t physically go to Japan or Paris you can still see what’s going on there. I think it’s a curse when it doesn’t go past the Internet. Too much can really make things stale because then everything depends on whats going on on blogs and everyone gets stuck in the same zone. I don’t think designer are designing anymore from the perspective of designing, they’re designing for numbers and figures. If you look at Givenchy, once that Rottweiler t-shirt hit, it was more about numbers. Pre-Rottweiler, every season was different, they did plaid one season, christian iconography another, now it’s just a new animal. Its like yo, come on! The shirt sold phenomenally well but you made those dollars because you’re creative. Be creative and do it all over. That’s how I look at it. I think the internet makes things stale because designers are like look it’s successful let’s keep doing it.
Who has good style?
The guys I like aren’t famous or anything. They’re just regular everyday guys with ill style. But David Beckham is ill and I like Brandon Flowers from The Killers. Kanye, of course. ASAP Rocky has really good style. He is killing it right now. He is a real fan of clothing and he really tries to push and go beyond what’s in front of him.
What trends are you into right now?
I’m more into style than fashion. Fashion changes every week, style is who you are. You can wear the same thing and no one ever notices because it’s an ill style. I’m pretty much in that zone, I know what silhouettes work for me and I just base my look around that.
How does being from New York inform your style?
I grew up around poor people. Poor people sometimes are the most fashionable because they try to over compensate for the lack of funds by getting clothing. It’s a weird mentality in the hood. It’s a real choice what you wear. You don’t have enough money for ten jackets so you get one jacket but it has to be the best jacket. So that’s what I grew up around and just being around that energy really inspired me.
What’s next for En Noir?
We’re always thinking growth. It’s a lifestyle inspired label, so anything we’re into in life I would want to tackle it, once the timing and execution is right. I don’t want to do it for the sake of throwing our label on it. Like yo, let’s do socks, it’s like no how can we take socks to the next level. If we can’t do it to the 10th degree, I would rather not do it.