A baritone saxophone wails softly in the background. The lighting is dim but pleasant in the ‘foyer’, rich woods and rusted metals provide structure to the apparel and accessories set strategically about the studio. It is eclectic but oddly consistent, a singular theme coursing through its proverbial vein, difficult to describe yet simultaneously undeniable. Some things are aged, but not old; re-purposed, refined, restructured. Very much like the brand, it’s lived-in, approachable, and comfortable.”We set out to create distinct spaces under the same umbrella,” says R. Alexander Sumner, head of design at the bespoke atelier Alexander Nash. “We have a retail area, a lounge, an office, a fitting and tailoring section, all in one expanse. As we’ve grown, each of these spaces has become a lot less abstract. It’s ever evolving but maintains that gestalt, the DNA of what we do and who we are.” There’d been some changes since my last visit and a quick walk-through captured the new direction currently on display.
“I’ve always based it, and life for that matter, on the principle of ‘resourceful creativity’. I see it as akin to building your wardrobe. You can conceivably only afford a navy suit let’s say. But as you grow financially and in the knowledge of the process of dressing up, you can start thinking beyond that. We’ve built the studio in the same fashion so now what started as a ‘suit’ has an extra pair of plaid pants, a few shirts, ties, etc. The core remains unchanged but now there are resources to add to the ensemble, so to speak. You extend your expression within the means that you have. The evolution is organic–resourceful creativity.”
Sebastian Ramirez, creative director of Alexander Nash, took me through some of the new additions, packed into a 17-foot U-Haul from Bloomfield, Massachusetts and slowly being organized around the showroom. “The vision is still expanding. At our core, we are a blend of classic British refinement and American bravado. Every piece has some particular significance that speaks to our culture here.” Sumner adds, “We actively try to create an environment where guys are inspired and not intimidated by dressing up.” It’s part of the make up, a decision to promote greater inclusiveness in menswear, a haven for aficionados and connoisseurs alike. There’s no room to be critical. “We’re learning everyday, about ourselves, our goals. I want to open the dialogue, to make style understandable and accessible.” Having spent 10 years in education, Sumner relishes the opportunity for discussion, ever eloquent but with an ‘every man’ appeal. “Dressing is like eating. You can order in or you can take the time to cook. The more involved you are in the process, the more rewarding the experience. It’s one of the great pleasures of life. You have to eat, just like you have to dress everyday, but the approach you take determines the personal success of the endeavor. Style is a labor of love. It needs to be cultivated. It takes effort but it’s all worth while.”