Reading the recent biography Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade, about the twentieth-century gay man-about-town Samuel Steward, got Loden Dager co-designer Paul Marlow thinking. "He had so many different lives in his one life," Marlow explained at a preview in his studio ahead of the label's Fall show. (Steward was an English professor, turned novelist, turned pornographer, turned official tattoo artist to the Oakland, California, Hell's Angels.) "All these different archetypes of masculinity: Most guys go through some of those every week, every month, every year. You have your work, you have your free time, and you have your hobbies."
So the new collection breaks down into five archetypes of masculinity, Steward-inspired: the student, the professor, the biker, the preppy sailor, and the man-about-town. That's a long way of saying Marlow and his co-designer, Oliver Helden, are working hard to make sure their line is diversified among price points and styles—that there's something for everyone. The same logic guided their decision to tone down LD's usually bold color palette to make it more approachable (though some brilliant chinos, in vermilion and gold, did sneak through). The student will wear woven Henleys, retailing for little enough to serve as an introduction to the line.
And at the other end of the spectrum, men-about-town can get made-in-New York formal suiting, courtesy of a new partnership with the revered tailor Martin Greenfield. In between came a little of everything else. If there's a complaint to be made, it's that the all-things-to-all-people approach left the collection feeling a little rudderless; it wasn't easy to connect the dots. But it was easy to pick out pieces that had great appeal, like the patch-pocket cargo pants or hand-knit sweaters with rainbow blocks. And for all the reining in and butching up—good-bye, pink suits of days gone by!—there were plenty of places where the Loden Dager smile still got smirked. A snowflake-printed jammies set, for instance, fit for a kid on Christmas morning, or a shining black motorcycle jacket, resplendent in sheared mink.