February 05, 2014 New York
So, while Fall 2014 was very much about "American luxury" for Bastian—although, when isn't it?—he was looking at those ideas through a Japanese lens. "Reverse Take Ivy," he said, alluding to the book of photographs of Ivy League students by Teruyoshi Hayashida. Bastian wanted the nods to Japan to be subtle. In general, they weren't, but that didn't detract. A sporty zip-up sweater with Mount Fuji knitted on the back and a windbreaker made out of a dragon-embroidered vintage kimono fabric might have been literal, but they were also just the things one of those Pitti street-style stars would wear. As was a burgundy turtleneck that took thirty days to hand-knit and -bead. The Fair Isle part of the sweater was made of 150 Japanese Edo-period coins, 140 aventurine beads, eighty jade beads, and more than 600 other tiny pieces. The charm of the collection was in the details, whether it was the orange grosgrain that lined the seams of a pair of slippers designed in collaboration with Stubbs & Wootton, the tiny ribbon made out of kimono fabric fastened to the lapel of the blazers, or the fire-breathing monster stitched on a cashmere sweater.
Given that his three-year collaboration with Gant is about to end, this season marked new partnerships and deals for Bastian, including a range of Italian-made socks with Soxiety (available to preorder on soxiety.com immediately after the show); the official launch of his bag line with Fall River, Massachusetts-based Frank Clegg; and a jewelry collection by George Frost that incorporates Japanese coins and horsehair tassels. Along with these marketable endeavors, Bastian also has plans to take his brand up a notch—at least in regards to where it's placed on the sales floor. Bastian's goal is to be the leader in American luxury menswear, which means going up against Italian stalwarts like Loro Piana, Brunello Cucinelli, and Ermenegildo Zegna rather than his New York-based contemporaries whose prices are just a bit lower. "We really know this guy," Bastian said. "We feel like we can take care of him." It'll be interesting to see how well customers respond to the shift over the next couple of seasons.