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July 23 2014

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EXCLUSIVE: Mark McNairy Returns to Woolrich Woolen Mills for Fall 2014

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Mark McNairy for Woolrich

“Hunting in Space.”

That’s what Mark McNairy says he had in mind when designing his Fall 2014 Woolrich Woolen Mills collection. After a one-season hiatus from helming the heritage brand’s designer collection, McNairy is back to updating Americana, and he says it’s like he never left. “We only missed one season, so I guess I had plenty of other things to keep me busy,” he says.

For McNairy, whose ongoing Mark McNairy New Amsterdam collection deftly mashes Ivy League prep with irreverent streetwear, WWM is a somewhat easier proposition because of the guidelines that come with the brand’s 184-year legacy.

“Doing my collection is a free-for-all,” he says. “When I do my line, I really don’t start with anything in mind, I just make a bunch of seemingly unrelated things, and then at the end I put them all together. When I shoot the lookbook, that’s when it becomes a collection. I really don’t have any theme or idea that I’m working on. For Woolrich, I have to start with something.”

Mark McNairy for Woolrich

With WWM, that means drawing from the brand’s strong history making outerwear for hunting and fishing. It’s there that McNairy’s skills as a remixer of Americana really shine. A rain slicker is reimagined in stark white ballistic nylon, a classic American varsity jacket gets vibrant red sleeves, and a tailored wool coat in tonal shades of gray really does look appropriate for outer space.

McNairy’s much-hyped New York fashion week shows often feature celebrity runway cameos, rappers Danny Brown, Pusha T, and Cam’ron among them. Who then would he like to have sporting his new WWM outing? “Eddie Vedder. He seems to me to fit with the modern image of Woolrich and what I want to do with it.”

Mark McNairy for Woolrich

What’s the modern image of Woolrich? I ask.

“Oh, boy, don’t make me fucking explain this.”

OK, I say, I’ll take a stab at it. It’s like the hunting-on-the-moon thing. Every menswear concept from the last two hundred years has been rediscovered and reappropriated in so many different ways, it wouldn’t be out of place to see Woolrich’s signature buffalo check plaid and wilderness-ready outerwear anywhere, not in the city, the suburbs, or, even, on the moon. How Eddie Vedder fits into that is anyone’s guess, but McNairy seems satisfied with my answer.

“Exactly,” he says. “Would you like a position as my publicist?”

Photos: Courtesy Photos