SOMEWHERE BETWEEN SKID ROW AND HANDSOME
A highlight of my recent trip to Los Angeles was spending the day catching up with my good friend Nate Koach. Nate owns the So-Cal clothing line and brick & mortar Sub Urban Riot. You might recognize his wares populating your tv screen or favorite fashion blog. The guys on It’s Always Sunny in Philadelphia are big SUR tee fans, and their trendy Kale sweatshirt can be found outfitting any number of slub-chick celebs.
I met Nate in 2007 while he was on a cross country roadtrip looking for boutique stores to carry his budding clothing line (SUR). Nate walked in, his friend Cooper in tow and demanded that I see their clothing line. Full disclosure, I was used to random reps or designers dropping in, completely unannounced, trying to sell me on their product. Nate was different. He wore his heart on his well-tailored sleeves and he was honest and passionate about his creations. Long story short, within a week, Sub Urban Riot was flying off of my store’s shelves.
In the Fall of 2012 Boca Restaurant Group contracted me to design uniforms for the newly opened Boca and Sotto in downtown Cincinnati. Boca was a dream project. I can’t say enough about their commitment to quality. As a wardrobe stylist it was exciting to work alongside their enthusiastic team. For their concept Sotto, a dark sexy place underneath 6th street I wanted to do something custom. So I reached out to my go-to collaborator, Nate. He was thrilled about the project and jumped right in. We used an SUR oxford shirt, designed its look and picked out custom fabric and finishes. The unique process led us to custom gingham and chambray button-downs and emroi shirts for Sotto’s serving staff. They fit well into Sotto’s modern, found-material driven aesthetic and the group was ecstatic.
My latest visit to L.A. was focused on my newest project with Boca Restaurant Group (BRG), designing uniforms for the fun "Mexican-inspired" restaurant, Nada. The restaurant group is expanding Nada to multiple cities over the next couple years and refreshing the design of their Cincinnati location. It is an exciting time to work with BRG. This time around, Nate and I are collaborating on a custom shirt and apron for Nada. Prior to arriving on the West Coast we sent fabric swatches and design ideas back and forth until we landed on the right mood for Nada’s uniform.
I caught up with Nate in L.A. to check out what’s new in his flagship store, source fabric for Nada’s aprons and discuss future design collaborations. When we arrived, I found Nate huddled over drawings, he and his business partner working on their Spring 2015 line. Their workspace is part design studio, part office and part warehouse, from sketch to delivery of goods, it all happens here. Nate and Jason are cool, ambitious yet laid back guys - there is no ego involved. Their positive outlook on life and the the fashion industry feeds our growing relationship and I look forward to many years of collaboration.
Once we got the first round on business out of the way, Nate, Erin and I went on a field trip.
First stop, Handsome Coffee in the Arts District downtown. Nate insisted that we see their aprons which are custom made by Nudie Denim. Not to mention we needed a caffeine fix. I have to say, Handsome Coffee does coffee and vibe just right. After some lengthy deliberation on Twitter and the L.A. food and art scene, we set back out on our path to find the perfect apron fabric.
Somewhere between Skid Row and the coffee shop, we found the fabric suppliers. What fun to finally put a name and a face to the people from whom I have purchased thousands of yards of fabric. Back in Cincinnati, when I look for new fabric, Nate ships me boxes full of fabric headers to study. This time, we could pile through the samples together, in real time as a team. I came out the field trip with possibilities to take this apron in a whole new direction. A restaurant apron may not seem worthy of a blog, but to me every detail of an outfit, whether business or personal, can be a decision well made. One that exudes confidence and personality.
I look forward to the next adventure with Nate and the SUR team. Check out my Instagram posts as we begin to finish the design and production of Nada’s new uniform! The uniform drops Fall 2014.