The Corpus Duo Likes Their Schoolboy Style Tinged With Hipster Grunge

Corpus co-designers Keith Richardson and Jerrod Cornish originally met on a film set in L.A., where Cornish was acting and Richardson was styling. They hit it off and founded their preppy label in 2004, starting out with printed tees and graduating to a range of rolled-up jeans, rumpled button-downs, slouchy cardigans, and skinny ties that were scooped up by Barneys, Steven Alan, and Oak. Last summer, the duo designed a spinoff line for Urban Outfitters, byCORPUS, and they recently won the 2009 Ecco Domani Fashion Foundation Award. We caught up with the designers in the midst of Fashion Week to discuss their unabated idolatry of Ralph Lauren and their new twist on American prep.

What’s the inspiration behind your fall collection?
KR: It’s fifties-inspired. I grew up in a super-preppy part of Texas, so our collections always have that preppy university thing going on, but it’s mixed with a darker, rock and roll vibe.
JC: There’s also a grunge element to it, like 1992 Marc Jacobs, with a lot of plaids and tailored shirting. It’s all about taking classic pieces and twisting them a bit, like a hybrid of a motorcycle jacket and a blazer.

What kind of a person wears your designs?
JC: Historically, we’ve always appealed to hipster kids, but we don’t specifically design for hipsters. A guy has to have his own sense of style and taste to appreciate the details of our clothes. There isn’t a lot of embellishment — it’s more about what’s left off the garment than what’s put on it.
KR: Even though we have a fashion-y, high-end look, it’s still accessible.

Who are your favorite designers?
KR: Ralph Lauren has created such an amazing brand. It’s classic, it’s easy, and everyone can wear it. My dad, my nephew, and I all own the same Ralph Lauren shirt. It still looks good.
JC: You can’t compete with him — he’s done so well across so many categories. Also, Margiela is amazing. He’s so progressive and just has such a unique spin.

A look from the spring 2009 collection.Photo: Melissa Hom

What’s the first designer item you bought?
KR: A Ralph Lauren polo shirt.
JC: A Gucci belt. It was probably the only thing I could afford.

Where do you shop in New York?
KR: Opening Ceremony, Bblessing, Odin, and a lot of the vintage archives, like What Comes Around Goes Around.
JC: When you make clothes, it’s hard to justify going out and buying them. But we always do a walking tour around the city for inspiration — places like Rick Owens and Jil Sander.

What trends are you appreciating right now?
KR: I’m liking the whole plaid crush. And I like mixing New York style, like old-school shirting and black jeans, with the L.A. color culture.

What are you coveting right now?
KR: An old-school film camera. There’s something about the look of film that you can’t re-create with a digital camera.
JC: I actually just bought a Thom Browne suit. It’s slim fitting, like Corpus, with a high arm hole and short cuffs.

What should every guy have in his closet?
KR: A classic blue-and-white pinstriped button-down shirt. It pretty much works with anything.
JC: A nice blazer that goes from day to night. Something basic that you can travel in; I’m not talking satin lapels or anything.

What’s something you never leave the house without?
JC: My black vintage Persol sunglasses. They look like a Cadillac from the fifties; they’re pretty dope. I probably haven’t left the house without them for four years.
KR: My keys, my iPod, my wallet, and a cup of coffee … I don’t have a trusty pair of scissors or anything.

The Corpus Duo Likes Their Schoolboy Style Tinged With Hipster Grunge