Rag & bone co-designers David Neville and Marcus Wainwright have come a long way since they started working together in 2002, holing up in a denim factory in Kentucky and learning pattern-making and construction from scratch. This month, the pair won the Menswear Designer of the Year award for their impeccable blend of American workwear and English tailoring. “Having no fashion training, we’ve always approached the brand from a very different standpoint than anyone else,” says Wainwright. “It’s really based on beautiful clothes — how they’re made, and what they’re made of — rather than trying to be fashionable and trend-driven.”
Their scope continues to grow: Next month, the duo will launch their fourth Manhattan store in the former Café Colonial space. We talked to the guys about their CFDA win, meeting Ralph Lauren (“pretty scary”), and scoping out hipster street style.
Were you surprised to win Menswear Designer of the Year?
DN: I try to be optimistic, but I did think Tom Ford might edge us. It was pretty exciting. I just remember my wife screaming a lot, then Marcus and I were ambling down the stairs.
MW: It was very surreal to win and then have to get up in front of all those people and say something vaguely entertaining. But we kept it short — we weren’t waiting for the violins to start playing.
Any perks of being a CFDA winner?
MW: Well, we were hoping for a free Jaguar [sponsor of the CFDA Awards this year]. But you do get a really nice trophy.
DN: Plus, it looks good on the C.V.
Who are your favorite designers?
MW: I love Japanese menswear designers like Undercover, N.Hoolywood, White Mountaineering, and Visvim. Unfortunately, it’s really hard to buy outside of Asia, and none of it fits me.
DN: You gotta love Ralph Lauren. He’s superseded everything he’s ever done — he’s become the brand. We’ve actually been lucky enough to meet him.
What was that like?
MW: It was pretty scary the first time.
DN: Well, you’ve seen the store; you can imagine it. It’s a great mansion; you go through various antechambers, then, suddenly, there’s Ralph.
Looks from rag & bone’s fall 2010 menswear collection.Photo: Imaxtree.