Today in The Thought Kitchen, we sit down with our Director of Design Peter Kallen to talk about the new Shroud of Purrin jackets and blazers. For the complete Design Eye series, click here. [http://blog.nau.com/?s=design+eye+peter]
The Thought Kitchen: Nau has a lot of unique fabrics, but the Shroud Of Purrin is particularly special. What were the design goals you had in making it?
Peter Kallen: We created this fabric to up the ante of the softshell world by merging the softshell concept with a beautiful, ‘luxxy’ interior—The Shroud of Purrin has this soft, kitten-like fur feel on the inside. So it’s ideal to take that fabric and apply it to these two new styles, which definitely blur the boundaries between urban and outdoor.
TTK: What makes this fabric appropriate for an urban, fashion forward style?
PK: The intent behind softshell is just that: a soft shell. What was rigid and hard and crunchy about a hardshell wasn’t very approachable; it was always treated as something for protection first. What this does is to soften that; it just becomes this much more refined jacket with a softer hand and a much more refined drape to it, as opposed to the crunch bend that a hardshell would have. The combination of softshell technology and distinct tailoring make these styles the perfect application of beauty and performance.
PK: On the men’s side, you have the Shroud of Purrin Blazer, which takes a blazer in a completely different zone than any blazer you’ve seen out there. It’s incredibly useful on the bike, in the city, any time when a blazer doesn’t offer enough warmth but an overcoat is overkill. And then on the women’s side, we’ve taken our popular Shroud of Purrin Trench—this modern, sculpted, very sexy trench that shadows a women’s body—and taken the cues from that trench and made a shorter length jacket that has the same tone and sensibility. It has this really beautiful high collar that you can fold down to create this beautiful lapel-like treatment, but can also be put up for a very dramatic high collar that you can snug into to get away from the weather.
TTK: How do you reconcile the outdoor and fashion elements of your designs?
PK: We live in these two worlds, the fashion and the outdoor world, and they both have very different mindsets to them, very different cues and standards. In the outdoor world, people generally resonate with more technical features and things that would be considered ‘protective’. In the fashion world, the cues are based on the look, the style, the fit, the feel, the hand; fifth or so down the line is that it will keep them dry. The Shroud of Purrin blazer and jacket blur both of these worlds perfectly, they have the outdoor cues of blocking the wind and keeping the elements away from you, but on the fashion side they have this really beautiful soft hand, this luxurious lining, and amazing fit and style.
TTK: Are there designers you look to for inspiration around how fashion and performance can work together?
PK: There’s a lot of beautiful design that has happened over the years. On the fashion side, I think what Neil Barrett did with Prada Sport was really amazing, because he touched on this sensibility of technology being fashionable. Prior to that, years and years ago, the sensibility of function from the workwear perspective has always been really interesting. You know, what Levis, or Lee Jeans, or any of the other workwear companies did making these really durable, useful, great pieces that were intended just for performance—not recreation performance, but everyday performance. But I can’t say that anybody’s successfully done this mashup of technology and fashion where they consider both equally. Of course fashion, like art, is in the eyes of the beholder, but I think that we have a very distinct style and tone to our collection, and these two pieces really represent a style and tone that’s a beautiful collision of fashion and technology, very minimal, very confident. I think the exploratory merge of technology and fashion will continue to inspire directions for what companies can and might do down the road.
PK: I think it’s a bit about living your life outside the lines. If there’s something that’s so standardized in our world as a blazer, then what does it mean to reinterpret that? That’s how I came up with the ideas and concepts for these pieces: we had this really beautiful fabric, I veered from the path, borrowed from other areas and reinterpreted what a blazer could be. You take something that’s classic and understood, then tweak the style and put an unexpected fabric in it based on true performance, and see what you can come up with.
TTK: How do you know if you’ve succeeded?
PK: For me personally, my success is directly related to ones reactions to the styles, the best reaction is when people put them on and they can’t imagine not having them in their wardrobe. They imagine living in them. They say, ‘I can see myself riding my bike in this one, it’s going to be perfect for when I commute to work’, or ‘This is going to be great, I live in the city and it’s going to be the ideal style that protects me from the tricks the weather will play on me, and makes me look smoking hot in the process!’ That, to me, is the ultimate. At the end of the day, yeah, you love to see them flying off the shelves. But I like hearing the personal stories, how people will integrate them into their wardrobe, and make them a key component of their wardrobe. Potentially a favorite piece they ‘can’t live without’. To say that we can create wardrobe confidence; that, to me, brings a smile.