Surely there must be guys out there who wear braces, other than the "wolfs" working on Wall Street or dandies from the narrow alleys of Florence? That was our thinking when we started our even deeper dive to the niche world of braces.
In the beginning of 2020 we decided to evolve our approach to the design process. Our new goal was to find people from all around the world with different and creative styles, identify interesting niche trends where we could imagine braces naturally fitting in, and finally, design new collections of braces inspired by these styles and trends. The very first of these is what we call “the selvedge style” - the world of high quality selvedge denim and inspiration from authentic workwear, with a strong sense of authenticity and heritage.
For me, as a designer, this was an interesting way to dive into the roots of the casual and practical history of mens’ fashion and at the same time the heritage of braces. I did weeks of research before starting to sketch anything; investigated the original details in vintage braces, the style of clothes, and colours and patterns on authentic elastics. Nevertheless, diving too deep into the past can be a dangerous path in design. This is because even though I would love to have the authentic vintage feeling with hand stitched leather details, real rust in the metal pieces and custom made initials in the elastics, most of us wouldn’t be willing to deal with the unpracticality or pay the price which come with these kind of details, especially with a “Made in Belgium” label.
I have always loved the history of fashion, and feel that while designing new products it is highly important to understand the reason for the existence of specific details in the original vintage pieces. Especially in menswear, most of the details are and have always been functional - not decorative. So without understanding the original function of a detail it is not possible to design a credible and long-lasting product. This is why one of the biggest challenges is to find the right balance between the heritage and history, and new details and modern materials - because let’s be honest, we still need to be fresh and serve the people of 2020 and not the man of 1892.
Craftsmanship and high-quality materials have always been key for us, but in this collection they play an even bigger role. We worked closely with our partner atelier to develop the best possible product, and during the product development phase we made several samples to reach the refined details, long-lasting quality and comfort for the use. For example, the detail of the separate leather straps attached to a brass d-ring is a common detail on vintage braces. Back in the day it offered more comfort while working in physical jobs and flexibility with the placement of the buttons. But to bring this detail up to date for to this decade, it required few samples to find the perfect shape and length of the straps and the shape and the width of the d-ring. I also decided to modify it to be changeable with our high quality German metal clips. This way you don’t have to choose between the practicality of the clip and the authentic style of the straps - you can change every day if you wish.
Of course there were few bumps on the road, as always, and this time it was the unusual events during the spring of Covid-19. This led to postponing of schedules, plenty of Skype meetings and phone calls (it is surprisingly difficult to discuss materials, details and finishings without being able to sit around the same table and look at the same sample) and sending samples and material colour cards to ensure that the design process moves ahead even though in a new, quite uncertain schedule. But being able to visit the atelier (before and after Covid-19) enabled us to really develop the braces with them and find solutions which we wouldn’t have found otherwise. This was both practical and exciting!
It took a lot of hard work and attention to detail to get there, but we are really proud of the final design of our Selvedge-collection braces and their combination of modern design and authentic details, with a link to the past, high quality materials and great craftsmanship. We hope you will like them as much as we do!
Photographer: Reydha & Sophie / Rue Valentine
Model & Styling: Thomas / Gaijin Paris