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Number:Lab Gives Athletic Wear a Fancy Physical Education

photographer Ian Baguskas

A lot of contemporary menswear just isn’t that contemporary. As we enter a half decade’s worth of nostalgic prep and trad styles, many a man is left wondering, How soon is now? Admit it dudes: there’s something truly odd about a near-period-piece ’60s-ensembled gent pulling out a glossy buttonless phone to check into some near-term-future hivemind. No one’s asking for a full Spacely Sprockets kit, but it’s as though digital technology flies by while we all sit unmoving, like cavemen in loincloths poking at typewriters.

That’s where Number:Lab designer Luis Fernandez enters, like a 2001: A Space Odyssey monolith, stirring the neanderthal pot and trying to anticipate the direction menswear is heading. He’s crafted a line of athletically-minded sportswear that embraces new fabric technologies instead of looking to the past for direction. “There is much more of this modernistic phenomenon lurking,” says Fernandez. “Looking at the mills, they’re focusing more on technical aspects, so the next collections are going to [have even] more directional shift towards those tech fabrics.”

Fernandez’ ability to expertly wrestle with both function and fit comes from years spent practicing architecture. A fan of architects Herzog & de Meuron and Calvin Klein designer Italo Zucchelli equally, he crossed over his design focus to engineer the tailored cuts and smart production that define his label’s offering. To be clear, this isn’t just trumped-up gym clothes. Fernandez puts it best: “If we do something that’s tailored, we try to put a spin on it that is athletic, if it is athletic, it gets a tailored spin.”

For fall, Fernandez’ vision taps into a pair of key inspirations: Alpine ski jumping and the Colorado Air Force Academy. “It’s the rigidity and the details,” he says. The collection is a cross between the practical needs of the pro slopes with a cadet’s dignified, gussied up formal wear. “Cool tech and other smart fabrics and details [aren’t exclusive to] sporting,” Fernandez says. “Those fabrics can be worn out, worn with a tie. It’s not just Under Armour and underwear anymore.” The neon green sleeveless tanks and grey cotton track pants would be ideal to pack in your gym bag, yes, but plenty of the soft breathable, Pima cotton oxford shirts would feel just as inviting under a sport coat. It’s the verstaility, not just the tech, that makes Number:Lab so easy to integrate into your wardrobe. In fact, it’s so blindly simple that even a caveman could do it.

Model Eduardo Calero at Re:Quest Models.

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Number:Lab Gives Athletic Wear a Fancy Physical Education