Max Gross was a major sneakerhead growing up in Maryland, where strapping rubber bands around baggy jeans at the ankle to show off fresh kicks was the norm among his high school friends. As Gross matured from FUBU and Tommy Hilfiger to Lanvin and Acne, his affinity for the cropped look remained and, after moving to New York, he debuted his own label Proper Gang, hoping to combine his childhood love for streetwear with his grown-up taste for tighter men’s tailoring. “Thom Browne makes the gray suit casual by playing with proportions,” says Gross, referring to the New York designer’s famous trousers, which hit perilously high on the shin. “I make streetwear formal by doing the same thing.” And it’s not just pants. Employing top-notch fabrics, Proper Gang’s bevy of tees, jackets and tunics all get the slightly shrunken treatment, leading the streetwear crowd beyond its traditionally baggy insouciance to a European minimalism informed by forward-thinking high fashion brands. Still, as with any uncharted terrain, dangers lurk: the hem of one Proper Gang shirt is raised so high that it creeps up the stomach, exposing the belly button if you’re not careful. In this case, though, short cuts are the quickest way to brave new style heights.
Styling Deidre Dyer. Model Taras at Re:Quest models. All clothes Proper Gang, shoes Dr. Martens. Styling assistance Dennine Dyer.