Every other Thursday, The FADER asks employees and employers at our favorite shops around the world what their most cherished in-store item is for our column Staff Affections. This week, Deidre Dyer caught up with Jey Perie of Kinfolk, the Brooklyn-by-way-of-Tokyo mini empire, to chat about their in house brand’s new seasonal staple, the summer shirt.
How did you end up working at Kinfolk? I became friends with the owners of Kinfolk in Tokyo in 2008. I helped them with a few of my press contacts when they opened their first bar in Nakameguro. When I moved to New York in 2012, they had already established their bar in Williamsburg and they asked me if I wanted to be on the team to curate both a menswear store and creative direct the Kinfolk brand. For me it was a no-brainer and I jumped onboard right away.
What is your role as the store buyer? How do you translate Kinfolk’s Tokyo origins to the Wythe Corridor? It’s a crazy directorial role where I try to bring in cultural elements I want for the brand, but also try to buy the best clothing for the neighborhood and the people around us. My goal is to be as eclectic as possible. I’ve identified three menswear styles I want to bring to the neighborhood: fashion forward designer brands, French and Japanese inspired workwear, and classic American sportswear. I really want every single man to step into the store and find one or two pieces he’ll like. I’m trying to be as inclusive as possible because I think that’s what Kinfolk is all about –we try to curate the best of all cultures, all aesthetic influences of the past ten years.
How large is Kinfolk’s in house label? Right now it’s about fifteen pieces, three types of shirts, two types of bottoms, print tees and bucket hats. It’s the first year we’ve had our own label so we’re still building all the different parts of it. It’s been doing really well though; it’s actually the top selling brand in the store. Everything is made in Los Angeles or in Manhattan and we’re really proud to work so closely with locals and develop everything here in the US.
Can you talk a little bit about the summer shirt? There was actually a really interesting creative process behind it. I had this old rendering of a bird, a really realistic design that we then asked one of our head barista, a Brooklyn based artist named Thomas Gastelum, to reinterpret into something more abstract. Thomas’ reinterpretations turned out to be amazing, beautiful colors, that we then sent to Italy to be printed on a custom Italian light white cotton fabric. We brought it back afterwards and produced the shirt here in our Manhattan factory. That’s the key piece for this summer, and it’s the one thing in the store that works for both men and women, and the only item we carry in a women’s size. A lot of women who like menswear will still shop in our store, though, because we carry a lot of Japanese brands whose smaller sizes can perfectly fit a tall American woman.
So what’s next for Kinfolk’s in house brand? We started on production for fall 2014 right now and we are still in the sampling process for spring 2015. We’re going to launch an online shop in maybe two or three weeks. We’re also expanding the bar, restaurant, and club in Los Angeles, and there will be a small auxiliary shop inside that will carry a selection of the Kinfolk line.