It's been scarily sad to hear one designer after another pull out of New York Fashion Week, with only a matter of weeks left on the clock. Thankfully there a few designers out there who have plenty of reasons to be popping bottles right now, like LA-based menswear label Corpus who recently got word of their Ecco Domani award, a $25,000 grant that only seven emerging designers get their hands on every year. Corpus first caught our attention with their awesome denim fits and low-key treatments many seasons ago and have steadily built the line with a certain laid-back, carefree distinction. We stole a moment with one half of Corpus, Keith Richardson, earlier this week to congratulate him on the win and see how all the new-found crazy-hectic Fashion Week prep was going.
Congrats on the award. How does it feel?
We honestly didn’t expect this. We weren’t even going to enter for it because we never really thought we were in the running for that stuff. It was just one of those things, like what the hell, we’ll give it a shot. Not a lot of LA brands win this award so it’s really cool. It’s an honor. I still don’t really believe it.
Are you excited about the idea of a show?
We’ve never done anything like this before, so we obviously have to think on a different scale. We don’t have a lot of time to get into doing it since we weren’t planning to show this season. The hardest part is we don’t live in New York—it’s gonna be tough but we’ll work it out.
So have you been kicking around any ideas for the presentation?
Well yes, but it all really depends on the venue. We’re almost banking on finding a space first and then plugging in a few ballpark ideas.
We won’t make you spill the beans on it then! What were you thinking about when you were designing the fall line?
It’s an extension of what Corpus has been in the past, but maybe a little bit more grungy. It’s still the preppyish, school thing that we do, but with a twist. It’s also darker than we normally do in terms of color.
Do you think that has something to do with the times?
Yeah maybe, it definitely wasn’t a conscious thing though. We kind of wanted to get back to some of our core customers—the guys that we started with, more on a street-level versus preppy wear and the more conservative stuff. It’s a little edgier this time I think.
Sometimes it’s nice to go back to the core of what the brand is all about.
I think we were kind of put into this hipster category of skinny jeans and tanks tops and fedoras—the whole Pete Doherty thing that was going on years ago—which was fine. But we wanted to get the brand a little older feeling, with more emphasis on fabrics and cleaner tailoring.
We’ve always liked the attention to detail off your clothes—down to the buttons and the off-kilter T-shirt pockets on the spring ’09 collection. How important are those details in the design process?
I grew up on Ralph Lauren. That’s my favorite stuff—classic preppy menswear. I grew up in Texas and I’m 35 years old and that was the stuff. Even back then we would try and wear it our way, but obviously I wasn’t sewing so I couldn’t change anything. Now, doing the collection it leans towards that aesthetic and we make it ours through the fit and the detail. Instead of a regular T-shirt it’s a linen T-shirt, and it has an angle work pocket—little details where you would least expect them. From day one we’ve tried to pay a lot of attention to that stuff—but not too much, you don’t want to go crazy on it and end up with a science project.
What’s it like being a designer in LA? What’s it about the city that makes it the right home for Corpus?
Initially it was because we started with denim and T-shirts. The wash houses for denim and all those facilities are here more so then out on the east coast. LA is really good for denim treatment. Now that we've gotten to the point that we do more than just denim there are problems sometimes, for example if we want to make a handbag or shoes. It would be nice to live in New York and be able to do that, but for the denim I don’t know—we have our own manufacturing facility and in New York I don’t know that we’d be able to do that. I also think that being in LA adds something to the line. I don’t know that the line would look the same if we were based on the east coast.
Where would you hope to see things going with Corpus?
I’ve always wanted to have a store—perhaps a store here and a store in New York. It would allow us to do things that we might not do on a large scale, like shoes and other accessories. Also I have fabric from all over the place—like 50 meters of a fabric that’s 100 years old and I can’t get it again—it would be nice to be able to make things on a smaller run and put them in our space versus a store that only buys part of the collection. Outside of that, we really want to expand on the women’s stuff. We’re going to be showing women’s pieces in the presentation. I’m really into it.