Joshua Katcher is a fashion designer, entrepreneur and activist, who runs his own boutique, Brave Gentleman, in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn. The store–which stocks his own vegan smart and cool menswear brand only–was inaugurated in July 2017 during New York Menswear Week. (Katcher previously tested his retail concept in 2015 via a pop-up store in the same neighborhood but that shop was kept open for just six months.) “Fashion is seductive, aspirational and immediate,” he explains. “The beauty of a fashion object can reflect the beauty of how it is made. Therefore we must also use beauty–like a cool pair of shoes or an amazing suit–to prove that an ethical lifestyle can be fun, sexy and powerful.”
What are the current bestsellers of your store and your brand? Why?
Footwear, bags and moto jackets are our bestsellers. They are successful because many people are looking for these products, though it’s difficult to find sustainable and vegan versions that are both made to last and while employing high-quality materials.
How do you sell your brand?
Currently we sell it through out of our flagship store in Brooklyn, NY, on our online shop, and we have just started a relationship with Net-A-Porter/Yoox.com. I hope it will be an exciting collaboration!
Are people interested in buying vegan and sustainable clothes today? Why?
Absolutely. I think people are realizing more and more that fashion is not trivial, and it has enormous global impacts. It's also the way in which we choose how we want to be perceived, and with whom we feel aligned. Even people who consider themselves "anti-fashion" still participate in the fashion system. The growing desire for vegan and sustainable fashion shows a shift through which people, especially younger ones, want their visual identity to match their values in order to participate in supporting systems they want to see flourish. We know so much more today about how things are made, and we can see how that is affecting our buying habits.
Vegan, sustainable fashion is an argument and solution that is aesthetically rational. The beauty of a fashion object can reflect the beauty of how it is made. Therefore we must also use beauty–like a cool pair of shoes or an amazing suit - to prove that an ethical lifestyle can be fun, sexy and powerful.
In a moment when customers are often more attracted by price than by brand and quality, what convinces customers to buy your brand?
Brave Gentleman is concerned with quality and longevity. Our customers are willing to spend a little bit more on something with classic aesthetics that will not go out of style and with high-tech, sustainable and vegan materials that outperform the conventional materials often used in fast fashion.
Our customers are loyal and diverse–we sell to people all over the world. I think people are also drawn to our brand story, which is an honest story about how things are made, as opposed to some marketed mythology.
What materials do you employ?
My brand employs high-tech Italian microfibers, digital printed dyes and organic cotton and linen. In addition I have developed unique, innovative materials such as, for instance, “Future Leather” made from a durable, weather resistant, high-tech microfiber material that is EU-Ecolabel Certified.
I also employ “Future Wool,” a special fabric made from Brazilian tweeds and twills using recycled cotton, recycled polyester and recycled plastic bottles pulled from waste streams. Shirts are made with organic cotton and buttons are made from corozo, also known as tagua nut. Also the dyes I employ are low-impact. All the materials I choose meet standards of Oeko-Tex Standard 100, and are all manufactured in NYC’s garment district.
Will sustainable fashion become mainstream in the future? And how can consciousness be raised more effectively?
I don’t think we have much of a choice, though I certainly hope so. I think that sustainable fashion needs to be, first and foremost, good design. There are always a few customers willing to buy something just because it is sustainable, but if we want to go after customers who would not otherwise seek out sustainable, ethical or vegan fashion. It has to be desirable, aspirational, exciting, and high-quality–perhaps it even needs to feel slightly transgressive. There is not much sexiness in the current sustainable fashion movement; most of it is very wholesome and do-gooder oriented. It needs to be much more exciting! Look at Tesla and Stella McCartney– they’re doing it right!
How do you inform yourself about trends, new sustainable, animal-free materials and developments?
Research, research, research. I go to trade shows, I read textile news and fashion news, and I don’t give up when I’m looking for something. In fact, I just finished writing a book called Fashion Animals that will hopefully be released in 2018.
How important is communication with regular customers? How do you communicate with them?
We do it directly through social media and e-mail. I think traditional advertising is becoming obsolete.
What will the collections you offer for next s/s 2018 look like? And what are the most important trends, in general?
Our spring 2018 collection has some really fine, oversize snake and leaf prints in matching shirt/shorts/pants combinations. We will also offer some great vegan future-suede moto vests and bomber jackets. We try to avoid too much focus on trends. I prefer to stick to classics and just whatever I like to design! I also like to think of the best ways to incorporate new materials.
Did you add any new product category to your assortment recently?
We started making some athletic accessories like CrossFit grips! I’d like to do a full line of atheltic-wear.
How does your store differ from other stores?
We are the world's first vegan menswear store and we make most of our products in gender-neutral sizing.
What do you like about your customers?
They are loyal, they are smart and they are genuinely interested in how we make our products.
How important is the interior, the atmosphere and the whole package?
It is crucial! From the music we play to the candles we burn to the way we display our window–every detail should be enjoyable and memorable, but also have a feeling of timelessness.
367 Graham Avenue
Brooklyn, New York 11211
+1 347689 3873