Monday, July 12, 2010

The New Urban Republic Spreads Out

By Laura Medina

Urban Republic's Peter Rhima hanging with "The Real L-Word" star, Mikey Koffman in their
URCLS04-Ivory Wovens Shirt.
Packing up for Asia, battling with a cold, and still basking in the glow of Los Angeles Fashion Weekend, Urban Republic’s Creative Director, Peter Rhima is in one heck of a good mood.
The response to the latest Fall 2010 collection has been so positive, the cold doesn’t hold him back from showing in Toyko and Hong Kong.

Marching in step with Autumn, Mr. Rhima said Urban Republic’s backbone is the military-influenced urbanwear that is distilled in a clean and lean aesthetic that will never change for its loyal fans.

Urban Republic's Military Shirt Jacket at LA Fashion Weekend Fall 2010.

But for Fall’s colder and shorter days, he’s offering a more somber color palette in burgundy for the shirts, darker shade of khaki, and the timeless black. For the colder season, he provides protection from the elements in wool jackets woven out of high gauge wool blends. For ease, fit, and movement, the woven shirts are one hundred percent cotton with spandex, warm enough to trap the body’s heat yet flexible enough to globe trek from one urban environment to another, as in Peter’s case.

For rainy days, they have windbreakers in rip-stop nylon.

To make this current crop of collection a little special, Urban Republic adds subtle custom trims in buttons and zippers. This is where Mr. Rhima stops. He absolutely prides on Urban Republic focus on longevity, quality, and authenticity-no prints.

Mr. Rhima’s pride and joy is the Nylon Quilted Flight/Bomber Jacket, diamond quilted for Fall, “Very nice jacket, goes well with the denim.”

Denim and Military wear always go hand-in-hand, according to Stylesight's menswear editor, Michael Fisher. He noted that the Flight Jacket has always been there. What is overlooked is chinos crossing over from World War II to casual mainstream since the Fifties. “Trend trackers always use it (Military wear) as fashion that “trickle up” from the streets to the runway.”

Speaking of denim and twill, Mr. Rhima, for trousers, is doing them in gray, brown, black, and drab olive green. This also connects him to his Asian trip.

While in Japan, he’s checking on the denim mills there. Like a good bottle of liquor, Mr. Rhima insists on only using premium Japanese denim. The fabric speaks for itself, again no need for screaming prints to distract folks.

Mr. Fisher verifies Urban Republic’s mission statement, “People are seeking lasting quality and longevity.” What industry professionals call, “Quiet Chic.”

Urban Republic’s style manifesto echoes the emergence of “Quiet Chic,” concentration on a cleaner construction, the quest for well-fitted clothes, what Mr. Fisher says, “The way it is supposed to look, originally meant to be” He reflects what the Urban Republic aficionada are searching for, embracing a slimmer silhouette. However, neither man would call the cut “skinny.” According to Mr. Fisher, “skinny” is a bad word in retail. Men tend to prefer the word, “fitted” or “tailored.”

“The statement we are making is “Less Is More,” Peter Rhima.

LeAnn Nealz, American Eagle Outfitters’ chief design officer, echoes that sentiment,”…military styling “feels destined to survive in your wardrobe for more than one season. It’s absolutely going to sell.” (“Fashion’s Military Invasion Rolls On.” Ruth La Ferla. The New York Times. Sunday, February 21, 2010).

With its sleeker but classic design, Urban Republic’s enthusiasts are well-traveled and culturally-attuned people who go up to age thirty-five with a fine-tuned eye for quality and details. With their unquenchable thirst for knowledge and information, much like Mr. Rhima himself, they seek stylish but timeless clothes that are functional and fashionable, with a subversive edge but durable enough dashing from one locale to another.

Speaking of subversive, Rick Klotz of Warriors of Radness, mentioned when he and his buddies were punk rockers, they used to wear military wear as a way to thumb their noses at the establishment and the Vietnam War in the Seventies. (“Fashion’s Military Invasion Rolls On.” Ruth La Ferla. The New York Times. Sunday, February 21, 2010).

Well, those same punks in the Seventies have grown into Baby Boomer hipsters with the appreciation of the finer things in life but with the same anti-establishment attitude, equipped including a shaper eye for details.

“Even fifty-five wears my stuff,” Mr. Rhima proudly muses because his customers want classically hip outfits that lets the fabrication, tailoring, and stitching scream out, not the extraneous logos or brands or unnecessary spangles and dangles that used to dominate street and urbanwear, which supports Mr. Fisher’s streetwear observations.

If you want to really want to nail Urban Republic’s aesthetic, it is “Military Contemporary,” refining it for the twenty-first century for global stylistas.

The jaunty “Tomboy Mix” is evident for Urban Republic’s women fans, he still keeps the core military pants in the same serious colors and jackets with epaulettes. But for them, Mr. Rhima makes it specially tailored for them. The quilted nylon bomber jacket is cropped then tosses in hoodies and plaid, woven shirts with stretch for an easier fit.

Mr. Rhima really hits the nail on the head by pinpointing “Tomboy Chic” among women.

During LA Fashion Week, one of his contemporaries, Raw 7, sent out slightly boxy military jackets that are nipped at the waist or under the bust line for a better fit with a wider range of movement; or a more tailored field jacket in khaki, also nipped at the waist but with a pendulum swing in the back for a more feminine feel that adjusts and wear well with existing babydoll tops and empire waist shirts.

According to J. Brand’s Jeff Rudes, the hottest item this Summer is J. Brand’s “Houlihan,” a pair of very sleek, very sex take on cargo pants in drab, regulation Army olive green, stylized with smooth cargo pockets and a tapering fit that ends with zippers on the outside of the legs. They go well with tall, boots-in black or dark brown as well with sandals and sneakers as stilettos. Fitting that they were named after “M.A.S.H.”’s sole women character, “Hot Lips Houlihan.” (“Houlihan, Reporting for Duty.” Cathy Horyn. The New York Times. May 12, 2010).

The consensus among Mr. Fisher and his associates tracking military wear among both genders is that today’s women want the same benefits as the men, well-tailored classic clothes that are durable but edgily stylish for their fast-paced lives. Also with the goal of being taken much more seriously, they’ve been mixing rugged pieces in with their more feminine outfits to balance out the overall look.

In addition, women want to enjoy the latest in fabric technology that the military has to offer for their fashionable but frantic lives, lightweight yet rugged Japanese cotton twill containing two percent Lycra.

This juxtaposition also is a witty play on strict separation on gender-based dress while toning-down an overly-sweet, girly appearance. According to Armani Exchange’s Maria Chen, chief of product development, fashion’s It Girls look incredibly hip and automatically chic by pairing a rough and tough macho field jacket or functional parka with a floaty top or a ruffled dress in dainty prints. (“Fashion’s Military Invasion Rolls On.” Ruth La Ferla. The New York Times. Sunday, February 21, 2010).

Mr. Rudes added that women wanted alternative to another pair of jeans.” (“Houlihan, Reporting for Duty.” Cathy Horyn. The New York Times. May 12, 2010).

America’s War on Terrorism with on-going battles in Afghanistan and Iraq for a decade only increases the awareness and the appreciation of battle gear and clothing, according to Commonwealth Utilities’ Andrew Keegan in Ruth La Ferla’s “Fashion’s Military Invasion Rolls On,” (Sunday, Febuary 21, 2010. The New York Times).

Peter Rhima is one of many hip fashionistas, such as Gwen Stefani of LAMB, Rag & Bone’s Marcus Wainwright jumping on the bandwagon.

Someone who is not afraid to go all out “Military Contemporary,” is Urban Republic’s biggest booster and a star of Showtime’s Summer hit, “The Real L-Word,” Mikey Koffman of The Gallery LA, one of the City of Angels’ premiere fashion promoter. She can’t get enough of the company’s military chic button-down woven shirts, jackets, and denim. Not much for fake insincerity, she calls Mr. Rhima all the time to bring her more stuff.

Urban Republic has already established itself in London and Australia. It’s stretching out into the Asian market but Mr. Rhima is wise enough to quickly point out the different categories there.

Although he’s looking forward to catering to Japan’s market because of its desire for more high-end urbanwear and premium products, Mr. Rhima is really excited about making a splash in Hong Kong. It is a bigger, more cosmopolitan market.

“The shows are huge!”

The Hong Kong fashion district is more diverse with a bigger traffic. It is also a place where he can expand into lightweight jeans, lighter ounce with more stretch. But, he is still sticking with the fitted shirts.

Clean, lean, and distilled, Urban Republic refines it then fills the global fashionistas’ thirst for the sleek and stylish.

1 comment:

josef said...

This line is sick!!!