“New York is in the midst of an exciting moment for menswear,” says Greg Rosborough, one half of the design duo behind Abasi Rosborough. “As a reaction to all of the classicism and Americana that New York menswear has long been associated with, a new cohort of menswear designers is bubbling up. The old rules are being extinguished, and instead of looking to the past for inspiration, we and other designers are looking forward.”
Rosborough and his partner, Abdul Abasi, met while studying menswear design at FIT. The two know a good deal about menswear, Americana, and New York: Rosborough got his start as a designer at Ralph Lauren, while Abasi cut his teeth at Patrik Ervell before moving on to join the Engineered Garments team. They base their operation in Brooklyn and make all of their clothes in New York. The collection they design together is a hybrid of traditional tailoring and completely original design, though the exact genre is difficult to pinpoint—something like medieval activewear (imagine what a world-class jouster might wear under his armor) meets the slick, functional look of intergalactic military uniforms of the future.
“The reason our clothes may appear futuristic is because we are surrounded by traditional menswear clothing, in which the designs are from the 19th century, not the 21st,” says Rosborough. “Our collection may appear more forward, but only in the same way that a smartphone appears more futuristic than a rotary phone.”
For Fall 2014, as seen in this exclusive editorial for Style.com, functional details abound, like taped seams, interior shoulder straps, and underarm and crotch inserts for mobility. Fabrics look space-age but are all natural—even the wool blend that feels like wet suit material. And lots of inspiration is taken from one of the oldest, most influential menswear designers in history: the military.
“Trenchcoats, bomber jackets, cargo pants, T-shirts, boots, and even the suit are all literal or derivative military garments,” says Rosborough. “On the one hand, military dress is the epitome of masculinity, and so men gravitate toward that. On the other hand, military clothing is designed with functionality and practicality in mind—it just works. And men love that, too.”
Abasi spent seven years in the U.S. military. “I came to appreciate how each garment had a specific purpose and reason for being—nothing superfluous. Design details had merit and utility,” he says.
In New York, menswear is reaching its adolescence, that age when it’s starting to figure out what it wants to be when it grows up. NYFW may not be ready for a men’s week just yet (the discussion is ongoing), but with London setting a good example for what it could be and emerging labels like Telfar, En Noir, and Hood by Air challenging the status quo, there is hope.
“It’s exciting,” says Rosborough. “You can feel that the world is watching to see what’s coming out of New York.”