Early spring, Ann Arbor, Michigan
SINCE: October, 2007
FOUNDED BY: Jamie Rupp
HOME BASE: Bexley, Ohio
WHY WE CO-SIGN: Menswear labels have been churning out their version of workwear-inspired apparel but some lack the critical element that Relwen has in scads: authenticity. The brand was born out of and continues to be inspired by the surrounding farms and fields of Ohio and Michigan, and naturally, function and durability are at the forefront of Relwen's philosophy. The cursory glance might harken an Abercrombie & Fitch but there's no over-designing, branding, elaborate catalogues, and treacly hype here. Relwen focuses on quality not image. And that we can definitely get on board with.
Keep reading for our interview with Jamie Rupp as well as our picks from Relwen's spring 2010 collection...
Complex: Heard you got a ton of powder in Ohio late winter, what got you through those snow days?
Jamie: A sturdy shovel. We got 20" these past several weeks but I enjoy the workout; Patagonia hooded softshell, body-conscious thermal jacket-Schoeller fabric—technical layering that's highly versatile, and very practical. And a single speed bike with Pedro's Chain Ice Wax. Riding is important year-round to keep the mind and body in balance, but it is particularly challenging this time of year and the chain wax keeps out the salt and road grime.
Complex: That's a pretty thorough list. Sounds like your personal experiences and lifestyle contribute heavily to Relwen's gear.
Jamie: I've been around high quality clothing all my life since my parents were in the clothing business and had a real passion for aesthetics.
Complex: What's your earliest style memory?
Jamie: My first inclination to having something special was in first grade, getting the Adidas sneakers that I had to have—the 3 stripes, although my mom failed me and bought a 4 stripe knock-off—I still loved them. And then everything I wore, as my grade school pictures reflect, was crocodile-driven (from pique to velour). Lacoste and Levi's jeans were my uniform. This was the '70s.
Complex: It was good to have a classic uniform in the '70s. Less casualties that way. Let's talk about a bit about Relwen's spring 2010 collection. What's your favorite piece and why?
Jamie: The 2-ply, 12-gauge Mock Henley merino sweater. It's just so easy and functional, and it has become a real trademark for how I like to dress. I can wear it to dinner or on my bike, and it completely transcends my lifestyle.
Complex: More on the brand, are there any special projects/collaborations you'd like us to know about?
Jamie: Our newest venture is the launching of Relwen Women's for Fall 2010. The line draws from the same inspiration as men's but through a feminine lens, where the details are more subtle and refined along with the fit. Our message is effortless charm.
Complex: An evergreen look for the ladies... Lastly, what can we expect in your next collection?
Jamie: My collection is pretty faithful to the utilitarian sense of style based in the Midwest. The coasts think we're all farmers and a bit of this is true, but it's also the part of the story with some of the best style sense. A meshing of the most honest clothing from both military and workwear roots is what inspires my ideals for what is masculine apparel, and what I hope resonates within Relwen.
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