When OYL hero Matt Berninger employs his listener to "cover me in rag and bone" in a recent song, I can't confirm that he's talking about the increasingly popular design company. Probably he's not, and probably he's just hinting at a little self-destructive impulse, asking someone to just please slather him with trash and compost (the song's called "Sorrow," after all). Still, you never know -- dude's a well-dressed man.
rag & bone (caps lock must be turned off for the name, lest we slip into HEDONISTIC EXCESS) has been around for almost a decade now, racking up attention and awards. They're based out of, who knew, New York, though they started in the distant borough of Kentucky (bridge-and-tunnel-and-systemic-economic-disenfranchisement crowd). What they do, more or less, is the kind of disarmingly simple, vaguely militaristic, old London-inspired clothing that's the tip of everyone's bowler at the moment.
Check the rolled trousers, perfect for sidestepping the human waste of the lower classes on High Street (can a bloke just get to the bloody haberdashery, please?!). I love most of the pieces in their newest collection, though I'm not quite sure they fit the company's manifesto of making clothing for the day-to-day needs of the masses. Don't be fooled by the Holmesian (Sherlock, not Oliver Wendall) affectations, here. After all, these are Southern boys at heart, with no "formal fashion training" who made a start-up company and saw wild success, in a finely American pull-up-your-preposterously-expensive-bootstraps tradition. That being said, I'd feel a little ostentatious in some of these garments, which is to say they're erring on the side of high fashion rather than friendly consumption (navy tailcoat, anyone?) -- but then again, runway shows have their own goals and designs (sorry), while storefront operations have theirs.
What I do like are the shirts. I would wear these shirts. Unfortunately, they are for ladies. You might not know it at first, since rag & bone's military or blue collar bent shows up in its women's line, as well. Still, the designs -- simple, classic Americana -- are enviable, even for a hypermasculine, testosterone-drenched, football-leather-chewing man like myself:
That first shirt is made of chambray (or cambric), a tough but soft classic workshirt fabric that I'm happy to see coming back around to collections from the runways to rag & bone to J. Crew and Gap. Steve McQueen would be proud of rag & bone here, if Steve McQueen was into ambiguously crossdressing. Were he alive today, he just might have been, folks, he just might have been.