It was a family affair at The Nice Guy on Thursday night.
The L.A.-born-and-bred crew behind Vayder — the new men’s brand — threw a party in their hometown to celebrate their launch: Jon Geller, Adam McCowan, Jeffrey Azoff and Shawn Holiday.
More from WWD
“Everyone involved has been a friend of mine since we were literally children,” said Geller, the man behind the vision.
He tapped McCowan as designer, after they previously worked together at Paige; Geller is its men’s director, a 15-year veteran at the denim company and stepson of founder Paige Adams-Geller. Reuniting for the new endeavor, they teamed with music executives Azoff and Holiday.
“It’s been two years in the works, so to be here now is really exciting,” Geller continued.
Azoff (of Full Stop Management, with clients who include Harry Styles) and Holiday (a longtime music executive) have been “a sounding board,” he said. “Most of all, I just trust Jeff and Shawn to give me fantastic advice. Their networks, whether we’re looking for a space to shoot, a place to host a party, artists, musicians, models, whatever it may be, their network is world class.”
The place to party was The Nice Guy, it seems, bringing out Offset, Sway Lee, Jaden Smith, Ben Harper and Mike Will Made It.
“The product so far has been checking in a massive way,” said Geller. “We haven’t really rolled out the marketing in any way yet. We really wanted to kind of go product-forward and let the stuff tell the story itself.”
The focus is on denim, with graphic T-shirts and brand-embroidered outerwear — including sweatshirts and a letterman jacket fit for cooler nights in Los Angeles.
After debuting at Selfridges, Vayder launched in the U.S. at Saks Fifth Avenue a month ago. In February, the brand enters Nordstrom and Bloomingdale’s. But first comes Harrods in December.
“I have incredible relationships with many, many retailers, but the ones with Selfridges and Harrods in particular are really special,” Geller said of putting initial attention on the U.K. “In our previous business [at Paige], I saw what happened when we went and really worked on the U.K. market and how it helped us launch elsewhere, even domestically and in other parts of Europe.”
After a month at Saks, in L.A., New York and Atlanta, “the sales have been beyond our wildest dreams,” he added, singling out the latter as their bestselling market. “And what’s amazing about it is, it’s product-driven. It’s people loving the product.”
They looked to elevate the styles of their childhoods seen in the streets of L.A. in the ’90s.
“What was streetwear then isn’t necessarily what people consider streetwear now,” Geller said. “This luxury crossover with streetwear that’s happened over the last 10, 15 years has been fantastic. But I wanted to kind of go back to the roots, at least the roots for me, and sort of say, ‘OK, if you were my age, and you lived through that, what is the classic take on it?’”
It’s shifting the silhouette — wider trousers, oversize fits — while prioritizing quality, with materials sourced from Italy: “A little bit more classic and long-term, not so novelty-driven, not so loud and in your face.”
The loudest element is the graphics, created by photographer Michael Muller.
“Michael has captured this era we’ve been speaking about,” said Geller. “He was exactly that creative, rebel renaissance man that we were talking about. He came on board as our visual director. He shot our entire launch campaign, and then he opened up his entire photo library to us. How do you make graphics luxury? It’s a $40,000 print on a T-shirt that Michael’s given us access to.”
It brings the entire vision to life, he said. “I can’t think of a better way to elevate graphics than working with a true artist.”
And the vision is ambitious: “When we were meeting with our financiers a long time ago, they said, ‘OK, 10 years from now, what clothing brand do you want to be?’ And I said, ‘I want to be Red Bull. I don’t want to be another clothing brand.’”
Best of WWD