Jeffrey Rüdes knows how to throw a party. Though he had already showed his latest collection in Paris more than a week prior, an early evening event in his Soho store with racks of gorgeous clothes and unlimited glasses of champagne provided an opportunity for those who couldn’t make the trip across the Atlantic to see everything from his fourth presentation up close.
Rüdes’ name may not immediately ring a bell to many outside of fashion, but they’ve surely heard about his past wildly successful business ventures, most notably J Brand Jeans (guess where the ‘J’ comes from). His namesake label was only launched in 2015, but you would never know it by glancing around the shop where one is almost overwhelmed by the exceptionally sharp editing that only someone with years of tested experience in the field can produce.
Every category from pants to dress shirts is covered, but the tailored jacket is really at the heart of everything Rüdes does. No matter their fabrication, they are all exquisitely fitted with a shoulder-broadening, waist-slimming silhouette. And the more I thought about it, the more it made sense. Much like a perfect pair of jeans acts as a wardrobe foundation that goes with nearly everything, a perfect jacket can be buttoned or unbuttoned, have the sleeves rakishly rolled up or kept down and be put over a cashmere turtleneck as effortlessly as a soft silk shirt. Upon the label’s launch, Rüdes told Vogue Runway’s Nicole Phelps, “The collection is built around how I dress,” and his unique sense of polished California ease has translated beautifully though a palm tree-printed white sweater may have been a bit literal.
There’s something of the 70s in Rüdes’ clothes. The aesthetic is incredibly long and lean with trousers that alternate between impossibly skinny and slightly flared in a way that doesn’t feel overly nostalgic. Each piece seemed incredibly touchable, covetable even, with the buttery texture of leather and cozy softness of velvet throughout.
Colton Haynes made an appearance with a small group of friends and looked every inch the Rüdes customer in a wide brimmed hat, long dark coat with gold buttons and a blousy silk shirt. Haynes added to the already potent glamour in the room and proved to be a beacon for the many photographers present.
As wonderful as the clothes were, it dawned on me that Rüdes’ interpretation of dress was a bit narrow as teams of lithe, model-height men (no, not all of them were models) floated about the room. A lack of agency over how clothes are constructed and styled is a crippling problem in womenswear that speaks to sexist notions of propriety and pre-approved beauty. Rüdes allowed similarly golden shackles to bleed over into his collection of winnowy, bohemian uniforms that seem most friendly to those who make regular use of their Equinox membership yet retain an almost boyish frame. He has missed out on the true power of menswear: it is not prescribed, but rather adopted and adapted as the customer sees fit. Let’s hope he loosens up rather than buckles down.
written by martin lerma