LABELS WE LOVE
Are you up for a Rüdes Awakening?
Former denim tycoon Jeffrey Rudes and his new menswear line combine ultra-luxe Italian tailoring with casual L.A. vibes—and once you try it, you won’t want to wear anything else
Let’s say you start a denim brand and it becomes a hit. Then, nine years later, you sell off your share for, oh, around $300 million. What do you do next? For Jeffrey Rudes, once the “J” in J Brand jeans, the answer after stepping away was to go upscale—way up the scale—and launch a sleek eponymous menswear line that rivals Tom Ford for louche sex appeal (and price).
— Sean Hotchkiss
The Business Plan
“I knew five years ago I’d be selling J Brand,” Rudes tells us. “And I knew I wanted to start an American label that could go up against the Italians, the French, the English. It would be fun.” He kept his headquarters in Los Angeles (where men have perfected the art of power dressing without a tie), opened a flagship New York store in SoHo, and made sure his tailoring was done in Florence by the same hands that he says lay stitches for Hermès and Givenchy.
Slim-lapel jackets—“to me the jacket makes the man,” Rudes says—worn with a herringbone coat, skinny black jeans, and yes, silk shirts. Wait, seriously? Silk? Damn straight, says Rudes: “We put a lot of guys in our silk shirts and they say, ‘I don’t know if I can pull that off,’ but all of them end up buying them.” His first collection appeared last fall, with more clothes and shoes including low-top Chelsea boots and leather moccasins on the way for spring 2016.
Dressed well, but not dressed up—that means out with the ties, in with the tees. Suit pants fit skip-dessert slim. Socks are extremely optional. Rudes’s clothes seem designed for men who’ve not only made it but entered into a permanent condition of sun-dappled California leisure, their lives an endless string of lunches alfresco. There’s even a resort collection complete with an ivory peacoat, perfect for the man who prefers to captain his own yacht.
Off-the-rack jackets are made from the richest materials known to sheep, goat, and man—think wool, cashmere, velvet, and mohair—and go for upwards of two grand. Even a plain (though impeccably constructed) white dress shirt can top $400. But these are best-of-both-worlds pieces: low-key Hollywood ease combined with the tailored fit that makes any man look like a mogul. “We’re creating this feeling,” Rudes says, “and I think we’re doing it well.”