Recently, just about every buyer from Seattle’s big, small, important, and influential shops watched as Peruvian-made, hand-loomed, handknit scarves, sweaters, and ponchos as well as dress shirts with old-world, gentlemanly accessories added up to a global yet local, aspirational but wearable collection of menswear for neo-Gothic Nomads.
Built for Man’s Francisco Hernandez refuses to believe that Seattle is anything other than a city on a fashion ascendancy. As he put it to me a few days after the show, “We are for real, we are here, we are not Paris, we are not New York, we are Seattle.”
The Built for Man creative force speaks softly and patiently, with an understated urgency. He has lofty goals that include showcasing fashion in the traditional parlor setting (in Seattle no less), and upgrading local dudes to neo-tuxedo shirts, capes, and corvatts. “Passionate” doesn’t begin to describe it.
And considering the line’s back story — the house of BfM mindfully and respectfully makes good use of traditional talents and craftsmanship in Peru, employing and sustaining endangered communities — the odd elements (arm warmers, bare feet, man-ponchos) only add to the curious attraction.
“Curious” would be a good way to describe the line’s buzz. Despite not having a ton of retail representation, just about everyone in Seattle’s style circles has heard of BfM. You’ve maybe read a little about it here and here. And if you’ve seen passersby in one of those ponchos (they call them unkus), you didn’t soon forget it.
But what will it take to boost Built for Man to that sweet spot of creative symbiosis that Hernandez so passionately believes in?
Some more solid stockists would help.
Which brings us back to the buyers in attendance last week. Veridis and David Lawrence have been key retailers for Built to Man this year. With the latter’s move (he left Bell Square — do the kids still call it that?? — but will keep his Downtown Seattle location) to The Bravern this week, one can only expect that Hernandez’s expectations are high.
Flip through the slideshow here as an introduction or update to Built to Man, and then plan to visit David Lawrence at the Bravern soon
- if for no other reason than to see how many different corvatts are on offer.