Friday, May 1, 2009




APRIL 30TH, 2009, NYC

Words, Images Judith Ecochard and Courtesy of Kai D.

Every once in a while, we are lucky enough to get in on a new fashion collection with the designer as the guru/ guiding light to the intro.

Yesterday was such a day, and the minute we walked into the sunny, airy hub of KAI D. ---and got a glimpse of the inspiration board…we knew that this was going to be a step-up from most Stateside casual wear attire that we preview.

Meaning-a sharp, completely well thought out clothing brand that’s versatile and ‘gets’ what’s needed and missing from the current dude driven, retail market.

IMHO-Kai D. = professional rugged polish--- and priced accordingly.

And a collection that American guys (coast to coast)---- will feel comfortable –and look good- wearing.


Kai D. serves up handsome, well-edited separates “to serve the needs of modern artisans…”

(Artisans is a relative term…we’re thinking anyone with a smidgen of creativity, sensitivity, or just likes to channel cool---)

Impeccably designed and made from unique fabrics sourced from far flung locales like Japan--- the lineup is a “reflection of the years and years of training…and passion,” of the founder Kai D. Fan, a veteran of tops brands like Nautica (sportswear) and the brains behind brand strategy firm, ThincTank (currently working on translating the essence of the hit show America’s Top Model- into merchandise).

For the launch of Kai D., Fan is inspired by the theme “Build”---as in “build the brand,” as well as the modern classical structures of Manhattan-like the Empire State Building and the Chrysler Buildings---both magnificent feats of engineering, architecture and construction that triumphantly emerged- despite challenging economic times (1930’s).

Dejà vu all over again.

Kai D. jackets, shirts, pants, vests and tees clearly capture the best bits of traditional military and utility garb---with the “vintage influence refreshed into a modern feel.”

“For menswear, it’s about fabrication and fit,” Fan noted. And we certainly agree that with many brands-the fits are “old.”


The neutral palette (black, brown, charcoal grey, white) collection of bumped up basics popped with colorful comfy tees- has several winners.

The tailored back and belt element of the Bond Street Jacket that comes in masculine pin stripe as well as a solid…render this outerwear piece worthy of blazer status.

A cotton linen quilted hunting/photographer’s style waistcoat- the Freeman’s Vest is layer friendly over sweaters or tees…and under overcoats foe chillier temps.

Love the pintuck details of a “hybrid” workshirt (part of the Holiday collection)---and polished three button cuffs.

Military homage’s abound---in looks that “blend with everything, are easy care and travel well.”

Dapper epaulets, pipings in silk, and in the white Flatiron Jacket, a gray detachable vest and a genius fusion- two layered outer fabric that sports 21st century elements (water repellant, pockets for electronics) with 1930’s flourishes (buckled cuff, military tabs).

A 1940’s-ish Rivington Work Jacket (a bomber jacket high hip length- on Kai D.) and a warm jacket in suede-ed moleskin boasts a weave that is so dense---it’s water repellant

Pants are a tailored relaxed fit with “carpenter” legs, roomy pockets and tapered knees for a more flattering silhouette.

And we admire how shirts have substantial zippers and buttons for closure…like some of our snowboard gear.


Gadget friendly pockets like reinforced iPOD pocket at front right hip that tunnels cord inside the shirt to a headphone port at right chest and reinforced inside iPHONE pocket attached by Velcro,

Classic shirt tails so untucked does not mean sloppy (thank-you for that),

Shaped back darts on shirts for a sleek line

And top quality thread---as seen on the signature contrast “T” sewn inside “with a subtle stitch showing through at the back.”

Yes, the clothes will not shred when laundered…


“I looked at the lifestyle of the consumer…an artist at heart but who lives in a business environment,” Fan informed us.

We think this fresh take on menswear should find favor with American guys who are getting more and more particular about their attire.

RETAIL INFO: E-Commerce to hit September 2009. Store Locator and Details Online


PRICES: Ranges From $65/Tees to Jackets/$375-$645