Monday, November 16, 2009


Words, Images Judith Ecochard

Design driven attire that can REALLY double as performance wear has gone beyond appealing to only outdoors types with a stylish aesthetic.

Nau is a modern clothing company (owned by the Santa Barbara CA casual/travel wear company, Horney Toad)…that we think is ready to appeal to mainstream fashionistas as well as those who demand their garments work as well on the hiking trail as they look on an urban street.

Combined with a deep commitment to using sustainable materials, that’s traceable from cradle to cradle (durable and recyclable)... NAU’s MO is admirable.

Nau and its creative light, Peter Kullen…was around for the buzzing opening of his label’s pop up store in a spacious two story SoHo locale.

We grabbed a few minutes with the Portland Oregon native…

Hidden Zip Pocket in Cozy Down Scarf

“I grew up going out skiing and climbing mountains…and then I was a club kid…and over time I wanted a combination of those worlds, to create really beautiful things that move in both worlds.”

Beginning with the “green” fibers and “the science” that result in unique fabrics to Nau, the cool sustainable fashion we saw has no external logos, and “built for engagement.”

Meaning, the garments are magical with a sense of discovery via hidden pockets, old fashion tailoring techniques, taping and snap details…and of course performance and comfort.

A terrific gal’s jacket we saw, is made of breathable and waterproof material, with a functional mesh lining that wicks moisture, and sealed seams. A hood is removable and the silhouette flattering. Yet, it can easily work as the top layer of a snowboarding outfit.

A double weave in a cool looking “contour cut” men’s jacket stylish enough to work as a blazer, with a modern contour cut…yet one can button it up and viola, a bicycle worthy “Rider” top that protects against the elements.


Wrinkle free, and easy to clean (drip/dry). a travel perfect piece.

Interestingly, Kullen’s sites YSL as a source of inspiration: “I love the draft of making clothes…Balenciaga is a genius too>’

“I want to take that craft and reapply it into the world we live in today.


Best-selling items (not to worry---they’re restocked) is the chic ruffled Crystal dress (love the dark grey)with zip off sleeves, and subtle drawstrings that can turn the item into a tunic too.

Down, both men and women jackets and coats are hits too. From humane sources, the down is so dense, it’s super warm and weighs nothing. And the silhouettes are sleek not puffy, loaded with features that include sip off hoods and elongated arms that snap up or down, and zips that allow for movement. Even the hidden touches (durable zippers, double stitching) are what we demand from performance wear…but rarely see in a fashion item.


“We’ve just started the conversation…if you understand proportion, you understand the timelessness of the collection.”

“I am really proud.” Peter Kullen

We can see why.


In the store…the Timberland Boot Company-an eco oriented division of the Timberland Company….serves up men’s and women’s stylishly rugged, urbane kickers from their new ish line. Manufactured using vegetable dye, and some recycled materials, we thought them useful, (love heels that grip) and eye catching too.


Combined with a deep commitment to using sustainable materials (even the store’s industrial fixtures are products of dumpster diving in NYC), Nau’s shelves, packaging, etc are traceable, durable and recyclable... an MO everyone can admire.

In fact the store manager told me they barely generated any garbage in setting up the downtown shop (in ten days!!!) as almost everything was “repurposed” from somewhere. It’s a different way of doing business that requires more thought, but not necessarily more effort. A retail shop with minimal carbon footprint!
Now that’s creative too.

POP UP SHOP at 69 Mercer Street: Through December 31st, 2009 has a slew of arts, live music, and other events going on…for info, check out

HOURS: Mon-Sat: 11-7PM, Sunday 11-7 PM with extended holiday hours.


Other sustainable labels like Loomstate Jeans, and Stewart Brown yummy “organic”cashmere sweaters are available too.

411 On Sustainable Practices