Sunday, May 2, 2010




Broadway, SOHO

words/images Judith Ecochard

We always get inspired and educated when we have a chat with Kai D. Fan, the designer of his eponymous label, thinker, entrepreneur (with a store at 75 Orchard Street, between Grand/Broome Streets NYC 212) 334-6241), 
...brand establisher and all around nice guy.

For F/W 2010…the slightly unusual twists to the basics of his collection, both rugged and on trend (versus trendy) ---sport the kind of details, cuts, unique fabrics and trims that vastly distinguish this brand from separates clipped with bigger labels' hangtags.

“It takes me a long time to design one garment," Kai notes, “…it’s a creative process with experimentation, until I am completely happy.”

“I think about how I want to wear these garments…very versatile pieces as opposed to thinking abut the trends.”

Interacting with customers, Kai D is able to build on his seasonal “theme” ---always with the MO that guys want to dress in pieces “that will last for a long time.” 

And as resourceful type himself, Kai sources out of the way fabric stores in the Lower Eastside for ‘dead stock’ and selvage trims found nowhere else.

Added plus: the garments are made in NYC…so the quality (double & triple stitching) and finished attire are well, simply glorious. Consumers probably don't see this attention to detail from garments made waaayyyy overseas.


This season’s mantra “PURPOSEFUL” emanates from Kai’s vision that “the purpose of it all is a more conscious way we live…whether it’s more organic than in the past when we consumed without thinking.”

The theme also plays into the inspiration from uniforms of the past…which were not about being individuals per se, but part of a collective whole.

Lastly, the Bauhaus cultural movement--- as exhibited in a recent MOMA affair---with its emphasis on geometric design, respect for practical material…and an economic and spiritual awareness as espoused by Walter Gropius… plays into the collection as well.

Thankfully, slim silhouettes predominate the pieces we saw…lines we favor for pulled together looks.

A sophisticated casual look that had us thinking Paul Newman…as in the Newman Ink Striped Wool pants....

Our favorite… a vest “still a key piece” with vintage tape on the pocket, washed muslin inside…made of pique wool that is both formal and unpretentious...with a great striped wool back.

A waxed Barbour like jacket…a heavy jacket with a short, rounded collar…a slimmer fit than the traditional that masculine and flattering. It’s a great travel piece too…with all the pockets.

There are several new fabrics used for this collection, including denim. A smoky gray, a character of the yarn stripes …works with other tones throughout the collection---- loden green, brown or navy anything…very ‘purposeful.”

A rugged button downs with tabs, locker loop and special buttons from Equador.

Nice...the Rockland Jacket ...with a light tartan trim and with a classic 40’s double chest pocket. 

Kai D’s denim is made of lightweight Japanese denim in a ‘workwear blue’…with a hand threaded tack pocket corner…

A cotton linen wool blend with selvage, washed fabrics etc...lots of button downs guys will love are highlights. Featuring...
---tabbed neck, locker loops, updated fits...

More... ---a brush twill, tabs for rolled up sleeves to get to work…very functional.

A two piece seamed arm…conforms better to biceps for a sleeker fit, finished with selvage tabs. Plus side seams of tartans, tea dyed inside.

The toggle coat is a classic! Kai D’s is sportier…a tad shorter in length with a detachable hood.

A workshirt type jacket... is quite tailored.

A trench belongs in everyone’s wardrobe. The waxed cotton fabric here is rugged soft, with a neat motorcycle edge via slanted pockets. POLO MOTORCYCLE TRENCH....

An elegant Chester style jacket (Norton Peacoat) of Italian felt moves well within  a structural/architectural shape that’s makes it casual and work friendly.

This season there are a few knits…

A lawrence cardigan of cotton wool has a soft but masculine silhouette, and is lightweight enough to layer…and wear in the Spring.

A 20’s style workshirt is the inspiration here….that’s actually made of two layers of fabric woven together.


“Repurposed” vintage garments are uniquely remade…a few samples…with slimmer silhouettes and hand touch details like leather pockets.

A retro stylish tartan button down.

A 1920’s vest silhouette gets an updated lapel and striped cotton lining.

Barrick military pants in beautiful fabrics are flattering…the back has a slightly higher rise---in wool but casual enough for everyday wear.

Another keeper…the motorcycle silhouette with hand stitching around the collar


Kai D’s tees are in a category all their own….
 organic too

All made in New York, there is hand stitched elements…are layerable and super soft of a special cotton/poly/rayon blend.

INFO: Including e-commerce and store locater KAI D UTILITY

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