Tuesday, June 1, 2010

E'LON Interview

One word: Yes!

Check out the interview E'LON Couture Magazine did on Arbitrage and me for their June issue starting on page 59.

Here's the text from the interview:

1.     When I look at your pieces it is obvious to me that fashion is your passion, when did you know this?

I think everyone has something that is his or her unique ability.  It’s something that they’re recognized by their peers as exceptional at and also something from which they can easily draw energy.  For whatever reason, I’ve always been drawn to clothing.  I remember asking for a silk shirt from my mom when I was in elementary school and since they didn’t have it in the boy’s section, scouring through the men’s department at Parisian and Lazarus for an extra small. 

I really always wanted to pursue what I am now but got steered down the path towards medicine, which I still am fascinated by and love.  I thought I wanted to go into plastic surgery for three reasons…  First, I have always been passionate about helping people convey the image they see of themselves.  Second, the craft of plastic surgery itself is an amazing blending of science and art, two things I love.  And lastly, I wanted to make a lot of money and always heard doctors did.  The thing is, doctors work very hard, are highly skilled and invested a lot of time and money to get to where they are.  If anyone puts that much energy and resources into an endeavor, he or she can expect to see the same financial rewards.

Right now, I can see how all the reasons I wanted to pursue plastic surgery can be fulfilled on the path I’m on, so I’m very grateful.

2.     I feel that if it’s a good fit, a garment is age appropriate and current you can’t go wrong.   That’s my design philosophy, what is yours?

On my personal blog, the banner on top says, “Style is a direct expression of your ideals.  It communicates to the world the character and personality traits you value and wish to attain.”  When I design, I try to keep this in mind and think about what traits the customer would want to convey about himself.

3.     Who are the designers that inspire you?

I love designers and design houses that put out stuff that looks amazing on a man right off the runway.  There are a lot of labels, like Gareth Pugh or Comme des Garçons, that produce stellar works of art, which are a lot of fun to look at, but when it comes time to wear them, not many guys are too eager.  That said though, while blue dress shirts usually sell the best, a designer worth his or her salt, shouldn’t only play it safe with the tried and the true, nor obsessively react to what people think they want.  Clothing designers should challenge them a bit.  It’s definitely a balancing act though.  At the end of the day, I believe a designer should lead their customers slightly more than they listen to what their customers want and have responded to in the past.

John Bartlett, who has his own label and also designs for Claiborne, strikes a great harmony of this.  Nearly everything I’ve seen of his is super wearable, but there are always splashes of the unexpected and an elegant, but masculine, lack of frills to it all.

Also, Tom Ford, aka the guy who made Gucci and YSL white hot in the 90s...  The stuff from his own label inspires the heck out of me.  It just has so much attitude and sex appeal without being crass about it.  Plus, his Tobacco Vanille cologne smells so delicious it’s beyond belief!

4.     I know that when designing a new piece inspiration can come from any number of places or things.  What was your inspiration for the SS2010 collection?

A starting point for our newest collection was Las Vegas.  While we decided not to put some of the more flamboyant, show-stopper pieces we showed in Cincinnati Fashion Week into production, the color palate and subtle mood of Las Vegas got injected into our shirts this summer.  But, with the ties, we were able to have more fun and stick to the decadent spirit of risk, gambling and Las Vegas.  Our textile loom we work with in Italy custom-made three different jacquard fabrics for us we’re really excited about: mud flap girls, fighter planes and guitars.

5.     Who is your target market?

I think it was Jay-Z who started saying a while back he was getting his “grown man on” haha…  An Arbitrage guy is a grown man.  He is, or will be, a leader and knows the importance image can have in that.  While he may wear a suit to the office or to do business in, he’s definitely not “a Suit.”

6.     What would be a fashion ‘do’?

Invest in high quality clothes.  Note I said invest, not simply buy.  For a man to spend $300 on a pair of Allen Edmonds dress shoes is an investment because they will last 10+ years and the right ones will look 10 times sharper than many cheaper pairs.  Judging something’s value by simply how it looks and feels brand new isn’t usually the best way to gauge quality or value.  Judge based on their reputation and what past customers have said.     

7.     What would be fashion don’t?

Don’t be overly concerned with what is in style.  If your gut tells you a color or style isn’t right for you, don’t buy it just because you heard it was the cool new thing.  What “cool” is, is just what charismatic, high status people do, say or wear.  Strive to be someone that makes things “cool” rather than parroting the “cool.”

8.     Recently I discovered that a great cardigan is my must have piece for each season.   What is your must have piece from your current collection?

Hmmm… I’d have to say our green Reversible Beaverton shirt.  We use a 2-ply fabric with one side being a white and green check, the other being a white, blue, grey and green plaid.  The fabric itself is a really soft, breezy cotton that breathes like linen but is way less brittle of a fiber, which means it’s machine washable.  Plus, it’s reversible.  How did we do that?  Order one and inspect it for yourself ;)

9.     In closing tell me what you want your client to feel or get when wearing your garments?

I want a guy who puts on an Arbitrage shirt to feel like it’s better than everything in his wardrobe.  I’m kind of a competitive person and love when I get an email from someone telling me how much they like our shirts or how they’re their favorite in their closet.  But honestly, when I get an email from a customer like Christina B. from Florida, who we helped pick a few Valentine’s Day gifts for her husband, say, “I have been really impressed with your customer service.  I don't get up to NYC nearly as often as before I had 3 kids, but on my next trip I will definitely make time to visit,” those are my favorites!

But I have a confession to make… we DON’T make the best shirts in the world!  There are some companies that use more expensive fabrics, pay for the best Italian tailors, use silk thread and pull out all the bells and whistles.  A Brioni shirt can set you back $475.  But I’ll tell you our team at Arbitrage are quality vs. value control junkies.  Here’s an example…  We used to use real pearl buttons for our shirts.  Traditionally, this may seem to be the best you could get, right?  Well it turns out, pearl is much more fragile than what we use now and actually was not best for our customers.  Things like this allow us to keep our prices between $98 - $148 for a shirt, while still making a top-tier product.

We’re always tweaking our line up, constantly improving them and adding new things. We recently developed and sold a large order of pants to a buyer in the Northwest and are getting feedback from those now.  In a nutshell though, I’d want a client to feel totally at ease going to get sushi or steak with his girlfriend or wife right after work without feeling the need to change and not have her thinking he looks bland or boring. So bringing it back home, I’d want a client of ours to feel like they have the best value shirt they can get and feel as sharp as a razor in it!

P.S. Enter "elon0610" until June 31st to receive 25% off your order!


  1. Hmmmm, when will Arbitrage make clothing for women?!

  2. love it from this side. well done.