Sloane, I once had a woman in Bali spend two full days’ hand-roll stitching a sarong for me after I showed her how to do it. It’s a difficult process enough on a pocket square, and despite the low costs wages of Bali, it still cost me $80.00AUD just to get this lady to do it. You do it on every t-shirt, both short and long sleeve – tell me how much labour goes into every t-shirt to get that kind of finish?
Our shirts are extremely labor intensive, even before the hand roll stitch. Our cotton goes through a lengthy process of washes and treatments after milling to achieve the required texture and aesthetic. Our sewers can hand finish approxi 12-15 shirts a day. It is a time consuming detail, but I believe it's an integral aspect of our shirts.
You seem passionate about Pima cotton - which is higher great American cotton from my understanding – can you explain to me what qualities you look for in jersey to create the kind of premium streetwear look you find in Mercer Market?
We look for texture and the feel of the jersey. You needed that butter smooth texture in the jersey, as well a cotton that drapes nicely. I wanted it to feel like a natural material to the touch, without checking the label. I was able to achieve the desired results with Pima and more. I think it's a fantastic fabric. We put the same amount of thought and effort into all the fabrics we use in our collections.
I am a huge fan of your crewneck sweatshirts but I see you don’t make XXL which means I am sized out of the market. I find this with a lot of contemporary streetwear brands, they don’t like us who only fit into rhino size ! Can you tell us if this is intended or whether it happens over time that people who look for this kind of urban wear just fall into a different kind of bell curve?
It wasn't my intention to directly exclude a demographic from Mercer. We are sized from XS to XL, the XS was intended for women's market. This brings us up to five sizes per style. If our wholesale outlets request larger sizes to fill a demand, we would happily look into adding them to our range.
Broadly speaking, and perhaps a massive generalisation, but I envisage many men in Los Angeles dress more in the manner of your style and designs than say those that wear suits and shirts. Is this true or is it merely my perception of Los Angeles through Hollywood and television?
I think overall, Los Angelenos are much more relaxed in their appearance compared to what I was used to coming from New York. You are right about that. It was a bit of a shock at first, but there is good and bad style everywhere. The nice thing about our shirts is they can be worn all day in a relaxed manner but also can be dressed up and worn when the suit and tie comes off at the end of the day.
The world seems to become more and more obsessed with urban street wear during times of economic prosperity, and more conservative and classically groomed in times of economic recession and depression. Do you think that progressive street wear is a somewhat a litmus test to the functioning of an economy or do you think, more broadly speaking, we are moving towards a permanent change in our perception of menswear and what constitutes clothing in the 21st Century?
This is a really thoughtful question. Its a bit of both. There is definitely been a recent shift in the perception of menswear, the needle has definitely has swayed to a more relaxed appearance and style. There definitely could be signs of a more conservative look during an economic downturn, but I think this would really only be felt by a white collar workforce.
A friend of mine is closing in on forty and until a few years ago he was becoming increasingly into Rick Owens, Haider Ackermann and other contemporary designers until he was hit over the head by his wife who demanded he dress more like a forty-year-old man. However, I have seen increasingly men in their forties buck the trend and continue wearing urban street style clothing well into their late forties. What is your opinion of age and streetwear and are they at odds with each other or can they be friends?
Age is in your attitude! If you like the way you feel in the clothes, that's all that matters. A large section of my customer base is 40+. My clothes are built on quality, both in materials and construction. I think a more experienced customer understands the importance of these qualities in garments, and is willing to spend more to get them.
The world of bespoke is often attributed to shirts, suits and shoes but almost NEVER for jersey in tops, long sleeves, polos etc. Have you ever run a bespoke programme for Mercer Market and would you consider taking on a rhino size like me for your first guinea pig?
We do have a bespoke program available for clients if they choose. we collaborate with the client to create an article of clothing, home accessory or concept that is completely unique to them. I really love this aspect of our business, its a great chance for me to get to know more of our customers on a personal basis, and it so much fun to see what they want to create.
Can you tell us three places/experiences that an Australian visiting Los Angeles might visit which ordinarily he would not know about if he was using a local guide book?
Definitely. If you are sartorial minded, you should definitely check out Maxfields, Just One Eye, and Church Boutique. They are three of my favorite shops in LA and are all each completely unique in to themselves. LA's shopping Meccas. I am huge of fan of LA's museums, so I think everyone should visit and support them. My favorites are LACMA and The Broad. Finally, make sure to stop by Musso and Franks, an LA institution, and have a martini.