We first experimented with men’s patterns a few years ago when Negroni came out. I’ve always meant to do more, and people have certainly asked for them.
But I’ve never quite felt right about the way it mixes with the ladies’ patterns. I mean, the packaging was pink. NOT that there is anything wrong with men wearing pink, but it was pretty disconnected from the aesthetic of Negroni.
So it was time for a little refinement. We decided to add a couple more patterns for guys, and make them usable and wearable for women too. They’d need a new look and a bit of new branding.
The design process
Kristen and I worked together on the initial designs.
We decided we wanted to do a piece of outerwear to go with Negroni, since we were releasing in the Fall. We researched several classic jacket and coat styles. I loved looking through Japanese men’s fashion and street style magazines, because they are obsessed with details. And I love that they show real men holding coffee cups and pushing baby strollers.
We finally decided a duffle coat made a lot of sense. It could be simplified easily, would work as both a coat and lightweight jacket, and looks awesome on men and women alike. (My second choice would have been a simple raglan mackintosh, which I still really want to do sometime.)
I also started spending more time on menswear blogs, especially those that focus on traditional and classic clothing. The interesting thing about menswear is that the styles are so much more constrained. It’s the little things that matter, like the choice of cloth, the details, the notions, the stitching. It appeals to me.
Kristen also had the idea of doing a bag. It took some convincing for me, because it’s so different from what we’ve done before. But after thinking about all the options and how fun it would be to play with, I was convinced.
Since bags are new territory for us, we decided to get help from a pro bag maker. Laura has a post about her design process here (and why it was a LABOR of love… ha!)
We tested the bags thoroughly. We had our fit model try them on, and Kristen even rode Sheli’s bike up and down the hall with Cooper on the rack, to make sure it would work on a small-framed bike.
Sheli was in charge of the branding.
I created moodboards to explore the aesthetic we were after, which is basically inspired by where we live, the Pacific Northwest. A dash of vintage, a bit of woodsiness, and a lot more manliness than we’re used to around here at CP.
Sheli created the hand drawn logo. We wanted something with a vintage, hand done feel, but not too girly. Not an easy task, it turns out. She also picked a color palette, choosing pantone swatches that would work well on the kraft stock.
Sheli also worked with our printer on the packaging, choosing a heavier weight kraft paper stock for the cover, but keeping the overall shape and design of our original patterns. When our printer showed us a sample using a semi-hidden spiral binding, we all swooned. Kenn went to work sourcing a local bindery. We found it would be a little more costly for us, but we all decided it would be worth it for you guys to have instructions that actually lay flat.
The photo shoot
Oh, the photo shoot.
Many of you have admired our lovely male model, Jacob. Let me tell you, it is not easy to find the right male model.
First of all, though Portland is awash in handsome rugged men, it is also athletic wear central, with companies like Nike and Adidas and many others near by. So the market for models tends to lean toward the sporty. We had to look at a lot of pictures of clean-cut, hairless, athletic guys in their underwear before we found the right man for the job. Think Abercrombie catalogs. Not quite our thing.
We wanted a guy who looked more like your typical beardy-weirdy Portlander, and we found it in Farmer Jacob. Yes, Jacob is a berry farmer by trade. He owns an emu, or so he told us. This was his second modeling gig ever.
Our lady model… didn’t show up. After some frantic phone calls to various agencies, and even one desperate call to our gorgeous sample sewer (who was too busy), the beautiful Zoe showed up to fill in. We couldn’t have asked for a more lovely lady.
Shooting two models at once was a new experience for me, and not without its challenges. It required a lot more direction, especially since our models had such great chemistry and got very chatty. Ha!
Also, there are twice as many pictures in which someone’s eyes are closed.
Our real inspiration
Finally, here is the namesake of our Cooper bag. He lives with Kristen and is clearly enjoying his new bag empire.