INTERVIEW : MARC DANIELS // ISAORA
If you’ve been by Ace Hotel New York recently and noticed that our already handsome bellmen are looking particularly warm, stylish and ready to hike in the mountains, then you’ve encountered our new collaboration with ISAORA, an advanced sportswear company in New York with incredible design sensibility and really nice people working for them. These shirt jackets were made by hand — literally quilted by hand — right here in New York City, about 10 blocks from Ace. They are a limited edition of 50 in an Ace-exlusive colorway — warm, lightweight, with a beautiful indigo hue — available now on our online shop. Marc from ISAORA talked to us about the adventure of making them, and came up with a really good name for a Post New Wave band.
Tell me about the philosophy behind ISAORA, why and how you do what you do.
We started with the concept of designing a high-end snowboard line that wasn’t defined by the antiquated, repetitive, or preconceived identity of what technical outerwear was or should be. We lived in New York City, where winters are windy, cold and wet; we also spent a lot of time on the snow, and appreciated the technical construction and performance of what was out there, but in both cases we were entirely frustrated with how limited the options were. So we try to come at everything we design with one foot on the mountain and one on concrete. We’re neither a fashion brand trying to make technical clothes (i.e. Prada Sport or RLX) nor a snowboard/outdoor brand morphing into a fashion line (i.e. Burton, Arc’teryx Veillance). Our winter tech pieces measure up performance wise as good or better than anything on the market, except they look better, fit better and belong as much in Manhattan as they do riding down 50 degree peaks in Alaska (where we personally test everything). But really we just make clothes that we think are beautifully made and functional.
We’re totally proud of this handsome, insulated shirt jacket you’ve made for Ace. And we’re addicted. It’s light but warm, soft but strong. And it looks really good. What are you most excited about in terms of function, form and concept?
When Ace said let’s do this, we were obviously wicked excited. Not to mention that because my apartment (and until recently our office) is/was only a few blocks south of the Ace NYC and being that I’m completely obsessed with sandwiches at No. 7 Sub -– I knew that if the door guys at the hotel were going to wearing these shirts, I was going to be seeing an awful lot of them –- so basically they better be super nice.
To date, we use a pretty limited color palette (black, black, grey, black) and when we’re feeling like going a touch crazy, maybe a little off-white. This shirt gave us chance to go outside of that, go nuts and add a bit of color. When we found the fabric we ultimately went with I actually got kinda jealous –- maybe this whole black and grey thing is overatted. But seriously, we think the shirt represents both of us really well. A bit Americana, Street and Subtle Tech.
Subtle Tech is totally the name of my new band. The shirt jackets are actually handmade in New York City, about 10 blocks from Ace. Has doing a special, small and exclusive run of a product help make this possible? And do you want to do more locally produced products in the future?
Actually, we produce about half of all our pieces in NYC. While we wish could produce everything locally or at the very least domestically, we’re limited mostly by what these ‘local’ factories lack in skill, infrastructure and machines (sewing or quilting machines). As a matter of fact, despite making the ACE x ISA shirt here in NYC (on 39th St. to be precise), it is a good example of why it is hard to make things. The shirt has 3 main parts to it — the main fabric (from Japan), the insulation (Primaloft™ One) and the lining (from Japan). The insulation and the lining are quilted together and then the main fabric is joined with the quilting to make the shirt. Typically this isn’t a very complicated process, but when you design a special quilting pattern (as we did in this instance), a pattern that quilting machines in the US simply can’t replicate, this becomes a problem. While most normal people would probably modify the pattern, we got stubborn and decided we liked our little quilting pattern too much. The result –- every single shirt was quilted by hand. Making these ACE x ISA shirts particularly special.
Tell me about the fabric — the design process, where the fabric comes from, and how the insulation works, as well.
Fabric is a huge part of any clothing brand’s world. I think what we do a bit differently is source fabrics that feel really special while also having technically functional characteristics. These fabrics either exist or can be developed, you just have to be obsessive about it -– I think we might be. We found the fabric we used for this collaboration from one of our favorite fabric mills in Japan. They make the most amazing weave patterns. While the shirt feels like it is insulated with down, it’s actually lined with a special synthetic insulation that is wind-proof, super soft and way warm.
Last but not least, what are you up to today and are you wearing anything from ISAORA?
Today — I’m trying to get my intern to stop using the corporate card to buy things for our new office, I’m trying to decide why my dog Kioko is so totally cute, I’m wondering what I’m doing in New York when it’s snowing like 1000ft out west. Am I wearing any ISAORA –- umm, wait, — now I am –- Tech Insulated Sportcoat.