As one of the founding partners of Rag & Bone, Nathan Bogle turns his attention to his new label Jardine. Named after his great-grandfather, Jardine was founded on the principles of exceptional quality and blends style and substance in a harmonious marriage. I spoke with Nathan about his transition from modeling to designing and his hopes for the future.
Your discovery story was more unusual than most. Tell us about the genesis of your modeling career.
I was living on an island in Thailand. I had cut all my hair off when this Parisian cab driver said I should try modeling. She knew a lot of people in the fashion world and thought I could make some dough. I was in full traveler mode so the idea of it didn’t appeal to me at the time. When I returned to the cold bleak reality of England and my previous job as a line chef, getting paid for standing in front of the camera all of a sudden seemed very attractive. After I got paid for one days work of modeling, it was a simple mathematical decision. I then had the opportunity to move to New York in 1998 which I jumped at and rest is history.
As a successful model, what prompted you to branch out and start Rag & Bone?
It was a simple case of not finding clothes I wanted to wear and if I did they were overpriced. I came up with the idea of designing the uniform that I and lots of people were wearing of jeans and T-shirts. Marcus and I spent two years learning the trade, teaching ourselves all areas of the business and then launched it in 2004. Having all the contacts in the fashion world really helped but I knew I had to deliver them a product that was excellent and stood for something before I could ask for favors and support.
How did your background in studying permaculture influence and impact you?
I love permaculture! I think it’s the way of the future, though not that commonly known about. I started getting into it in 1994 then studied it in Australia, the birthplace of this form of sustainable living system design. It impacted me on so many levels, but living in New York City those levels are sometimes dampened. I intend to implement all that I learned and more once I get this new brand off the ground. The bigger picture will involve permaculture but it has not impacted my fashion or design in any way apart from compounding the guilt I have for all the transportation and pollution that the textile and fashion industry contributes to.
How did your experience with Rag & Bone influence your new venture Jardine?
I knew what to expect in terms of what it takes to start and build a brand. It is even harder now, because there is so much competition and less capital to splurge on new brands. I learned what it takes to actually manufacture something from sketch to store, and the amount of energy and focus that requires. Ultimately, it all boils down to taste and if ones taste is on point and has the balance of art and commerce right, there’s a chance you might make it. Product is always number one; my philosophy is there is enough average out there, there’s only room for excellence.
What were the core principles you built Jardine on?
Exceptional product quality, no-nonsense brand communication and timeless classic styling so the clothes can be worn for years.
Why was it important for you to produce most of the product in the United States?
Predominantly it is to do with our scale and manageability. It’s obviously a lot easier for me to jump on a train than a plane and be very hands on. At the beginning this is vital. I also think the quality in New York is close, if not the same, as Italy. There are some very skilled sewers in the garment district who simply need direction in order to hone the level of finishing we require.
What were some of the challenges you faced when launching your brand?
Finding the right people to manufacture, sell and promote it. There are lots of people doing all of these things, but there are very few people doing it really well. It’s the same with everything. Getting a brand to market and connecting with the right retailers takes time and money. Building a brand takes time and money so these two elements are always challenging.
We live in an age where most of our life is spent online. How has social media impacted how you do business?
When I started Rag & Bone there was no social media, which is odd to say, having only been 10 years ago. Much like the brand itself, I think social media takes time to build, unless you have the budget and time to be on it all daily, which I don’t. It’s impacted me by adding more work to the table, however it’s a very powerful tool to deliver a very focused brand message. I don’t have a lot of time to spend on the social side but I try to stay active as much as possible.
What inspires and influences you?
Art, music, street life in NYC, film, architecture and food.
How would you like to see Jardine evolve?
I’d like to build my customer base in the US and then begin to branch out internationally. I think for Fall ’14 this will happen. Women are already wearing the mens clothes so there will be a natural evolution into womenswear. Thereafter, who knows; shoes, bags, fragrance, brick and mortar stores, world domination, just give me 10 years.
For more information check out Jardine