Let's start at the beginning. You see, before the collaborations, the impending launch of my own made-to-measure luxury menswear brand, and befriending the guy known as “nigel wormboy’ on Instagram, I was simply a fan. I had been listening to Felly (who is now simply "Chris") for years, and as such, I heard about a certain fashion brand started by his friends in Connecticut. As my job entailed discovering new brands around the country boarding them onto a curated marketplace called iVANZi, I jumped on the chance and reached out to Washed. Amazingly, Kyle not only responded, but also called my direct line without any inquiry or hesitation. I gave him my elevator pitch, we talked briefly about our own experiences, and by the end of the call I had been invited to Connecticut to capture the new Washed lookbook. I was unaware at the time, but this was Kyle in his purest form: passionate, engaging, and excited for any and all opportunities given to him.
It's the Wednesday immediately preceding Thanksgiving, and I am eagerly preparing for a morning train to Connecticut. With a bag full of SD cards and camera lenses, I leave my office in SoHo, telling my boss that I am meeting the owners of some brand named "Washed" for a photoshoot. Happily obliging yet simultaneously confused, he sends his well wishes, shakes my hand, and we part ways. The journey had just begun, but oddly enough I already knew its outcome.
After a brief train ride lasting a little over an hour, I had arrived at a small town called "Fairfield." Within minutes, the incessant sound of bass, Kendrick Lamar, and Danny Brown infiltrated my ears, and I abruptly heard two voices screaming "ROSSSSS" at the top of their lungs. Yes indeed... Kyle Wallack and Tim Edmonds had just arrived. Me being the reserved individual I am, I couldn't help but crack a smile and chuckle to myself and marvel at the immediately infectious personalities of Tim and Kyle. My bags were hauled in the back of Tim's Jeep, and we sped off into the unknown.
Before proceeding any further and forcing you to read a blog post that could easily become a 40 page short story, I will focus on brevity and merely state that the moments experienced on this cold November day were both numerous and beyond joyous. The warm welcome I received from a seemingly never-ending amount of friends and family was astounding, the creativity of those surrounding me astonishing, and the overflowing amount of kindness and generosity given to me from everyone involved is something I will cherish for eternity. You see, I was not photographing clothing; rather, I was capturing a lifestyle... a way of life... a collective of individuals who strive to empower and elevate each other in any and all ways imaginable. As my day in Connecticut ended and I made the dreaded trip back to New York City, I nonetheless knew that a shift had occurred within my own world. Indeed, Kyle and Tim were not merely founders of a brand that I had the pleasure of photographing, but like-minded creatives with a desire and passion to shift the paradigm of fashion similar to my own.
As weeks progressed and November fall foliage made way for the bone-chilling winters of New York City, so too were changes brewing with Kyle, Tim, and myself. Indeed, my brand had transitioned from crewnecks and tees to made-to-measure garments, while Washed was eager to take the next step in their own brand’s evolution. On a fateful February day, I texted Kyle two simple words: "Let's collaborate."
Within two hours, we had decided: trench rain jacket. Over the next seven months, we tweaked and revised this initial idea in unimaginable ways. Therefore, the jacket you see in front of you is not simply a spontaneous design, but a garment wherein every single color, material, and subtle detail was methodically built into fruition. From the rose gold zippers, to the off-white cream exterior and burnt orange satin interior, and even the "Never be Like Them" text printed on the tail, this is not a jacket for everyone. Rather, it is a staple autumn and winter garment for those that go against the grain, march to the beat of their own drum, and are unafraid to challenge the status quo. As Kyle, Tim, and myself strive to do exactly that through both the lives we live and brands we have created, so too do we hope that this jacket gives you the confidence to trek your own path and proudly swim in uncharted waters.
It is October 11th and fall is in full effect. Kyle has lived in his newly acquired New York apartment for over a month (yes, we hang out practically every day), Tim is months from graduating (almost there, bro!), Washed is smoothly humming along (Gang?), and R. Youell is about to drop its full collection this week (FINALLY!). I ring the buzzer at 233 East 12th Street. Kyle eagerly arrives downstairs as we head to a late-night bodega in an utterly ridiculous array of fur, ripped jeans, and trench jackets. The trees lining East 12th Street rustle back and forth as the brisk autumn breeze provides a delightful contrast to the recently extinguished summer humidity. As we arrive at the crosswalk and wait on the impending green light to turn red, Kyle mumbles "Yo, let's drop the jacket this Sunday." Without hesitating or thinking twice, I respond "Say no more." As traffic ceases and the traffic light transitions from yellow to red, we silently cross East 12th Street, our thoughts swallowed and evaporated by the surrounding New York streets. "This is only the beginning," I say to myself. Yes... It truly is.
We hope you enjoy this collaboration of friendship and creativity, and cannot wait to share even more designs with you in the foreseeable future. Have a blessed Sunday, and Never Be Like Them.
Ross & The Washed Gang