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15 Aug

Union Throws a Party in L.A., Paul Smith and

Union Throws a Party in L.A., Paul Smith and

Re-intro for Union: Union isn’t only a pioneering men’s and streetwear retail institution on La Brea Avenue in Los Angeles; it’s also a way of life brand.

That was the message Friday night when Chris Gibbs hosted a ceremonial dinner to rejoice the autumn 2023 collection at a personal residence in Baldwin Hills.

“Have you ever met Jamie?” Gibbs asked the dinner table.

Jamie Benson, that’s, head designer for the unisex collection. “Our objective is to reintroduce Union,” said Benson, who’s been with the corporate full time for 2 years. The aim is to supply “a novel viewpoint,” focused on luxury-quality garments at an accessible price point. Produced in Japan and China, the gathering is priced between $102 and $445.

“It’s a worth proposition,” explained Gibbs, who recently took on the role of creative director for the brand. “I don’t care how dope it’s. I don’t want it to be insanely priced. And the worth proposition on the knits is admittedly good.”

Knits include the $198 Wheatley cardigan, inspired by Gibbs’ Canadian roots “with motifs pulled from his late grandmother’s old blankets.” There’s outerwear — the $445 Dunbar parka is influenced by the Swedish army snow jacket silhouette and made with jersey-like Japanese fabric — in addition to trousers and denim.

“Grab something to wear,” Gibbs generously offered those feeling the nippiness because the sun set and temperature dropped on the hilltop. The ceremonial dinner was held within the open air overlooking L.A.

The setting was intentional; Baldwin Hills has been called the “Black Beverly Hills,” due to distinguished Black celebrities and cultural figures who’ve lived in the realm through the years, including Lenny Kravitz (he grew up in Baldwin Vista in the home owned by his parents, actress Roxie Roker and TV producer Sy Kravitz), Debbie Allen, John Singleton, Ray Charles, Ike and Tina Turner.

The night’s menu, too, honored Black history.

“What I concentrate on is Black food history,” said chef Martin Draluck of Black Pot Supper Club.

“James Hemings was really our first celebrity chef,” Draluck said, speaking in regards to the Paris-trained chef born into slavery in Virginia, who worked for Thomas Jefferson at his Monticello estate for seven years, and helped popularize macaroni and cheese within the U.S.

The meal was paired with wine courtesy of Offhand Wine Bar in Santa Monica, owned by Teron Stevenson and Khalil Kinsey — longtime friends who connected Gibbs and Benson.

“It’s all family,” said Kinsey, joined by Gibbs’ wife Beth Birkett Gibbs, co-owner of Union and founding father of women’s streetwear brand Bephies Beauty Supply; designer and Foot Locker women’s creative director Melody Ehsani; shoe designer Salehe Bembury; tattooist Dr. Woo; filmmaker Raj Debah; artist Arthur Jafa; Damian Bulluck of Fear of God, and Ronnie Singh of NBA 2K.

Draluck’s menu was also inspired by the recipes of Malinda Russell, a free Black woman from Tennessee who released “A Domestic Cookbook: Containing a Careful Collection of Useful Receipts for the Kitchen” in 1866.

“The one surviving copy is held on the University of Michigan,” Draluck said, serving fried shrimp and grits, pork roast, creamy rigatoni, buttered cabbage and “forcemeat” with onion gravy.

“It’s just meatball or sausage filling at its most elementary iteration,” he explained of the latter — the primary dish. “Enjoy.” — RYMA CHIKHOUNE

NYFW Connect: The Folklore Group, the software company behind the wholesale marketplace The Folklore Connect, will host its second physical showroom during Latest York Fashion Week.

The Folklore Connect enables retailers to find and shop diverse and sustainable brands in global markets.

This follows on the heels of its February showroom that attracted nearly 1,000 buyers, editors and industry professionals.

The Folklore Connect NYFW Showroom, powered by Shopify, will run from Sept. 7 through Sept. 10 at 131 Greene Street in Latest York, Shopify Latest York’s two-story space in SoHo. The showroom will enable retailers, media, stylists and other industry professionals to book appointments to view the spring 2024 collections of 15 apparel and accessories brands from Ghana, Nigeria, South Africa, Colombia, London, Latest York, Atlanta and Toronto.

The brands featured include AAKS, Chee Lee, EDAS, Elexiay, Israella Kobla, Kadiju, Oríré, Rendoll, RP Latest York, Selfi, Shekudo, Tehjan Burnett, The Lulo Project, V. Bellan, and Wisdom Eyewear.

Amira Rasool, founder and chief executive officer of The Folklore Group, said, “Although b-to-b wholesale e-commerce technology is a necessary a part of the wholesale buying process, the physical and relationship element of shopping for are still major parts of the equation. Our platform was not set as much as eliminate the necessity for human and physical interaction, moderately it was set as much as streamline these interactions and make the invention and transaction a part of wholesale buying simpler and quicker. We invite every opportunity to make the wholesale experience the perfect it may be for all of our users, and we discover the in-person showrooms we host profit each our brand and retail partners.”

Rasool was on WWD x FN x Beauty Inc’s 50 Women in Power list for 2022.

The Folklore Connect can be hosting a panel on the opening evening of Sept. 7 within the Shopify space that may showcase industry experts from brands and buyers to share insights for emerging brands embarking on their wholesale journey and learn how to notice and attract retailer interest. — LISA LOCKWOOD

The Smiths: It’s the season of the Smiths at Paul Smith, with British actor Matt Smith fronting the brand’s fall 2023 and spring 2024 campaigns.

In one in all the shots, the brand’s founder, Paul Smith, is joined by the actor, each wearing black tailoring and posing candidly.

Within the solo shots, Matt is wearing a black suit and tie with a crisp white shirt, sitting on a white stool; meanwhile in an up-close photograph, he’s weaning one in all the brand’s knitwear pieces in its signature stripes.

The Smiths: Paul and Matt

Courtesy of Paul Smith

“I’m beyond excited to be working with Matt for the subsequent two seasons — he’s the right fit for Paul Smith. He’s also one in all those individuals who really embodies effortlessness, each when it comes to his on-screen characters and his off-screen sense of fashion. And, after all, it doesn’t hurt that he looks excellent in a suit,” said Paul Smith in a press release. 

The “House of the Dragon” star made an appearance on the Paul Smith show in June when the Paris men’s spring 2024 shows were going down.

Matt Smith for Paul Smith

Matt Smith for Paul Smith.

Courtesy of Paul Smith

“Paul Smith has provided classic, inventive and colourful tailoring for years. At its heart is the good legend that’s Paul Smith himself. To work with him and get to know him personally has been a whole honor,” said the actor.

“He continues to push boundaries in life and art making Paul Smith a consistently iconic British brand. Not to say utterly stylish,” he added.

In June, the designer noted the success of his suits. He said “after all the suit continues to be vital, and really relevant; we sell a number of them. In reality, we sold 20 in our shop on Saturday.” — HIKMAT MOHAMMED

SWEET DEAL: For a virtual K-pop artist, Apoki has scored some major artistic talent for her sixth single — artwork created by famed illustrator Yoshitaka Amano.


Apoki’s cover art for “Hold On,” an album that’s due out this fall.

Photo Courtesy Sony Music Solutions

The just-released “Hold On” is the pastel-loving character’s sixth single and the primary geared for Japanese-speaking fans, lots of whom are amongst her 5 million-plus social media followers.

With a profession that dates back to the ’60s, Amano is internationally known for his art, illustration and character design for such video game series as Final Fantasy, Vampire Hunter D, Gatchaman, and Casshern amongst many others. He created the three-dimensional Candy Girls specifically for this music video.

Working with Amano registered with Apoki, whose manager said via a Sony Music Solutions spokesperson, “Every artist on Earth loves his work and our desire connected us. It’s such an honor to work with him.”

She has also scored support from the Japanese confectionary and ice cream company Lotte, which makes Watermelonbar ice pops that appear like slim slices of rosy watermelon, meant to appeal to the culture of cuteness in Japan. The seedless pops are popular in Japan and South Korea.

The ice-pop maker got a freebie with the collaboration by not having to pay Apoki for the position of Watermelonbar imagery in the brand new video, in keeping with a Sony Music Solutions spokeswoman. Nevertheless, discussions about influencer deals are underway for this fall’s release of her first album, titled “Space,” she said. Apoki has previously acted as an influencer for Casio’s G-Shock and Charles & Keith.

Amano is industrious as ever. In honor of the tenth anniversary of the sport The Last of Us, the acclaimed artist has joined forces with Naughty Dog and video game art merchants Cook & Becker to create select art pieces and posters. Pre-orders for the limited-edition artwork are being accepted until Sept. 5. Amano also recently announced that he has dreamt up the quilt art for the musician Yoshiki’s latest album, “Requiem.”

Knowing that Japan is among the many leading “mega markets of virtual artists on the planet,” Apoki has dreamt of singing “an original Japanese original song since her debut,” the spokeswoman said. — ROSEMARY FEITELBERG

Going Wide: Darn Tough socks is expanding its reach — quite literally.

The Vermont-based brand, which is celebrating its twentieth anniversary this yr, is launching a latest division: Wide Open — the Wide Width Sock. The road, which is able to debut online in October, will offer socks designed to stretch to suit wide feet, ankles and calves.

The gathering will launch with six models: no-show, quarter, mini crew, micro crew, crew and boot. They are going to feature unique colours and designs with sizes that may range from a women’s 4.5 to a men’s 14.5. Every pair will include Darn Tough’s Unconditional Lifetime Guarantee and the pricing can be in keeping with Darn Tough’s current offering, which ranges in price from $15 for girls’s no-shows, $17 for running socks and $22 for micro crews to $25 for midweight mountain climbing socks and $33 for over-the-calf snowboard socks, in keeping with the brand’s website. 

“Sock patterns and standards don’t exist for wide legs and feet, so we’re creating them,” said Ric Cabot, president and chief executive officer of Darn Tough. The brand’s innovation team worked on the event of the Wide Open collection for 2 years.

The gathering can be sold on a latest website, wideopensocks.com, that may launch Oct. 1 and be expanded to brick-and-mortar locations in July of 2024. Darn Tough socks are carried primarily at outdoor retailers across the country including REI and Paragon Sports. — JEAN E. PALMIERI

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