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At a special media preview sponsored by ethical lifestyle brand Apolis earlier this summer, I ran into a situation that rarely, if ever, happens. I was chatting briefly with Apolis co-founder Raan Parton when he introduced his companion — another Beau, in fact. It just happened to be Beau Lawrence, founder of up-and-coming menswear brand Ace Rivington. What he had to say about his brand and the backstory behind it immediately caught my attention, and discerning consumers would do wise to listen up, too.
Ace Rivington first made a name for itself with a wildly successful Kickstarter (to the tune of $60,990 raised) for its Homespun Sweatshirt, a crisp upgrade to the once-casual crewneck sweater. The fact that the crewneck sweater is now an accepted menswear staple definitely contributed to the brand’s initial success, but in the time since then, they’ve moved beyond just sweatshirts. That staple item was borne out of a simple set of perfect fabric, though. Once he’d found the right knit, Lawrence quit his job in November 2013 and got to work — bringing with him more than 18 years of experience in the denim industry. Add in the fact that the brand focuses on American manufacturing and you’ve got the makings of #menswear success.
What’s even more compelling about the brand is the playful, heritage-filled story woven into its products. Consumers can follow along with the daring Ace Rivington and his family through the brand’s blog. Ace is a fictional pilot who provides the sartorial inspiration for the brand’s rugged staples — and spirit of adventure. The concept is something that few, if any brands, have tried. Sure, plenty tie back to the ideals of heritage quality, history and pieces built for decades — but Ace Rivington is the only one that provides quite literally an inspired story to back it up. Some might find it too much, but the ways in which the product is designed and the creative is presented definitely help build the narrative into a cohesive brand identity.
The company’s offerings are tight and controlled, particularly its shirting — five models are for sale on the site right now, including a Beach Washed Chambray option that would serve as a fine complement to the brand’s made-in-the-USA selvedge denim. That denim however, does run for a premium price — more than $200. Its chinos also venture into Bonobos-esque pricing territory ($89) but pack classic military styling inspiration into one pair. And while some are against the jogger trend entirely, Ace Rivington does indeed stock an aptly named pair — after having checked out a pair from the brand, the Layover Jogger (made out of a lightweight cotton weave) is actually the type of pant you’d want to be wearing if you found yourself stranded in an airport.
On the shirting front, it does appear as if the brand is planning a broader expansion come next spring, as they teased out a product shot of a neat-looking short-sleeve shirt on the company’s Instagram account recently.
The iconic sweater the brand launched with is also on the site in multiple colors, and colorblocked cuffs plus a ribbed collar help it stand out from your average crewneck. At a 90% cotton/10% polyester blend, it might not be the kind of sweater that shields you from an Arctic chill, but it would be the ideal layering piece for fall, particularly underneath a herringbone blazer. At $129 however, it’s again an investment to give some thought.
Ace Rivington’s outerwear selection is small but does feature a café racer jacket. Likewise, it keeps its footwear offerings on the small, yet classic, side as well. Two pairs of excellent Wolverine boots, a classic three-eye chukka from SeaVees and two pairs of utilitarian SeaVees sneakers round out the product focus.
The brand’s accessories add a dash of the unexpected to your everyday carry, including a branded Zippo lighter and aviation-themed playing cards that line right up with the brand’s aviation-minded backstory. As to be expected for a brand that built its foundation on a simple sweatshirt, its basics are similarly well-constructed. The brand was kind enough to send along a Home Washed Heathered Crewneck in Oatmeal, and it’s extremely soft with a slim yet comfortable fit — exactly how a T-shirt should feel.
Judging by the brand’s quick rise through Kickstarter, planned product upgrades in the coming seasons and compelling backstory, Ace Rivington seems like the type of brand that can definitely strike a chord with customers looking for crisp basics that incorporate just-different-enough touches and reliable quality. And if you happen to be an aviation enthusiast, there’s perhaps no better brand out there.