Editor’s note: To read up on a host of great menswear brands & personalities, check out the rest of the Style Q+A series.
I must say, the first Style Q+A of 2017 is a pretty exciting one here on the blog. Investment-worthy and incredible to shop, yes — but also very exciting. The opportunities the menswear world provides to so many people — both as a career and a creative outlet — are pretty cool and often unexpected. That’s the case with Rivay, a relatively young new menswear brand based out of NYC that I’ve had the chance to learn more about this winter season. It sprang from unexpected beginnings (stick around for the Q+A), and I’d wager it’s here to stay. Certainly, if it’s sturdy, handsome winter style essentials that you seek, you’re in luck — lots of luck. I won’t give everything away here, but Rivay gets plenty of things right on multiple #menswear fronts. From a ridiculously beautiful hand-knit cable sweater to everyday pieces that blend functionality and style — like the Keats Hooded Parka — the collection feels of a different, more rustic and rugged age … yet it would be easy to wear in the streets of NYC and well beyond this winter. I caught up with founder Jon Ruti, who provided some excellent insight into the brand’s unlikely beginnings and how the streets of the Big Apple shape the design, technicality and yes, truly great style of his menswear line. So as you take stock of your 2017 menswear resolutions — be they upgrading your closet itself or upgrading your home goods — you’d be wise to look into Rivay to help you with a few choice menswear pieces. You really won’t regret it. For now, I’ll let founder Jon Ruti fill you in on a brand that’s making big waves in the NYC menswear scene.
TSG: Tell me about the start of the Rivay brand, in your own words?
JR: The idea for Rivay began when I was still working as an Assistant District Attorney here in New York City. Prosecution is a tough job. The long hours and subject matter can wear a person down. To maintain balance, I made a point to dedicate weekends to pursuing my hobbies. Vintage cars, travel – anything that took my mind off the job.
When it came time to leave the office, I couldn’t find a brand for the transition from profession to off-duty. Existing brands were either too technical or too fashion. I wanted a clean, modern, well edited collection that looked natural going to and from my weekend passions. That’s when Rivay took shape.
TSG: NYC-centric design is a big focus for Rivay – how does the city shape the clothing you produce?
JR: NYC informs our designs in several ways. Living and working here gives us insight into how our styles should function. Crowded subway cars, freak downpours, cracked sidewalks – daily life here can be tough on a man’s wardrobe. To combat this, we source the best fabrics, those that can handle the daily commute as well as a weekend of adventure. Our silhouettes are clean, modern and made to stand up to daily life. So no matter if you’re using our parka for a rainy commute or a weekend drive, you can be sure it’s going to perform, look good and last.
In the more general sense, NYC is a place where classic and modern exist in harmony. It’s a characteristic that informs our designs. Using modern, clean silhouettes and constructing them with classic, time-tested fabrics is a cornerstone of our design philosophy.
TSG: What’s your favorite item in the current line? Any plans to expand into different product categories in future seasons?
JR: I love our Keats Parka. It’s unlined, paired down to the absolute essentials and looks just as good over a suit on the way to the office or over a t-shirt on the way to a Saturday cars & coffee. Pair it with one of our lightweight and ultra-soft Japanese wool shirt jackets and you’ve got yourself a warm & seriously stylish alternative to the typical Barbour or Patagonia setup.
For Spring-Summer 2017, we have some exciting developments in pants, shorts and printed shirting. Some of the hardest things for a man to find are flattering pants and masculine, restrained prints. We’ve spent a lot of time perfecting the fit of our pants and sourcing fabrics and prints that will have you looking stylish for the warmer months.
TSG: On a style-related note, what’s one essential (either from your brand, or a style classic) that every guy should own?
From Rivay, our Hopper Selvedge Oxford Work Shirt is an excellent alternative to the typical oxford. Just as soft and durable as the classic, but in an updated silhouette that is both rugged and refined.
For items outside of Rivay, a vintage timepiece or a car with some character. On the pricier spectrum, a Rolex Submariner 5513 and a Defender 90 look good with anything, anytime, anywhere. For something a little more approachable, a vintage Smiths W10 Military watch and late 1960s all-original Ford pickup are timeless. So long as you invest in good design, it will never go out of style.