Bandana Chic

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There’s an air of nostalgia to the up-and-coming accessories label, Box & Flea. This collaborative project from Jeremy Barbour, left, and Andrew Woodrum, right, emerged out of necessity and idle hands. When Barbour’s workload at his architecture firm, Tacklebox, lightened during the downturn last fall, it left him time to embellish everyday pieces he needed on the job, like canvas totes and tool bags.

He approached Woodrum, who runs the silkscreening collective and production facility, Fleaheart, in the Pencil Factory in Greenpoint, to help design and produce them, and soon the two added another timeless accessory to their fashion experiment: bandanas.

Using a silkscreening technique that extracts the dye from the blank squares of fabric, Box & Flea’s bandanas are a unique riff on the recent scarf trend, and a reminder that style can be simple and still make a huge impact. Their painstaking process takes a day to create a batch of 20, each one slightly different, and marked, as Barbour says, by “evidence of the hand.”

Soon after Barbour began wearing his fabulous bandanas, people took notice, and the label was born during the off hours of their day jobs (where the Box & Flea name comes from). From the beginning the Brooklyn community has helped get it off the ground. The Carroll Gardens store Smith + Butler helped introduce their collection this spring, and photographer Mikael Kennedy, who lives next to their Williamsburg studio, recently shot their look book, featuring models sourced from their local hangouts, the Rabbit Hole and Bakeri.

Box & Flea currently offers nine styles of bandanas in four different colors that appeal equally to men and women, all around $40. Sparrows, historical figures, and nature are the main sources of imagery and inspiration, evoking their childhoods in rural, Southwest Virginia among the mountains and farmland. Their attention to detail stems from their academic backgrounds — they met at Virginia Tech’s architecture program.

Customers who covet their designs, says Barbour, are those who appreciate “unique, handmade pieces that they know will last for years, and through wear will become truly their own.” The two are currently experimenting with new materials like leather and silk, but will continue to make what they call “tools for the everyday.” Though vague about their exact plans, we know at least to expect leather wallets by next summer.

In the meantime, Box & Flea’s bags and bandanas are available locally at Smith + Butler, Franny & Roey, and perhaps by Thursday, their new online store. Check their site later this week to find out the exact day.

Sent by Nicole. Text by Jessica Goldfond. All photos by Mikael Kennedy, except last by Jeremy Barbour via Cool Hunting.

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