If Jacques Cousteau were alive and looking to update his wardrobe, he would feel right at home inside Kai D. Utility on Grand Street in Williamsburg. Menswear designer Kai Fan has filled his new shop with workwear pieces for the explorer in all of us–even the ones without a Y chromosome (it’s an ideal place for a female shopper to pick up oversized knits and work shirts other than her boyfriend’s closet). Expeditionists aside, Fan’s store is quickly becoming the go-to place for the city’s creative class who are looking for classic menswear pieces that won’t come apart at the seams at season’s end.
Fan’s designs are functional with military and utilitarian influences-he’s reimagined timeless wardrobe staples from the turn of the 20th century, like waistcoats, trousers, leather-strap suspenders and ties that are modern in cut and tailoring–slim fitted with clean silhouettes executed in rich fabrics (Italian wool and cashmere, cotton twill and moleskin). Fan says he designs with the New American Artisan in mind, a muse he devised after completing a photo project of the same name.
“Basically, I sought out people who were doing their own thing–that could be creating a product or mastering their craft,” he explains. “I sought out interesting people I could photograph in my cloths and put together a look book. I had a conversation with them, found out their story, then I asked them to put together two outfits from my collection. It turned out, every single person was from Brooklyn.” (more…)