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Q+A with Marc Daniels of ISAORA

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Q+A with Marc Daniels, ISAORA

Words and photos by Pete Anderson


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Romantics (in the 19th C English lit/art tradition) would probably venture that the raw state of nature is a universal muse for expression--design being no exception. But clothing created for the outdoor adventurer has been dominated by functional forms for a long time. There's a beauty in that, but research and progress in the fields of technical materials over the last couple of decades have given designers a freer hand and a new canvas for their work, just as they have presented wearers with the gifts of more comfort, freer movement, and less weight to carry around.

Isaora has been throwing paint on that canvas for a few years now, and their sportswear has drawn more and more compliments season after season, for its innovative design, use of weatherproof fabrics, and its value. Half of the Isaora team, Marc Daniels, took some time to talk with us about the brand's origins and intentions.

Styleforum: You and Ricky Hendry started Isaora a few years back. Most of our readers are at least a little familiar with Isaora's blend of performance and design, but how did you two come to work together on Isaora?

Marc Daniels: Ricky and I met through a mutual friend about 4½ years ago. At the time I had begun to develop a loose concept for a brand that would take a fresh look at performance outwear, but I had no practical experience in the clothing/fashion world. Having spent the previous 7 years working in the high-tech industry, developing user interface designs I knew little about what it would take to go from concept to reality. So when we were introduced, calling it fortuitous timing would be understatement. We have been great friends ever since.


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Isaora Spring 2012 field jacket

You've said that Isaora is "neither a fashion brand trying to make technical clothes, nor a snowboard/outdoor brand morphing into a fashion line." How do you feel fashion design and technical / performance concerns push and pull at each other in Isaora's collections?

To date, it seems like these two categories, "technical" and "fashion," have been mutually exclusive. In other words, you sort of had to pick which side of the fence you were on and do that. To us, this really never made sense, and we’ve tried to build a certain level of credibility in both worlds. We’re both intrigued by the research and innovation that goes into technical fabrics and performance construction but it’s rare to see that combined (at least successfully) with the less tangible but equally detailed consideration of a fashion collection.


Although fashion and technical aspects may have been mutually exclusive, that seems to be less the case these days, as there are a number of other brands out there with similar aims of balancing performance and design--Veilance, Outlier, Nau, for example--how does Isaora separate from the pack?

When we initially set out, we definitely had a heavier snowboard component to our identity, while that remains part of our winter-soul (and always will), we’ve tried hard to think bigger than that. We felt that one of the reasons performance clothing has never been taken seriously in a fashion context is that the finished product tends to be rather clinical and sterile. So we try hard to develop and source materials that have a little something extra, or in the case of our garment dyed jackets, adding treatments to give things a more natural feel, while still maintaining the performance integrity. We really like the juxtaposition of technical and natural - the urban outdoors.


Isaora takes advantage of a lot of well-known tech fabrics from makers like Schoeller, for example. For consumers who are used to buying Gore Tex etc. type stuff, that's not new territory. But for fashion consumers, there can be a mental disconnect when a high-quality piece is featherweight; we can be conditioned to think lots of wool and leather equals high quality. How does Isaora deal with that perception?

The notion that thick and heavy mean top quality certainly persists—but we encourage people to try on our pieces, once they do, they’re usually either sweating bullets or quickly sold.

Isaora has used color-change and dip-dye techniques on unusual fabrics. Can you talk a little about special treatments or dyes you've used to get particular effects?

One of our signature techniques has been to garment dye many of our insulated jackets. We love the irregular, natural effect it creates. The process we use is quite special because whether we use it on a down jacket or a high performance synthetic-fill piece, we’re able to keep the technical integrity completely intact.


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We got a look at some of your spring 2012 line at the Medium Concepts space, and dug fall 2011. Really liked some of the jackets and the dyed swim trunks. Any pieces you're particularly proud of for this fall or next spring?

The welded swimshorts are pretty cool, but the garment dyed ultra-light insulated jackets are really special.


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Personally, I ski, and not well. I stick mostly to the east coast. As an snowboard guy, where's your favorite spot to get on the slopes?

No worries, skiers are people too. Hmmm. Well, having grown up on the east coast (Boston), going to Vermont nearly very weekend was quite routine, but these days I try hard to avoid east coast mountains at all costs. Mammoth is hard to beat, Vail is near and dear to my heart because I have family that lives there, but nothing compares to Valdez, AK.

Thanks to Mark, Patrick Goodspeed, and ISAORA. ISAORA is available at Roden Gray, Beams Japan, Opening Ceremony, Oki-Ni, and through their own web shop.
post #2 of 2
Has anyone ever seen this jacket in person before?

http://www.ebay.com/itm/251308322437?ssPageName=STRK:MESELX:IT&_trksid=p3984.m1555.l2649
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