Officially launched in June, Old School Shirt Makers is a New York based line of men’s dress shirts, created by Kevin Stewart. The modern shirts are an interpretation of Americana, using classic detailing as well as paying homage to the pizzazz of the ’50s and ’60s. Stewart comes from an extensive fashion background, having served as the Fashion and Style Director for some of the largest titles in the publishing world, including Vibe and Details. He also worked as a visual merchandiser for luxury retailers such as Saks Fifth Avenue and Barney’s. Taking his experience and fashion creativity to the forefront, Stewart decided to go back to his roots as a designer and Old School Shirt Makers is the result. Manhattan with a Twist talked fashion with the talented Mr. Stewart and here’s what he had to say!
What made you want to launch Old School Shirt Makers?
Roger Charles New York was launched 7 years ago. After 20 years in men’s fashion publishing, working with designer clothing, I felt it was time to make my own. I started with a shirt! OLD SCHOOL SHIRT MAKERS was born on New Years eve 2012. I wanted to reboot the company and carry on with the second label that was in a ROGER CHARLES shirts.
How much has NY influenced you as a designer?
New York has not been the place of influence, it’s our American historical references, American style. Western detailing, trim and snaps. To look at the shirts closely you can see the influence of Americana with echoes of the past. It is set in the modern context with American craftsmenship. For example, note the use of club collars, cocktail cuffs and nicely rolled button down collars. My previous work experience as a display artist, an assistant to the Fashion Director at Saks Fifth Ave and finally, covering men’s markets in publishing as Fashion Director, has helped me witness 30 years of men’s fashion in New York City.
Why the transition from publishing to designing?
I wanted to bring another point of view to the market because of my love of men’s clothing. I knew it would be an authentic point of view, rooted in our way of dressing. I also felt that due to my experiences in fashion publishing, I had an eye for styling and had a certain taste level that could be interpreted in a modern classic shirt.
What can people get from your line that they can’t get elsewhere?
I believe making a shirt in America gives me an advantage; it’s the right thing to do! The design aesthetic is attractive, as well. The shirts are for a confident man who wants a shirt that makes him look great; in fit and pattern and overall concept. I’m an American shirt maker and that comes across in the design. I make my shirts with the American man in mind, comfortable, well fit shaped, not fitted and all around, well tailored.
Do you have a favorite shirt in the collection?
Yes. I have gravitated toward the Joe Strummer sleeveless shirt. I have tattoos and show them off. I have always been a huge CLASH fan. Strummer wore sleeveless shirts–that was part of The Clash style. Doing push ups have helped, as well. I like the rock and roll and rock star way of dressing. It’s that swag that I like! I do also make a true dress shirt at the same time for a man to pair with a suit. I’m a bit in both worlds myself, I always have been!
When will the women’s line launch and what can we expect to see?
Women’s has been a long, thought out venture. I have been thinking about this for 7 years now. OSSM Women’s will be sexy, for a women who stops traffic when she walks by. The shirts will have shape and tailoring. The fabrics will be somewhat different then the men’s collection. My muses have always been sexy, strong, iconic women. The women’s capsule collection will show itself in the holiday season. The shirts will have some of the men’s collection accents, so there will be synergy. I had been asking women for years what they liked in a shirt. The answer was consistently, they did not want frilly feminine details. They want a shirt. So I’ll make women’s shirts, the OLD SCHOOL SHIRT MAKERS way!
It’s clear that Kevin Stewart has impeccable fashion sense and we can’t wait to check out the women’s line coming soon! In the meantime, make sure to shop the menswear collection here.