Friday, March 25, 2016

World Premiere: Garrett Neff: Male SuperModel to Designer!

When Garrett Neff was growing up, there were two people he particularly looked up to in his family, his grandfather and his uncle John, the former a World War II veteran and the latter a Navy SEAL who served in Vietnam. A Delaware native, Neff spent many childhood summers with the two, learning to fish and dig for clams just off a family property in Katama, a residential area on Martha’s Vineyard.
Now a highly successful model with roughly a decade of experience in the industry, Neff brought together his past and present yesterday when he presented his first swimwear collection, inspired by his grandfather, his uncle, and those youthful summers, in a packed presentation at the rooftop pool at the James Hotel in Soho, helping to close out the opening day of New York’s first men’s fashion week.

Long a favorite face of all-American brands like Calvin Klein and Ralph Lauren, Neff says his own style hews lightly to a preppy, New England aesthetic, with a vintage twist, a predilection which can be seen in his designs for KATAMA, from trunks inspired by running and tennis shorts to a pair with details pulled from his uncle’s old military gear. “KATAMA has more of a Northeastern American vibe, whereas a lot of the other brands that I’m seeing are sort of Mediterranean or tropical,” Neff explains. “It’s for the sort of guy who likes to mix old and new. A lot of it almost feels like a throwback.”

Neff says he first considered launching a swimwear line when he noticed a gap in the market after years of modeling trunks himself. “I feel like there’s some swim brands that are marketing themselves as chic and then some that are sporty, but nothing really told the full story for me and captured the vibe that I felt I wanted to see in the market,” he says.
“It gave me a lot of confidence because even the best-selling swimwear brands, they haven’t made everything.”

Neff’s unique approach to design is also an intensely personal one. In discussing his inspirations, he returns again and again to his grandfather and his “outdoorsy” uncle, to his many years as a tennis player, to a canoe he often saw in old family photos—the source for the bright yellow that appears in his first collection.
Camouflage is rethought in blue, and even other abstract-looking prints are actually digitally printed photos of red barn sidings and cedar shakes, references to New England’s built environment that, for Neff, feels like a second home. “It’s more about the sorts of buildings you would see in the Northeast, those types of places I felt like I wanted to capture because when you see these types of exteriors, there’s already this feeling,” he says. “Somebody like me can identify with that. Somebody else may not be able to, but I wanted to include them for the first season because these are important things to me.”

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