Nanoprojects: a Rhone Workshop
Rhone has pioneered men’s performance/ lifestyle apparel space since 2014, and we're known for our luxury fabrics layered with textile technologies. Taking product innovation a step further, Rhone has launched our innovation lab: Nanoprojects. Created by Co-Founder and Chief Product Officer Kyle McClure, Nanoprojects pushes the creative limits of the Rhone brand and explores innovative designs, materials, and techniques. We’re so excited about the possibilities this lab has to offer, as well as the opportunity to flex our muscle in innovation, design, and performance.
Video by Matt Paul
To start, it’s pertinent to learn more about Kyle and Rachel Rozzi, Rhone’s Design Director for Lifestyle and Innovation, and how their working relationship came to be. We asked Rachel what it was like to interview with Kyle–here’s what she had to say.
“Meeting Kyle for the first time was unlike any other interview situation I’d ever been in. Initially, it was challenging to nail down a meeting with him and that’s really never changed. Kyle is always on the go and he’s involved in every creative aspect of the Rhone product and vision, so going into our meeting I knew I had limited time to connect and really show him what I was about. Once I got to meet with him, it was on the street in front of the Faherty store in Soho. He was outside, and we were clearly going to do this interview at his friends’ storefront. I was so completely thrown. Who was this guy setting up interviews sitting outside on the sidewalk with sunglasses and an iced coffee in hand? Needless to say, Kyle’s laid back demeanor kept me from expressing the intensity I usually have in first interviews. It was hard to take myself so seriously when I was sitting out in the sunlight, reclining back in an Adirondack chair. Clearly it worked out, and since then, I’ve come to learn that this is how he approaches life. The way he wants to direct settings and conversations really plays into this collection. Everything is connected to his life and who he cares about, with underlying tones of an unexpected playfulness that’s really genuine.”
How has that genuine unexpected playfulness and connection crossed over into Nanoprojects? In this sit down, we connected with Kyle and Rachel to learn more about the collection, the inspiration behind it, and what the innovation lab is all about.
What was the inspiration behind this collection?
Rachel: The inaugural Nanoprojects collection draws reference from the people and places that inspired Kyle’s interest in design and love of fashion, and features sophisticated pieces such as blazers, trousers, button down shirts, outerwear, and more.
Kyle: The inspiration behind Nanoprojects was always about creating an unconstrained reality for the design team. We didn’t want price point, category, end use, or even aesthetic to put a box around our innovation so it was important to create the space for that reality to exist.
How is this collection different from what we’ve seen from Rhone in the past? What sets it apart?
Rachel: It’s extremely personal to Kyle, based on his life and experiences, his family, friends, traveling. It’s really a manifestation of his personality into beautiful, timeless pieces, with a Rhone twist–a focus on performance based and quality fibers, workmanship, and intention.
Kyle: The answer is that not only do these pieces differ from what we’ve seen from Rhone they also differ from what you see from our competitors. We have climbed the ladder closer to luxury ready-to-wear brands with the fabrics, finishes and details of this collection. So while the design principles of classic silhouettes, innovative fabrics and thoughtful details are preserved we aren’t bound by price point, category, or end use.
Where did the name “Nano” come from? How did you get to “Nanoprojects?”
Kyle: Everyone else calls it their “lab” and that’s fine, but it's taken. We didn’t want to be derivative of the industry even in name. Nanotechnology deals with the manipulation of individual atoms. That type of precision and dedication to detail was so important for us and thus the name reflects that.
What was the biggest roadblock faced when creating this collection?
Rachel: Timing is always one of the biggest roadblocks - getting this collection done in a timely manner, but also the idea of getting people to trust us that we are doing great things with these styles that they’ve never seen before. This is not so much a present roadblock but something we have to work on convincing people for their own future, that they should need or want this very special item, or three, or five!
Kyle: Keeping it under wraps and secretive… we didn’t share this with many people in the company which slightly eskews how we like to do things at Rhone, but the workshop is a vault.
What’s the process like for creating a collection, from ideation to production?
Rachel: It sometimes feels like less of a process and more of an embracing of different modes; flexibility, patience, efficiency, quick-decision making, sticking to your guns about certain aspects of quality, and workmanship. It’s definitely a keep-your-mind-open and “go with the flow” type of process but always having the core principles of the “Why?” of the collection in mind.
Kyle: It is agony and ecstasy. We are working across borders and language barriers with various vendors and to translate what is in our minds to what is produced is agonizing especially when you care about every detail being just so.
If someone asked you to describe this collection in one word, what would it be?
Can you elaborate on what is meant by “innovation lab?" Why specifically 'lab'? In reference to how we make the product?
Rachel: It’s truly a lab atmosphere–we’re testing limits and functionality constantly in regards to fabric, construction, fit, and fiber performance. We’re definitely testing limits for our own design and production team in terms of how to get these pieces made to the best of our abilities, and working with fabrics and trim we’ve not traditionally shown the customer before.
Kyle: In some cases we are actually looking at test tubes of color that are being created in the dye house in Italy… so it's art and science, and truly amazing.
Where do you see Nano headed for Rhone? How do you see it evolving?
KYLE: Nanoprojects provides the space and ability for Rhone to do absolutely anything. It is unconstrained.
If you could only wear two things from the collection, what would they be? Why?
Kyle: Blazer and Denim Wash Pants…they are transcendent.
Where are the majority of these clothes being made?
Kyle: We sourced fabric from England, Italy, and Japan and made the pieces mostly in Italy and Portugal with the exception of the two pieces using Japanese fabric.
Photos Courtesy of Rhone & Aaron Colussi
Only three pieces in the collection will have "Rhone" on them. We know this is intentional but as a customer, we ask “why?” How does this brand fit into Rhone and how does it fit into my lifestyle (thinking in terms of the contrast between Rhone brand and Nano Collection)?
Kyle: This is a luxury offering from the brand and is for discerning customers looking for something extra special. As such, the minimalist branding on the inaugural collection creates even greater sophistication from our already clean and sophisticated brand. Nanoprojects fits in with our ethos of premium performance and even adheres to our design ethos of classic silhouettes with innovative fabric. But it is a cut above, so it will fit in but the fabrics and dye techniques are exceedingly special.
The price point of this collection is much higher than what Rhone normally puts out. What about these pieces elevates them to match that price tag?
Rachel: From the elemental parts of the clothing itself, the fibers and fabric are extremely high end and have tons of thought put into them and the techniques we’ve applied are handcrafted and hand applied for some of these pieces. Our construction is evocative of bespoke and classic menswear and tailoring which takes a lot of detail work. There is just so much we’ve put into these pieces, and the amount of skilled hands that have touched them along the way is where the value really lies in each garment.