Rob Garcia, creative director and founder of luxury sports wear brand En Noir, is an underdog. An easy guy to root for, especially considering that this is a guy who gets away with selling $1,000 gym shorts. On one hand, he looks like you’d expect a high fashion innovative and artistic creative director to look like. Tall, strong, skinny-as-hell jeans, over sized black tee-shirt, and littered in eye grabbing black and grey tattoos. But his personal history reveals much more modest beginnings. Wanting this designer to succeed so much made it all the more glorious that his presentation of the En Noir 2015 Spring line was one of the more surprising and exciting men’s collections of the entirety of New York Fashion Week.
Garcia was named by GQ this year as one of the best new designers in the country. And in the accompanying video he describes his foray into fashion. Normally, you think that the prodigy designers, everyone from Yves Saint Laurent to Alexander Wang, were latched onto their creative path from a very early age, and as such that is often the case. Not so much with Garcia. Garcia’s back story is about as “regular guy” as any designer out there. He grew up in Southern California and was turned onto skateboarding by his pro skater father. He loved his Vans and Dickie’s trousers but he hardly put much time into his look. Even less fashion-y was the fact that he was an outstanding football player, eventually being recruited to play at San Diego State University. Injuries shorted his career, and he was left thinking of what to do. Back to his skateboarding influenced street style, he attacked men’s street wear with utter conviction, “In high fashion you can’t fake it,” he says in the video.
He applied his meticulously crafted vision of streetwear first with west coast line Black Scale, but in 2012 he founded En Noir, delivering perfect sportswear pieces with sometimes jaw dropping price tags only matched by their perfect fits. Maybe you can’t justify buying sweat pants for that much money, but today’s hip-hop icons can, and En Noir proves that a rapper’s approval goes a long way. The label got off to a slow start, but eventually Kanye West took notice of those black leather sweat pants that everyone loved when he was first photographed wearing them. When Kanye started getting filmed with them, fellow rapper A$AP Rocky wanted a pair. Next thing you know, En Noir was exploding, doing shows in New York, Paris and every fashion city in between.
Garcia considers Hedi Slimane to be the greatest designer ever, and he is definitely in line with Slimane in that it seems every single collection of his is a complete 360 degree turnaround from the last. Leave it to the guy who has made tee-shirts a $700 commodity. Garcia has almost no leather goods shown in the new line despite the fact that his company that has become synonymous with leather sporting goods. In fact, the Spring 2015 collection had more colors than black with lots of cool jumpsuits, work shorts, and perfect sweats.
Garcia most have known that this would be a controversial move for him, and as such broke the bank in terms of how he was going to present the show. RUSK and its famous creative director Gerard Caruso handled make-up and hair, coming up with a look that was urban and elegant in line with En Noir’s ethos but also noticeably lighter and more California-inspired than previous shows.
Caruso, tall, ponytailed, and highly personable, was happy to elaborate on his beauty scheme for En Noir, “We wanted it to look very Venice Beach,” he says, “We wanted the sharp lines of barbering but the salon-styled volume, so we are going somewhere in between, to give off a sharp but beach-y look.”
Garcia looked noticeably nervous while strutting around the Pier 90 set designed for the show, full with Jeff Koons-esque neon religious iconography. Once people started rolling in however, things became palpably less tense.
In attendance were street style god and Lanvin designer Nick Wooster, GQ editor-in-chief Jim Nelson, GQ creative director Jim Moore, NBA superstar Russell Westbrook, and many more. As the runway started rolling, people appeared surprised by the lack of leather and the brightness of the maroon colored workwear and jumpsuits, but positively delighted by the presentation.
En Noir’s New York Fashion Week show proved another huge win for this promising brand, and it couldn’t be happening to a nicer guy than Rob Garcia.