Saturday, June 30, 2012

Augustine Emuwa (Knits & Knotts)

(Augustine Emuwa himself)

OntFront proudly introduces the inspiring neckwear label Knits & Knotts from Chicago to the Netherlands. To find out more about the man behind the brand (Augustine Emuwa), we did a small interview with him. Here goes:

Can you tell us about your heritage and how this influences your sense of style?
My mother is a southerner from the USA and my father is from Nigeria.  Every few summers, he’d take me overseas to the heavily British influenced country.  On many occasions, we would spend a day/ two layover time in the UK! On a specific trip, when I was 14, UK’s style captured my attention.  For the first time, I saw how rich menswear was and I understood right then what my monetarily poor father was trying so hard to emulate. As a born American, there were so many very different style codes totally disconnected from the aforementioned, especially for  Urban minorities..  City life showed me at young age that f you want to be different, you’ve got to have the thickest skin ever!!!  While kids on my block emulated hip-hop artists and drug bosses, I emulated my dad.  After transitioning through many style fads/ trends centered around hip-hop and neo soul culture,  I found my home in Neckwear-  The ultimate symbol of sophistication, agelessness, etc..  I strategically chose neckwear as a start because of the endless possibilities with such a small but imperative details. Certain neckwear, despite the fact that its labeled an accessory, determines the look..  For example, how many terribly tailored guys do you see fighting over a slim / knit tie.  If a man wears a tie, pocket square, bowtie, etc.  you can clearly see his level of taste.

How did you come up with the concept for K&K?
Before the “haberdashery” thing became popular here in the states, I was into bowties, slim ties, etc..  K&K was birthed because I couldn’t find what I wanted in neckwear..  Things were too dressy (ie traditional silks) or too cheap (ie polyester)  I felt that to embody the urban male, and sometimes woman, you must produce neckwear that’s classic and timeless, yet still somewhat fashion forward. The first bowtie I ever made was created out of knit cotton. Hence the “Knits” of Knits&Knotts.  The knotts part is pretty self-explanatory.  The reason the knit bowtie was so special to me is because it suited me so well..  I rarely wore suits back then and was heavy into denim.  The fabric allowed me to dress up but be dressed down..  That’s what I liked the most. I vowed then to always make neckwear that could be worn for different occasions which can be accomplished with unique fabrics.   Today, K&K does use traditional fabrics like brocades, silks, velvets, etc.  but, we have the most fun with fabrics that aren’t typical of high volume neckwear manufacturers..  This is why we love hand making so much! There’s more room to be creative..  

What is the role of neck wear in menswear to you?
An old Bespoke Tailor in DC told me that once a man FINALLY gets tailoring down, the neckwear and other fabric accessories provide the POP!  In my opinion good menswear is timeless and once a man enters the realm of being well dressed, WHAT NEXT?..  Neckwear makes its fun, trendy, cool, serious, & a gamet of other things.. Neckwear makes an impression..  In our minds, we truly feel that clothing is becoming the accessory.. 

How would you like to grow and expand K&K in future?
We want to stay a gentleman’s (& sometimes woman’s) essentials brand. Meaning that even if we move passed neckwear, which we may, we still hope to create goods that are essential for a complete closet. Our next offering outside of neckwear may possibly be a new twist on the two season Baracuta Jacket… Every man should have a baracuta!!  LOL-

In addition, we have also been considering the not for profit world, using neckwear as a way to fund raise for specific causes (IE – bowties for books, etiquette classes for urban boys, etc).  

Can you tell us about the story of the latest collection?
Each collection isn’t just a story, it’s a lesson to the average guy that needs the extra nudge to stay in the loop about menswear basics.  I created this line, because I wanted to create something that had staying power, something that was urban prep..  In the states, and abroad, people should own clothing that embodies classic style..  American style, which I believe was birthed by English style, carries a certain aura.  Its classic, rebellious, clean, functional, modern, etc..  I wanted to envoke that feeling in each piece within the Americana collection..  (See the first page of the lookbook)

Can you show us your favorite piece from the Americana collection and explain why?
I love the camo slim tie, but my favorite piece is definitely the American Weave (red/ white woven linen square bottom tie).  Its thick, looks good with denim, chinos, a double breasted blazer, and stands out as a fabric that’s respected, but rarely used for ties..  I feel like this tie is the epitome of what K&K is trying to do with neckwear…

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Franky Boateng (Flybird)

(Franky Boateng himself)

Quite recently we decided to collaborate with the talented Franky Boateng from Flybird (leather goods). Here's an interview we did with him to let you in on his world:

Can you tell us more about Flybird being handcrafted here in the Netherlands? (who makes it, where, how?)

Actually, I make everything myself. I started making leather wallets in 2006. In 2009 I created my first backpack what was a great success for me and the people around me. From there I started creating a team so we could make more things, because its not easy to make everything alone. Most of the time I am sitting behind the sewing machine and the other people are cutting everything out of the leather.

What kind of person do you consider yourself and how does this reflect in your work?

I consider myself as a artistic person, working hard and enjoying the small things in life.
I don't need much in life, only a bag where I can put my stuff in.The reason that I make bags is because I am not home that much and there's always a reason to go somewhere. I'm not a type that stays home and watch tv. In 2005 I had no house for 5 months so I traveled with different kind of bags I made a mini bag to put my small things in and now it is just a part of my life.
That all changed with my company Flybird. I work extremely hard. After that I sport and finish up with meditation and sleep.

Where does your passion for leather come from and why do you love this material?

My mom always went to Italy to buy leather bags and shoes I liked the smell of it. And it's something I have a natural feeling with. The more you wear leather, the more it comes alive. And I'm so proud to give life to every bag I design.

What do you want to add to the market of bags with your label Flybird?

I want Flybird bags to be a part of your life. A bag is not just a bag. Every bag has its story.
It's something you carry with you all the time with your stuff in it. It has to be your style. It must live and be natural and free. Flybird bags are really made for real people that live life. It's not a fashion or trend.

Who and what inspires you?

Nature and worldly pictures of people inspire me.
In pictures you see emotions and different kinds of styles I like that because then I see things that I have in common with different people. The nature always inspires me. Especially the colors.

Where would you like to be with your label in 10 years?

In 10 years I want everybody to be aware of Flybird and were it stand for and that they made it a part of their life.
Freedom, artistic life, Own Style.

Can you add a picture of your favorite design so far and tell us why?

The Smith & Wesson Model 36 bag
The name Smith & Wesson comes from the classic revolvers from 1927. I was inspired by its steel and old brown appearance. Thinking about a bag that would catch the eye of a rusty cowboy from 1927. If I see this bag I get the feeling that it's an old bag and that is what I intended to do.

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Brixton hats at the OntFront store

Being a former skateboarder, we always keep a close eye on the sickest skateboard brands. One of them is Brixton from LA. Dutch legendary skater Aldo Niemeijer is now representing the brand here in the Netherlands! So check out our small hat collection from Brixton here.

Inspired by music, culture, and the people who surround them, Brixton is the collaboration of three friends who wanted to convey their lifestyle through unique products.
Created in 2004, the timeless and clean design of the Brixton collection is hard to duplicate and comes in a variety of styles that appeal to the individual in a modern yet traditional way. Each piece is constructed with the commitment to bringing the customer a high quality and limited product that they'll want to hold onto forever.

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

Marnix Postma

(Marnix Postma himself)

Marnix Postma is a photographer and true OntFront family. He has been working with OntFront from the very start. The latest work he did for us was the OntFront x G-shock video. We thought is was about time to shed some more light on him by doing an interview. So here goes:

What do you stand for as a photographer?
I stand for making high end work that helps me grow in my personal quest to reach a deeper understanding of my self.

Can you show us an example of your latest work and explain the concept behind it?
My concepts are a combination of things I encounter in daily life and one or more methods to get ideas from an unconscious place inside of me. This particular concept was first developed for Hate Magazine (Berlin) and started with a tarot laying. Because of the dark nature of this magazine, I moved in this direction and the cards gave me several starting points, like decadence etcetera.
As soon as my girlfriend, Galya Gisca, got involved, who did the illustration, the idea of a guy in women's clothing arose, inspired by Grace Jones and Chris Tucker in his role in 'The Fifth Element. At the time a lot of photographers were simultaneously experimenting with long shutter speeds and movement, so was I.
Later these vague shapes of the doubled images gave Galya the motive to illustrate it the way she did, which turned out to be outstanding. Also the androgynous idea was coming up, so the combination of all these factors made this series very popular. And the series was published in Schön! Magazine #11.