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…

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