Wednesday, December 30, 2009

Interview: The Windmill Club

When I stumbled upon The Windmill Club I was just as enthralled as I was curious.  After watching their A/W '09 teaser video more times than I care to share I contacted owner and designer Kevin Burrows for more information.  After speaking with Kevin extensively about himself and his brand my appreciation for everything he was doing and planned to do only grew.  Kevin is an extremely intelligent guy whose talents are matched with an ambition to do great things within the realm of menswear.  He couldn't have been any nicer and our conversation touched upon many things ranging from his heritage, to his background and all the way back to his personal aesthetics.  He is the perfect example of someone who embraces his own personal style and is willing to go out on a limb and share that with the world.  I left our conversation excited for everything The Windmill Club is attempting to do and just flat out inspired.  Kevin was nice enough to do a formal interview, as well, and I hope it helps shed some light on a project that will in turn inspire and excite you as much as it did me.

L: Can you speak on your background in both design and otherwise.

K: My first formal experience in design was this past summer when I was interning at Apolis Activism. The Parton brothers are truly outstanding guys and a blast to work with. It was a great introduction to menswear and the industry and I can't thank them enough. As far as general background, I grew up in Southern California and I'm currently based on the East Coast about to finish up my senior year at Harvard.

L: To those unfamiliar with The Windmill Club can you explain the brand.

K: The Windmill Club is small line of ties and bow ties made in the USA. The first collection is Autumn/Winter 09 and consists of six ties and two bow ties. I also run a side blog where I post photos, music, and everything else that inspires the brand.

L: Assuming you didn't wake up one morning with the epiphany of starting your own neckwear line can you talk a little about your motivation behind starting The Windmill Club.

K: It's been an interesting progression to be sure. It wasn't until the past couple years that I really got into menswear and design largely in part from reading various blogs. It started with me getting into streetwear and brands like The Hundreds, Only NY, and in particular The Award Tour (shouts to Phil and the great stuff he's doing over there). At a point in time during the summer before junior year I kind of got fed up with a lot of stuff I was seeing and couldn't really find pieces that worked with the style I was trying to create. So junior year I started up the blog and did a small run of graphic t-shirts that I sold to friends (kind of a beta-test). The Windmill Club really solidified this past summer when I was interning with the guys at Apolis Activism. Working in menswear and talking with them really helped to focus my vision for The Windmill Club and what I wanted to create with the line.

L: From what I've seen of the line it appears both heritage and collegiate inspired.  Can you boil down The Windmill Club's aesthetics?

K: I definitely draw from a heritage and classic college aesthetic. Also thrown into the mix is my dutch heritage (hence the name) and my appreciation of the cats who were killing it way before I was born.

L: As a designer what or who do you look to for inspiration?

K: I read a good number of menswear and style blogs which are probably my main source of inspiration on a daily basis. I've recently been looking at a lot of older photography as well as films from the 60's and 70's which were drenched with style.

L: Do you have a specific creative process and if so can you break it down for me?

K: What's most important is that I have strong vision of what I want before starting on a project. For example, I have a gigantic folder on my laptop that is filled with any images I come across that catch my eye. Sometimes it's a whole look, others just a detail or often the tone that the image evokes. When starting on something, I'll go through and pull out the shots that have the feeling I want. I can't necessarily describe the look or the style but I can recognize it and try to re-create it in what I'm working on.

L: Manufacturing, especially of the domestic variety, is a hot button topic in the menswear community.  Can you discuss the processes that go into making a Windmill Club tie?

K: Sure. For the fall line all of production was done in Los Angeles. I sourced my fabrics at a shop that stocks surplus from various productions. From there I worked back and forth with a small manufacture (the guys at Apolis were kind enough to put me in touch with the shop where their ties are made) to get the sizing and details right and then the ties were hand crafted at their workshop. It was important for me to produce the ties locally so that I could be there in person and get to know the people crafting the products. Also, the added benefit of supporting American businesses is a definite plus.

L: Who do you envision knotting up one of your ties? Who is the Windmill Club customer?

K: The Windmill Club customer is a member of this new group of young men who appreciate classic style and what it means to dress well. Men who seek out real substance and adventure in their lives.

L: Both iconic brands, such as Polo by Ralph Lauren, and current stalwarts, such as Band of Outsiders, started with neckwear before expanding their line.  Is this the direction you see The Windmill Club going?

K: For sure. I'm going to focus on neckwear for the time being, but down the road if the opportunity is there I would love the chance to work on expanding into a larger collection. It'd definitley be a lot of fun to throw my twist onto some other menswear staples.

L: What can we expect from The Windmill Club in both the not so distant and distant future?

K: In the not so distant future, we'll be launching our online shop on January 10th (in the meantime orders can be done via email directly). As for the distant future, I see The Windmill Club continuing to produce quality menswear pieces including an expanded collection but also working on presenting the line through more adventurous projects be it video or otherwise.


[Editor's Note: Expect a hands on review of The Windmill Club's neckwear very soon. It's The Windmill Club. Damn straight.]