"Shop Talk" is a series of atelier tell-alls (or, you know, studio visits) where we sit and chat with some of today's best designers–who also happen to be our neighbors! In our second installment, we check in with cool dude duo Ricky Hendry & Marc Daniels of ISAORA.
If you thought good ideas (nevermind great
ideas) rarely began with a drunken weekend in Vegas, I'd be right there with you. But! I also know firsthand that this elusive .0001% does indeed exist–because I found it on the west side of Manhattan on my trip to see the home of snow-inspired, high-performance brand ISAORA
When you regard the laser-cut detailing, expert construction, and minimalist palette of an ISAORA piece, you might guess that the brand's beginning was linked to a visit to the laboratory or maybe an inspiring, slope-side cruise some winter vacation. But it actually all goes back to a trip Ricky and Marc took to the electric desert to attend a sportswear trade show of sorts. Meant–ostensibly–to showcase the best and brightest in today's tech-infused activewear, the Vegas display was so much "the opposite of inspiring" for the two that all their conversations about starting their own brand suddenly became urgent.
Luckily, what happened in Vegas didn't stay in Vegas, and for that, we have the fashion-forward, performance-driven sportswear that comes inspired by the mountains and la mode
alike. Read on for my interview with the guys, as well as some visuals of their space (which involve a vintage metallic periwinkle flightsuit, a tower of zippers, sneak peeks at future collections, and an alligator stapler–to call out a few!).
How did you two meet?
Marc: We met about four and half years ago through a mutual friend that Ricky was working with at the time. I think we were both itching to get involved in a new venture, and after many a pow-wow, a healthy number of pints, and one inappropriately drunk Las Vegas evening, we decided to go all in (with ISAORA that is).
Where does the name ISAORA come from?
Marc: Had we known how many people would ask this very question, we probably would have gone with something else – but I’ll give you the short version. When I was younger, I spent a lot of time in Argentina and there was a very simple Spanish (or as they prefer to say, Castellano) expression that I always enjoyed because of the way it was used. The expression Ahora Sí
–which we all can translate literally (I hope) to mean "Now Yes"–is often used as an enthusiastic rally cry of sorts to mean "Now Is The Time" or "Just Like That, Come On, Let’s Go." So, after a lot of time talking about what we wanted to create, the fact was we were both pretty sick of talking about it and wanted to get moving on it. So, the Spanglish part of my brain got to thinking, and out came "ISAORA."
How did you get started working with high-tech materials?
Marc: Well, we always knew we wanted to have a technical edge to our designs–after all, the concept for ISAORA was based on our inability to identify with brands that made technical clothes that we actually wanted to wear. If we wanted to buy a new snowboard get-up, we had to conform to the baggy, bright, and (generally speaking) wicked ugly or completely awful options available to us. If we had to walk to work in NYC through a driving rainstorm, we wanted more than Patagonia (especially with my penchant for buying $6-dollar umbrellas that last 7-10 days when I’m lucky). So really, and getting back to your question, it was as simple as looking for the materials–nearly all of which come from Japan or Italy.
What personally fascinates you about high-performance sportwear?
Marc: Well, I think what we probably enjoy most about this new category of "advanced" sportswear is that functionality and good looks don't have to be at odds with one another. In the winter, we have one foot on concrete and the other on the mountain; in the summer, we usually swap out the mountain for the sand, so we make clothes that work, look, feel, and perform wherever your pleasure takes you.
If ISAORA were an acronym, what would it stand for?
Marc: Uh, man.
Who is your furry friend in the last page of the SS11 lookbook?
Marc: That little monster is Kioko, the most beautiful, sweetest, attention-needy Rhodesian Ridgeback in the entire world. I got her a year and a half ago, and she pretty much has run my life since. Some people call her Schmooper, Schmoko, Schmoker. As some may already know, if you come into our studio/office and don’t play with her for at least 2 minutes, you will most definitely be hearing her displeasure. (She even has her own Facebook page
it takes two