“I don’t like calling it workwear,” says Evan Kinori. We’re standing in his beautiful studio loft in San Francisco, and I’m trying to do the horrible media thing where we pigeonhole something special using as few words as possible.
“It just has so many strong…connotations,” he finishes. “Let’s call it…well-made clothing for everyday life.”
This intentional vagueness is a better descriptor than my SEO-verified marketing lingo. Evan Kinori’s line of beautifully clean and comfortable garments is vague, in a pleasant way – even anonymous. Built for everyone, to wear everywhere.
The garments are familiar on first look: a chore jacket. A four-pocket pant. An overshirt. But it’s the details – or their absence – that make the clothes special. Consider the four pocket pants that I wear while writing this. No one but me will ever see the corduroy waistband facing or the veg-tan leather-backed buttons on the fly. Few will appreciate the beautifully finished seam that shows when I roll the pant cuff, or the subtle darting of the waist, or how good your hand feels in the pocket. It doesn’t matter: I appreciate these gestures, and that’s what matters.
Consider also Evan’s reversible denim jacket, a design he’s played with a handful of times since launching his brand. Denim on one side, and wool (or twill, or whatever strikes his fancy) on the other, the jacket is fully reversible – including double-faced buttons to preserve the left-sided buttoning stance, should the wearer want to swap them. Said wooden buttons are hand-dyed in indigo on the roof of the building.
We could certainly draw parallels to other brands, such as Margaret Howell’s chic utilitarianism or even Adam Kimmel’s short-lived workwear experiments, but that would be short-sighted. The back wall of Evan’s studio displays a collection of beautiful vintage garments, ranging from patchwork noragi to Swedish military anoraks to vintage baseball shirts, and that intelligent cosmopolitanism is much more illuminating of the product than sideways references to other brands. Evan tells me that it helped that he “Knew what he wanted to make” before going to patterning school to learn how to make it. He has taken available inspiration, stripped it down, and re-focused the results – and the results are polished.
The clothes themselves are something of a blank slate, made to showcase the process and the fabric. They are beautiful as individual objects, and Evan takes great pride in the clean construction. Each piece is billed as looking “just as nice on the inside as it does on the outside,” and it rings true for everything I saw. Beyond that, Evan encourages various styling options. He himself prefers to wear an oversized pant with a tighter top, but his website shows how items fit across a range of sizes. The pair of pants I purchased are effectively one size up, but many people buy two full sizes up for extra roominess.
Evan calls the seasons his “editions.” Each piece he makes is part of a numbered run, and once they’re gone there’s no guarantee they’re coming back. He’ll keep the pattern – say, the four-pocket relaxed-leg overpant, based on a US Navy model – but change the fabric as inspiration strikes him. This season it’s a black Japanese twill, and he’s done rinsed denims, double-indigo twills (the pair I own), and un-dyed twill.
After laying out his ideas and his fabric on the massive drafting table at the back of the studio, he sews the samples and some of the retail pieces himself on an unassuming Juki sewing machine. The rest are produced by a small factory in LA, but Evan double-checks each piece before sending them out to the handful of retailers he works with: one in San Francisco, two in LA, and three in Japan.
He’s focusing on growing the brand slowly, hand-picking his partners the same way he hand picks the fabrics. Because of it, the brand is intensely personal and intensely compelling. This is one young maker I recommend keeping an eye on – despite the familiar shapes, the clothes are forward-looking, and it’s my guess that we’ll be seeing more of Evan in the near future.
Evan’s most recent releases are up now on his website, including a lookbook featuring the new products. Here are a few shots, but you can see the full thing, as well as several beautifully-shot videos, at EvanKinori.com.
You can watch a great video on the reversible jacket here, courtesy of Jack Knife and Evan Kinori:
Evan Kinori • “The Reversible Jacket” from Jarod Taber on Vimeo.
Currently, Evan Kinori is stocked at the following retailers:
– Reliquary / 544 Hayes St, San Francisco, CA 94102
– RTH / 529 & 537 N La Cienega Blvd West Hollywood, Los Angeles, CA 90048
– County Ltd. / 1837 Hyperion Ave Los Angeles, CA 90027
– Loftman / Loftman B.D. (Kyoto) & Loftman COOP UMEDA (Osaka)
– Lantiki / Kobe & Tokyo Locations
– CPCM / Tokyo