(Auston is wearing SIR New York jacket and Grey Ant sunglasses; Photo: Amos Mac)
Several weeks before the rush of New York Fashion Week I had the opportunity to attend Project NY, a three-day, trade-only event showcasing the Fall 2013 lines of high-end contemporary menswear designers. While there, I sat down with designer Auston Björkman and chatted with him about his label, SIR New York.
Currently in its fourth season, Auston started his own line after cutting his teeth with the likes of Thom Browne and Loden Dagger. A graduate of the menswear program at the Fashion Institute of Technology, Auston's concept behind the brand is athleticism with a hint of provocation. "It's kind of like sexy athletic wear combined with high-end design and street wear,” he says. “It's also about texture: layering and pairing unexpected technical fibers with natural fibers to create a new texture and a new print."
Here's what else Auston had to say about SIR NY:
Who is the SIR Man?
It seems to be evolving quite a bit. I thought of it more as the high-end creative, sort of gay-ish city dweller that's really into fashion, but it's morphing more into street wear; hip-hop, rappers…the people that are really following it are the kids who are really into fashion and music.
What is your favorite piece from the Fall 2013 collection?
The neoprene, for sure. I'm in love with sublimation prints on neoprene. Honestly, after I've done this [collection] I want to touch nothing else ever again.
What's been your greatest source of inspiration?
Duality. I try to combine two different athletic endeavors or something that is seen as macho—like a macho sport—with something that is more refined. For example, one season it was archery and racecar driving. I take the racing stripe but then maybe a dolman sleeve that you would see in womenswear, but don't see that much in menswear, and pair it. Or feature a shoulder guard that an archer would wear. I try to balance that masculinity and femininity in the clothes a lot.
Where is the least likely place you've found inspiration?
This season I was inspired by dying glaciers. I had been watching a documentary and it was so beautiful and yet so sad at the same time, watching these glaciers turn black and just disappear. I started thinking about what if that actually does happen, and then paired it with après ski sportswear, something you would wear to a ski lodge, and thinking what if that just disappears altogether? So it's this sort of very comforting but then unsettling thing. So that's pretty unlikely I think. But really anywhere; it could just be the way something's lining up, the way the lines are on a building…really anything.
Who are your style icons?
That also changes quite a bit. I really like what ASAP is doing right now; going into lesser-known brands that are very androgynous and street but also high-end. That's been driving my inspiration the last couple seasons. And then there are the classic Clark Gable sort of men. So it's often the juxtaposition of two opposite things that really combine for me and coexist.
What are five items that make up a stylish man?
For me it's not necessarily the items, but how you wear it. A stylish man could be wearing the ugliest thing in the world but there's something about the way he'll wear it and be so confident. Maybe just tuck it in somewhere that you wouldn't expect or leave it untucked like you wouldn't expect or button it all the way up—its something about the way you put it together and how you feel in it. For me it's not an item and it isn't a label or anything like that. It's just the confidence and the ease and how you wear it.
Have you always wanted to be a fashion designer?
No, I started out wanting to be an architect and then went into photography. I'm kind of a small guy, so I started sewing to tailor clothes to fit me and then I started working in leather and latex. From there I was like, "Well how do I do this?" I realized that I wanted to wear things that I didn't see anywhere else.
What luxury do you indulge in?
Alpaca. If you're talking about clothing, it's just the softest, most-comfortable thing you could ever have. To me, it's better than cashmere, it's so great…and leather.
What can we expect from SIR for Fall 2013?
Sublimation prints and neoprene. It's almost a paired-down collection from the last season, but it's very targeted. Black and gold are the color schemes this season.
Again, there's that ruggedness but yet the ease that I really like is there. Really, the sublimation prints are the key item. It's the most beautiful way to print fabric that I've ever played with and I'm in love with the whole process.
Where does SIR retail?
In New York, we're at Oak, Atrium, Owen, Shop Untitled and International Playground. In L.A. we're at Joyrich. Isitan in Japan. The Unconventional in the UK and Lab and ID in Toronto.
(Auston is wearing SIR New York, Grey Ant sunglasses and Dr. Martens boots; Photo: Amos Mac)
Preview the rest of Auston Björkman's Fall 2013 line at www.sirnewyork.com