Designers Paul Marlow and Oliver Helden met while holding apprenticeships at Marc Jacobs, and co-founded the N.Y.C.-based Loden Dager line in 2006. Since then the duo has turned out a steady, cult-followed stream of men’s wardrobe basics thrown slightly off-kilter by irreverent shots of bold color, garnering accolades like a 2008 Ecco Domani award and a partnership with juggernaut Japanese retailer Uniqlo along the way. With their most recent Gilt MAN sale launching today, we called Paul to get the lowdown on the pieces you’ll find inside—and his take on how guys can ease their way into getting a little color this year.
Your clothes are characterized by a bold, adventurous use of color—not something most guys tend to embrace.
Well, men tend to play it safe. We try to intervene in that a little by making well-tailored pieces that are infused with a sense of humor.
What are some easy ways guys can start injecting a little color into their wardrobes?
I would say…Start slowly. [laughs] I mean, you don’t want to be a Granimal or in Technicolor or anything.
Right. The colors we do are wearable. We try to make sure that it’s not just color for color’s sake, and we stick to the same types of tones regardless of season.
So anyway, how do we start?
Socks and ties are an easy way to add a little color to your wardrobe. And this season for you guys, the ties all coincide with the shirts…Pretty conservative, but it’s a look that stands out.
Was there a hole you were looking to fill in the men’s market when you launched Loden Dager?
We were looking to make the best cashmere sweater, the best T-shirt, the best pair of jeans…those standard pieces that guys reach for every day. We wanted to focus on fit from day one. It’s all about fit, fabric, and color for us.
Who is your customer?
A creative person… young to middle professional. Somebody with a sense of adventure. Somebody who doesn’t necessarily have to wear a three-piece suit everyday. And if they do, then this is their weekend wear.
You and Oliver met at Marc Jacobs. What’s in the water over there?
Creativity. It’s a family, and everyone’s nurtured every step of the way. They find the most interesting people, and it’s constant stimulation. It’s a breeding ground for confidence.
What are the biggest style mistakes guys make on a daily basis? Be honest.
Well, I like shirts that are tucked in.
So untucked shirts bother you.
Yeah. It’s just, unnecessarily sloppy. Falsely casual. I think you can look casual and unbuttoned without looking like a wrinkled mess.
What’s exciting you the most about menswear right now?
There’s more adventure. I’m seeing more color, more patterns. I love mashing stripes together. Pattern on pattern. Everything’s more adventurous, which means that guys are the only ones holding themselves back.
Any rules guys need to follow when mixing patterns?
Uh, start slow.
That’s a common refrain from you.
Well, everyone has his own comfort level. And you have to be comfortable in your own clothes, or else your clothes look like they’re wearing you. So if you start slow you can see what works without being embarrassed. Being embarrassed doesn’t make for a confident introduction.