After graduating college, Read Wall encountered the same problem a lot of guys do: figuring out what the hell to do with his life. With a passion for working with non-governmental organizations on African education initiatives and a longstanding love of classic American clothing under his belt, he decided to combine the two. The result? Read’s Clothing Project, which produces a full line of US-made shirting and neckwear and donates a book to an African child in need for every piece sold. To mark the brand’s debut on Gilt MAN, we sat down for a chat with the man himself.
You were just barely 24 when you launched Read’s Clothing Project. What made you feel like, at such a young age, you could start a clothing company?
You can call it stupidity or arrogance [laughs], but I had a really strong belief in my vision for what I wanted to do. And I’ve always been pretty independent, pretty headstrong, and I didn’t want to wait to do this thing. So I basically just said, “F**k it,” and did it.
How exactly did you choose the charity for RCP? Why books instead of water, or shoes, or what have you?
I’ve taught classes, given talks, and helped out in classrooms in Africa, and doing that you realize that education is the way that people have upward mobility and societies become stronger—and books are such a great way to learn. Everybody’s got a book that’s really affected their life, and the ability to share that with someone who might not otherwise have the opportunity to have that experience through reading was pretty special. It’s a personal connection to that cause.
Do you have any formal design experience?
No formal design training—I guess I’m self-taught—but I have an idea of how things should fit, and how they should be made, so I just put that all together. And I’ve relied on the expertise of a lot of more experienced people in terms of actual construction, and that’s been great, too.
What informs the clothing you make for Read’s Clothing Project?
It’s basically the clothing that I grew up on: classic, American, kind of preppy clothing. It’s the aesthetic that I understand, and the one that I still want to wear. But I wanted to focus on fit, so we slimmed down the body on our shirts and gave them higher armholes for a classic look with a more modern silhouette.
Anything you’re really excited about in the sale?
Well we’ve got some really great stuff. There are a couple of oxford cloth shirts that are totally classic. We also have a grey, lightweight chambray we’re doing—it’s a summer-weight shirt, great for when it gets hotter.
And then there’s my favorite two from the collection. One is a blue seersucker gingham that just looks like a great gingham shirt from far out, but when you get in closer it’s got that puckered seersucker texture that’s great for summer. The other is a pinpoint, multi-stripe oxford that’s an awesome throwback to the early ‘90s, late ‘80s Danny Tanner look.