Modern American Fashion, Redefined.
A letter from our president
It’s hard to believe it’s been ten years since Matt and Emily Baldwin founded BALDWIN. During that time, there have been some remarkable achievements for the brand. From being nominated ‘Best New Menswear Designers in America’ by GQ and a finalist for the Vogue/CFDA Fashion Fund, to opening seven BALDWIN retail stores across the country, the brand has continued to build upon its strong foundation.
When I joined the brand in 2018, I was well aware of BALDWIN’s heritage and story. It was in large part what drew me to the brand and opportunity. There was no doubt, the important role that Kansas City played in telling the story of BALDWIN. Kansas City is the birthplace of the brand and unquestionably where its roots are firmly established. However, in being tasked with growing the brand well beyond Kansas City, I believed the brand needed to evolve. How could we translate Kansas City on a national and global level? What would that look like? What would that mean? This eventually led to a series of questions, which would begin to define the next chapter of the brand.
What does Kansas City ultimately represent for the brand? The immediate thought that came to mind was, AMERICAN. And as it related to BALDWIN, it represented American design, American fashion. If this was true, which I believed it was, it led to another question:
What did I believe were people’s perceptions and associations of what “American” represents today? There were the expected and immediate associations that came to mind: American is baseball, apple pie, John Wayne, Ford, Coca Cola, Levi’s, etc. All things which are inherently American, but felt too expected and limiting for as rich of a story that I believed American truly represents. This ultimately led me to my final question:
What if we dared to challenge these sterotypes and look at American through a different lens? So, that’s what I began to do. And what started to take shape was quite beautiful.
Wright, Gehry, Lautner, Warhol, Basquiat, Pollock, O’Keeffe, Judd, Koons, Eames, Knoll, Baughman, Nelson, McCobb, Dylan, Coltrane, Davis, Fitzgerald, Holiday…
From architects and artists, to designers and musicians––the list continued. While I had known each of those icons and legends to individually be American, I had never thought about them collectively, representing A.M.E.R.I.C.A.N. What if we said “American” and instead of the expected associations, these names and brands came to mind? That’s an identity I would want to build a brand around. It was at this point that I immediately knew the next chapter of the brand: Building a modern American fashion brand.
By looking at America through this lens, we wanted to create a modern approach to American fashion. A style rooted in the timeless qualities of the past, yet innovative enough to push things forward. We would distill each season’s influences into an essential wardrobe. A collection of men’s and women’s clothing inspired by the creative minds and times that shaped and continue to define America’s legacy.
Keeping with the refined spirit of the clothes, we’ve introduced a streamlined brand mark for Spring 2019 in legendary American designer, Frederic Goudy’s iconic, Copperplate typeface. The removal of the vowels cements our commitment to expressing a new American modernism and beginning –– BLDWN.
Great design should inspire conversation. What makes modern American design distinct is a particular blend of confidence and deviation, coupled with a strong sense of storytelling. Everything we create at BLDWN, from collections to experiences, is intended to spark dialogue and redefine what it means to be an American fashion brand. In that spirit, I’m excited to introduce our brand’s next chapter.
-Johnathan Crocker, President