INTERVIEW: RAFAL SWIADER

Meeting designers in person remains one of my favorite experience. You have for an hour or so a very unique opportunity to understand their story, design process and who their are. Rafal and I never really met before so it was time to catch up and discuss his SS17 collection, current inspirations and his new venture MOTT NYC in Chinatown.

My background
My background is actually womenswear. I lived in NYC for 10 years before moving to the west coast. I came from Poland to study at the Fashion Institute of Technology where i graduated in womenswear specializing in evening wear. I then got a position designing for a contemporary brand where i worked for 6 years. I felt that I needed a change and met people at John Varvatos here in New York. I helped them to open their new store before taking care of their new location in West Hollywood, Los Angeles. I ended up working there much longer than I anticipated, putting my designs and creative projects on hold.

The beginning
Finally, two and half years ago, I went back to designing a womenswear collection. Things took an unexpected turn after my partner and I got married and spent our honeymoon in France. After three weeks in Paris, shopping vintage pieces and people watching, I had an epiphany and decided to create my menswear brand R.Swiader. We launched in january 2015. This new spring summer 2017 is my fifth collection.

His vision
I tend to be very consistent with my designs and the way that I work. Some images, for example, will carry over on my mood-board for the next collection. Same goes for my design process, all very organic and more like an ongoing story with elements coming back or evolving.
I like the idea that my pieces are meant to be kept for a long time, mixing them with different seasons.
A lot of our fabrics are sourced from Japan. I love Japanese fibers especially cottons and linen blends. SS17 is mostly made using them. For winter, I usually go for Italian wools and yarns.
I’ve kept elements of womenswear especially in the the details, fabrication and finishings. You can see them if you look carefully but at the end of the day, it’s truly a menswear brand.

SS17 campaign
The 80s are creeping back into my designs especially with dropped shoulders, pleated and oversized pants. Nostalgia is important component of R.Swiader, giving, something very romantic and peaceful to what i do.

Patti Smith
Right after moving back to NYC last fall, I read “Just Kids”. Patti Smith, Robert Mapplethorpe and New York in the 70s, all have been haunting me ever since finishing her book. I went on revisiting their old interviews, watching videos of Patti talking about her life, and spent time at some of their favorite spots. She has that rawness and poetic side that matches the R.Swiader dna. You will definitely see more of it next season. I also like that she loves Paris too.

Mott NYC
On April 13th my husband and Ii opened our first retail store in New York called Mott NYC (167 Mott street). The idea for the space was born after we moved back after spending 8 years in Los Angeles. Our goal was both to create a space that feels like old New York that we knew in the past (we both lived here in the 90’s and early 2000s) and an extension of our home, a place were we can entertain, enjoy art and share our aesthetic with other people. Mott NYC is a space for men
and women, a place where everyone is welcome and they can pick up items that will make them feel good. It’s a collection of our favorite things for your home and closet including my collections and other brands such as Worth & Worth hats, Hiro Clark, Cinnamon Projects and Apparatus. In the back of the shop we have a small barber shop (the Cutting Nook) – best place to get you hair cut in town! We want our shop to be interactive and we think it is important to give back to our community. We are putting together live drawing workshops, meditation sessions and art
openings every 6-8 weeks.