“I’ve always been a super—it sounds terrible, but—a super aesthetically inclined, or aesthetically driven person,” says Jeff Johnson, the creative director of the recently launched outerwear label The Arrivals, “always obsessing over either the way that things look or the way that things are put together.” And while that statement was issued in tones of regret, that’s not a bad thing for a man in his line of work; whether that was in his previous field (architecture, designing everything from “an airport or a museum to single family homes and furniture” for a Amsterdam-based firm) or his current one, creating a small clutch of innately covetable and entirely chic outerwear—think ribbed-sleeve cropped leather jackets with plush rabbit collars, oversize wool cocoon coats, durable twill parkas, and zippy, weatherproof Italian twill ponchos. As for whether Johnson truly thinks his discerning eye is doing him a disservice, consider the Vitruvius quote emblazoned across the Our Story section of The Arrivals’ website: “Nothing requires the architect’s care more than the due proportions of design.”
True to form, Johnson found the jump from creating buildings to creating sleek, androgynously minded toppers was not so much of a leap as one might think. (Though he did initially show up at a pattern-maker’s office with a series of blueprints and 3-D models for coats, rather than sketches.) “I was very lucky to find myself in an architecture practice that was so cross-disciplinary, that touched on so many different elements of design,” Johnson says, “It was such a nice place to realize the underlying principles of making good design better . . . it’s the very simple things that you’re taught: What is the starting function, what is the material that you’re going to work with, what is the silhouette, what is the construction going to take, what are the elements involved, what is the hardware like. Really, those elements transcend between any designing, it’s how we approach everything we do, whether that’s web design, the packaging, the product.”
And what of the product? The line contains both men and women’s collections mostly designed and manufactured in New York’s garment district and born of the desire for high-quality leather jackets without the $ 2,000-and-up price tag (as well as the related fiscal hangover). Johnson was approached with the idea for an e-commerce site late in 2013 by his friend and serial tech-investor Kal Vepuri, whose previous dalliances into the world of e-commerce include the riotously successful Warby Parker, Harry’s Shaving, and Reformation, among dozens of other businesses. Between Alexander Wang and Barney’s, H&M, and Zara, “where is that opportunity in the middle to buy a beautiful product with a story, made here in New York by like-minded young creatives who weren’t necessarily on paper the best people to do it, but are passionate and want to create a very impressive product?” asks Johnson. Well, they made one. Just by “focusing on what those classic items are that everyone wants in their closet, to let someone have that same feeling of putting on a leather jacket or that perfect oversize coat or parka or whatever it is and not feel terrible when you see the price tag.” And you won’t: The moto-style leather jacket rings in at $ 685, a warm wool wrapper, $ 385, with future collections held open for some currently-under-wraps ideas for expansion, both into lighter toppers for the warmer months and, possibly, accessories. The design aesthetic is very true to Johnson’s background: clean, Scandinavian-inspired lines that would look as good crossing one of Copenhagen’s canals as New York’s Canal Street—and as you might now have come to expect, you’ll want to live in them.
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