It’s About Damn Time…

giphyIt’s about damn time…YEP, I feel the same way. It’s been awhile, a long while, to be exact, a two year while. I can’t say I have the best reasons but, life happens and that’s where I’ll keep it. Life is and has been full of twists, turns, ups and downs but that’s what makes it great, right? So, a little of what’s been happening with life, first, I re-entered the field of public health research in mid July 2016. Taking on this position was exciting because of the research I thought I would be getting into, but of course that meant less time for creating. Second, in late 2016 I started as a consultant with a creative consulting company. This too was an exciting venture because I would be working alongside some pretty dope creative entrepreneurs/artists and this opportunity would really allow me to use my experience in design while exposing me to new projects that could further expand my creative capacity. Thirdly, in January 2017 I started as a developmental partner and cofounder of a digital health startup. Again, exciting because I would be using my experience and expertise in research in a sector of the business world that I’m passionate about and truly lacks equity for certain populations, and has for quite some time or forever. I mean, what kind of entrepreneur would I be to not take this opportunity to do something I believe can make our communities and our world a better place. Lastly, not thinking I was doing too much, I thought I’d co-found local running group. As an avid runner, that again saw a lack of inclusiveness and diversity in the sport, I thought what better time to start a running group than now. All these ventures are amazing and collectively are personal passions of mine but these ventures combined with the new job took me completely away from Natty Neckware and all the complexities that come with operating a small apparel accessories brand. It’s now September 2018, I’m no longer working as a full-time public health researcher (this could change again very soon) and I have stepped down as a consultant with the creative consulting firm. My responsibilities as cofounder of the digital health startup (Digital LinCS), however, have increased immensely, which is very exciting and the running group (Rebull Running) is literally off and running [pun intended], but my focus is also back on Natty Neckware. I’m more inspired to build, learn, create and move this brand in a direction that I have only dreamed about. I want to grow Natty Neckware into a brand that will be known for years to come. A brand that will support workers and build other entrepreneurs. A brand that will help create more equity and sustainability within the fashion industry. I’m back and bringing Natty Neckware back like I never have before because…it’s about damn time!!!

Until we meet again…stay Natty!

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The Fit: The Lapel Pin

The Fit: A Blog Series

Get in where you “fit” in!

The lapel pin has become a trend, maybe even more so a phenomenon in men’s fashion. And it’s only been in existence (in this form at least) over the last few years. Lapel pins started out as just that, a pin worn in the lapel notch on sports coats/blazers/suit jackets. Now, they’re ever evolving. You will see them worn on sweaters, cardigans (don’t know what it is, we’ll discuss them later in the series), outerwear jackets etc.

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The lapel pin is an item of clothing in menswear that I thought wasn’t going to last long. Of course, it took me a while to jump on the lapel pin bandwagon, mostly out of fear that I didn’t know what I’d look like with one and I didn’t want to feel like a “trendy” person. But, when I finally did wear one, it hit me exactly why they are so popular and maybe even less trendy than I thought. Lapel pins have truly become a staple in menswear and I think it’s safe to say they’re here to stay. They are a subtle accessory that men can wear without feeling like their doing “too much” but can still incorporate a bit of their own personal style. And, most of all, lapel pins are small enough that they don’t overshadow an outfit and provide just enough of an edge to make an outfit that much more interesting. Now keep in mind that this was written before the Met Gala where some of entertainment’s best dressed donned them accompanied by sharp and well tailored tuxes (slideshow above). But is that celebrity endorsement validation or what? I thought it to be validation enough to make a Facebook post about it. Anyway, here are a few ways to wear your lapel pin:

Don’t be afraid to create you own unique way of wearing them and as you discover what works for you let us know how it goes. We’d love to see how y’all are rocking them!

Check out some lapel pins by Natty Neckware

Until next time…stay Natty! 

 

Collaborations are Sprouting…literally

It’s been a couple of weeks since I posted on the blog…did you notice? Okay, don’t answer that but either way, I’m sorry but not so sorry! It has been quite a busy and productive few weeks for me and my brand, Natty Neckware. There were A LOT of meetings and deadlines that I had to meet. Quite a few people that I needed to speak with and I’m glad to say that all went rather well. However there will be more updates about those things to come later. What I do want to detail is one of the collaborations we that were about to sprout (pun intended). I am pleased to announce that Natty Neckware is now a collective member of Sprout Patterns!

Sprout Patterns is a new service that combines curated patterns from independent patternmakers with Spoonflower designs to create custom cut and sew projects. What makes Sprout unique is not only the vast availability of designs and customizable patterns, but also the ease at which you get the fabric, print and pattern in one project. No more tracing and cutting multiple times. This is more environmentally friendly and it makes the process of sewing garments easier and more efficient. Sprout looks to combine the designer and maker worlds combating the ever so popular trends of fast fashion. I would say they’re on to something and I’m proud that myself and Natty Neckware can be apart of it.

We officially launched with Sprout at the end of April and it has been a breath of fresh air because the initial phase is complete which has simultaneously brought a boost of energy. This collaboration with Sprout was a perfect fit! One of my goals for 2016, was to move Natty Neckware in a direction more focused on design. How I was going to do this I didn’t fully know but I was open to any viable opportunities that presented themselves. So, not only does this give us more exposure in the design world, internationally might I add (check the site), but it will also give us (read: me) forward progression toward accomplishing one of my brands goals in 2016.

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Until next time…stay Natty!

P.S.A: H&M Recycles

So, this week I’m taking a step back from my regular posts and sending some love toward something I care about pretty deeply, the environment. If you didn’t know Earth Day is on April 22nd and it’s important because well, this is our home until we pass on. Then it’s our kids and then their kids home, so we should want to leave it in good shape for them. Scrolling through Twitter yesterday I came across an initiative that H&M (yes the huge fashion retailer) is implementing. Basically, it’s recycling or reusing old, unused clothes for better purposes and in return it helps take better care of the world. If you don’t know, the fashion industry has a major impact on the environment from: water use, wasteful products and more but I’ll talk more about that in another post. What I really wanted to do was call your attention to this H&M initiative because I think it’s pretty awesome and you (read: we) don’t have to do much to participate. Simply, comb through your closets and create a donation pile. Put those clothes in a bag (or you can carry them in your arms whatever you please), take them to your nearest H&M store and give them a second life. There’s 3600 stores worldwide so this shouldn’t be too hard! So that’s it, you’ve done a good deed, decluttered your closet and helped the environment in more ways than you can probably imagine. For more info on H&M’s garment collecting initiative visit:  hm.com/garmentcollecting

Below is the press release from the retailer about collecting 1000 tons of unwanted garments during World Recycle Week and Earth Day

Since H&M launched its Garment Collecting initative in 2013, customers from every corner of the world have helped recycle 25,000 tons of their unwanted clothes. To make that gigantic volume more comprehendible, H&M’s head of sustainability Anna Gedda compares it to collecting 125 million T-shirts in three years. On April 18, one week dedicated to collecting at least 1,000 tons of unwanted garments starts.

“Seeing how much unwanted clothes we’ve collected since launching the garment collecting initiative, we know that there’s a huge interest from our customers to be more conscious in how they enjoy fashion  – and we want them to be a part of the solution,” she says and continues:

“I’m positive we’ll be able to collect 1,000 tons during World Recycle Week.”

H&M has been on the sustainability forefront for years. After items are collected in any of the more than 3,600 H&M stores worldwide, they are shipped to one of seven sorting plants where they are sorted to become either re-worn and sold in second-hand stores, re-used as cloths or upholstery, or recycled to become new fabric and essentially new items.

“The planet’s resources are limited. If we want to continue enjoying fashion, we have to find a way to make better use of the resources. H&M works for a sustainable fashion future which, among many things, means that we want to create a closed loop for fashion where old clothes can be turned into new ones without using additional materials. We still have more to do, but already today we make so-called closed-loop products from recycled denim fabric from the garments you hand in,” says Anna Gedda.

To make as many people as possible aware of World Recycle Week, and to collect as many unwanted garments as possible (regardless of condition or brand, of course), H&M has teamed up with M.I.A. and several other influencers working in fashion and music while being devoted to reducing waste of the planet’s resources.

“M.I.A. is fantastic. She’s not just a great artist with great style, she’s also deeply engaged in sustainability and in environmental issues,” says Anna Gedda.

WHAT IS THE LONG-TERM GOAL WITH THIS WEEK?
“World Recycle Week is about changing people’s behavior when it comes to caring for their clothes, to make sure that no fashion goes to waste.”

BEFORE THE WEEK STARTS, WHAT DO YOU URGE EVERYONE TO DO?
“To see this as a great oppurtunity to clean out your wardrobe. Then make sure all the things you can’t wear anymore or that are ripped or that you’re tired of get new life.”

HOW MANY ITEMS WILL YOU RECYCLE DURING THE WEEK?
“At least two full bags. I’ve collected most of the things that I’m going to recycle.”

The music video with M.I.A. – watch the teaser above – highlights the environmental impact letting fashion go to waste has on the planet. So instead of throwing your clothes in the garbage and allowing them to end up in landfills, you should collect all the things you don’t want and bring them to your nearest H&M.

“World Recycle Week is a movement for change,” says Anna Gedda.

Until next time…stay Natty! 

 

The Fit

The Fit: A Blog Series

Get in, where you “fit” in!

The Fit, intended to help provide you with all the tools and information necessary to make the right decision when selecting that next piece of clothing to expand your wardrobe.
Consisting mainly of all things menswear: the “fit” of denim, suits, sports coats/blazers, etc. I’ll dive into how garments are supposed to fit and how those same garments can be tailored/altered to give you that “made to measure” look with “off the rack” prices. Stay tuned for future developments with this series, it may get even more interesting.

We’ll start off with some accessories that I’m pretty familiar with for more reasons than one. Mainly because I work with them every day!

I hope you can follow along. Ain’t nothing to it but to do it!

Until next time…stay Natty!

This something new…

There’s something new on the horizon at Natty Neckware.

 

So, this post isn’t exactly about a specific topic, like my previous posts. This one is more of an introduction into something new that I’ll be adding to Natty Neckware which in my opinion, will make the brand even more invaluable. This something new has been suggested by several of my fashion forward friends as well as some of my not so fashion forward friends (I love them all the same either way). This something new would be an addition to my products but not really new to me because I’ve done it in the past. This something new did not come to mind naturally, even with past experience. This something new, was not an easy decision to make. I can say that with honesty because the first time it was suggested was a few of years ago, how ironic (if you’ve read my previous posts you’ll understand) and I’ve been getting that same feedback ever since. This something new is a service. This something new will bring a new perspective to men and menswear. Okay, I may be taking it a little far but let me live a little. This something new is…Style Architecture, commonly known as personal styling. Let’s build a “blueprint” for your personal style.  

With some brief thoughts and conversations, I saw style architecture as something that comes relatively natural to me. If asked, I immediately jump into “stylist” mode and start with my suggestions or ways to improve an outfit or lack thereof. So, here we are! The initial services I will be offering are below.

Services can be used in accordance with the purchase of our products or as a standalone service. If you have any additional questions please feel free to contact me via email: nattyneckware@gmail.com, on our Facebook page or through the contact page on the Natty Neckware website. Service will officially debut in April. 

STYLE ARCHITECTURE SERVICES

“Building a blueprint for your personal style”

Service

Price

Description

Shop Your Closet

$50 – 1 hour

$25 for each additional hour

Closet full of clothes and still “nothing to wear”. Get the most out of your closet. It’s more in there than you think.

Special Event Styling

$28 – $50/hour Interviews, Weddings, Dates, Proposals, Engagements

Style Architecture Consultation

$25/hour Building a blueprint you want for your image and personal style


Until next time, stay Natty….

Strength. Courage. Wisdom.

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Strength. Courage. Wisdom. All terms for inspiration, encouragement, motivation and more. They’re even in a song by the artist, India Arie. Side note, If you haven’t heard it, check it out  the audio video below and let me know what you think. So, what inspired me to talk about these words? Well, because I was listening to Pandora and this song ( “Strength, Courage and Wisdom”) came on while I was at work. At that moment listening to it wasn’t initially special, I’ve heard the song many times. But oh, was I wrong. I kept listening and there was something different about it this time. I actually heard the lyrics and for the first time let them resonate. So much so, I stopped working for a few seconds and intently sat with the words that she was singing. Some of the lyrics read like this:

[Chorus]

“Strength, Courage and Wisdom

It’s been inside of me all along

Strength, Courage and Wisdom

Inside of me”

Pretty simple huh? The rest of the song supports the lyrics wholeheartedly. She talks about stepping out on faith and showing her face (paraphrasing) but the lyrics are just dope and hold so much truth. A truth that I have been told for many years, many times by many different people. But there is something about music and in that very moment those words caught me and even held onto me. As the lyrics lingered in my mind I really heard what she was singing and what so many others had told me prior to this moment. YOU (I Marcus) have everything inside you to do what you need, want, and have to do. Strength, courage and wisdom are some of the things that I have needed and continue to need on my entrepreneurial journey. I’m a runner and these words also explain much of what’s needed for long distance running. Entrepreneurship requires endurance and is no cake walk, which I didn’t expect. There’s been many times when I’ve wanted to give up, not work so hard and not “be on” so much. But honestly, it comes with the territory. Being an entrepreneur is not meant to be easy. It takes embodying all of these words everyday, several times a day. One needs the STRENGTH to say, okay, I’m going to try this and change the way in which I do this and see what the outcome will be. I need the COURAGE  to, step out of my comfort zone, talk with people I normally wouldn’t engage with and do the things I usually wouldn’t or maybe even shouldn’t (still legal, though, come on y’all). Lastly, using WISDOM to learn from my mistakes and failures while finding the positivity within them and using that for my favor in the future. These words have been a boon in continuing to build my personal brand and my business, Natty Neckware.

Strength. Courage. Wisdom. All things we already possess within…we just have to dream, go, believe and DO.

Thanks for reading!

Until next time, stay Natty…

 

The men’s white button up…really necessary?

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It’s considered boring, basic, plain even yet it’s crisp, classic and definitely a must have in every man’s wardrobe. What am I referring to you ask? The the incomparable white button up shirt. Many don’t recognize the significance of the white button up because it’s become so deeply integrated into our fashion culture. It’s been around for years, decades, generations…dating back to the early 19thcentury to be exact. However today we won’t delve into a textiles history lesson but instead converse about how important this item of clothing has been and I’m assuming will continue to be in the realm of men’s fashion. It has “rich” and elitist beginnings but is currently very much the norm worn by the everyday man or is it? If it’s not in your wardrobe or your man’s wardrobe (for my women readers) it most definitely should be. The versatility of the white button up does something for ensemble that most other colored shirts cannot do which is remain both timeless and always on trend.

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How can it be used with your personal style choices? It can be worn as a stark contrast with a jet black tuxedo for “black-tie” events, formals and anything needing a “traditional” look for that matter. Additionally, it can also be simple and casual under a sweater accompanied with some dark denim jeans and a sports coat. There is magic to how this one item of clothing can be so versatile. Well, in my opinion, it’s because the white button up is, for a lack of better terms, a blank canvas. And we all know what can happen when we have white space in which to create…if not check out some of my artist friends and get ready to be amazed. (Gemynii, Candy Carver). In other words, there are no limits and you can construct your style however you desire. You could leave it basic or you can douse it with plenty of color accents or anything in between and still look great (remember beauty and art is in the eye of the beholder). The white button up shirt is a foundational piece of clothing which every man needs in his closet. Purely because it’s fresh, clean and can be made to illustrate your mood and energy feel for that day or other moments in time.

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Notable recommendations:

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Until next time…stay Natty!

What’s in a Name…Natty Neckware

IMG_1168A name…it can explain who you are, who you want to be, where you want to go and beyond. Quite often, I’m asked about the origin of my business’s name, Natty Neckware. Let me keep it real, most people have assumed my name came about because of my personality or things I like. I have gotten questions like: Are you from Cincinnati? Did you name it after you locs (dreadlocks)? To both questions it’s an overwhelming, NO! Honestly the task of naming my business wasn’t nearly that complicated or intriguing. In fact, it was pretty simple. The formula went a little something like this:

Synonyms + Alliteration + Out the box thinking = Natty Neckware

Natty Neckware has a little bit of all these…so let me give you the answers those assumptions/questions above.

How did you come up with your business name?

Natty Neckware was conceived from the notion that I wanted a dapper look but I didn’t want to use the word “dapper” to describe it. So in came the thesaurus to reveal synonyms for this often overused popular term. Lo and behold, the word “natty” was there waiting for me to give an identity to my brand. So in the end, no long drawn out story, just a love for synonyms, alliteration and being out of the box.

What does natty mean?

Natty = fit, smart and fashionable.

Why spell neckwear like neckware?

I see accessories as statement pieces and furthermore the equivalent of wearing art around your neck. Since I’m making unique neckwear I thought it befitting that my company be called Natty Neckware.

And that was the birth of my brand…

Up next on the blog: The white button up shirt

Until next time, stay Natty…

 

Notably Natty but why…

cropped-img_0901.jpgWhat’s up folks! I’m Marcus, Owner and Principal Designer of Natty Neckware, a menswear apparel accessories brand, based in Durham, NC. I’ve contemplated writing a blog for years. Yeah, you read that right, for YEARS. Why am I just now getting to it? Well, that will take longer to answer than I’m willing to write about but what I will say is, fear, self-doubt and life, in general, can take you places you never thought or even wanted to go. It’s been a long road arriving at this point, believe me I’ve been living it, but it’s been worth it. I’ve lived, learned, researched and dissected menswear and design principles. Now, I’m ready more than ever before. But it’s all part of the journey, right?!?!

 Why I’m here…to fulfill a desire, a want and a need in the menswear industry. With a specific focus on great innovative design, craftsmanship and products “Made in the U.S.A”. 

 What I offer…myself, with authenticity, honesty and a keen sense of personal style or what I like to call “nattiness”.

 The menswear apparel industry is going through a metamorphosis of sorts. It’s becoming an ever evolving industry that is competing with the womenswear market. So much so, that this past summer (Summer 2015) New York City held it’s first ever ‘New York Fashion Week – Men’s’ (NYFW-Men’s). This is a fashion event, much like the renowned New York Fashion Week, except this one was exclusively dedicated to menswear designers. The most recent NYFW-Men’s was just this past week. Menswear is on the come up and you should be here for it. 

 So, if you haven’t already guessed, I’m here for menswear. At my brand, Natty Neckware, we are in the midst of a transformation where we intend to breathe new life into design philosophies with our own twist on men’s apparel. We are getting back to our core principles: creativity, great design, style, innovation and community. We are evolving and building a brand that is something everyone can be proud of. 

 This blog will contain more than just things about my brand. Future content will be a mix of all things stylish, cool, eccentric, eclectic and more!  I hope you can come along for the ride or watch from a distance but in all that you do…keep it Natty!

 Until next time, stay Natty…