Sustainable options for well-tailored suits and stylish menswear can be difficult to come by, but now it’s becoming a little bit easier, thanks to Joshua Katcher, who created Brave GentleMan to become “the premiere resource for Principled Attire & Smart Supplies, carefully curated to accommodate the most ethically handsome of men.” Comprised of slick, clean lines and traditional suiting, shirting and footwear, the line is also vegan, sustainable and made under fair labor conditions. THE GREEN FIND recently caught up with Katcher to ask him about his sustainable menswear line.
What is your background? Did you study fashion?
I did not study fashion per se. I have a BFA from Syracuse University in Art Video and a minor in Environmental Studies. I became fascinated with fashion as a cultural barometer, a means of communication, and also a tool for change. The potential to leverage the power of fashion to change society is real, and has happened again and again throughout history, especially through the use of uniforms and the spectacle of luxury. I love analyzing the psychology, history and sociology of fashion and its relationship to power, sex, and identity. And a parallel to that fascination is my interest in the impacts of garment production on people, animals and ecosystems. In our global culture, fashion is one of the most prevalent ways we express our identities, yet what I see happening is a vast incongruity between the identities many hope to express in comparison to the reality of production.
Why did you start Brave GentleMan?
I started Brave GentleMan in 2010, about 2 years after I started writing The DiscerningBrute.com and seeing a big gap in the market. Most of the sustainable and ethical lifestyle content to products was being geared toward women – and not surprisingly. Our culture relegates compassion to the realm of the feminine, the irrational, the weak. The mainstream definition of masculinity is so limiting and dangerous in that it structurally rewards those who destroy, control, and dominate under the guise of strength. It’s only a performance of power against the already powerless (the poor, women, children, animals, ecosystems, etc). It’s far easier to do great harm than it is to provide a comparable amount of help – so perhaps people who reap those rewards of mainstream masculinity are actually lazy and crave easy access to power. The truth is that fulfillment of being a hero, a protector, or a defender of others requires much more ferocious work than the thrill of destroying them. My initial goal was to make a totally sustainable men’s suit and durable shoes using only future textiles, and to showcase a more authentic male aspiration that both addresses contemporary social, ethical and environmental issues, and also showcases new, innovative and superior materials and textiles that are free of problematic animal-derived fibers.
How would you describe your vision for the brand?
Conceptually, Brave GentleMan represents masculinity that is daring, heroic and honest in the most important ways. BGM is part of a burgeoning community of sustainable and ethical fashion designers who are resisting the mainstream, linear fashion production models and distancing themselves from the mainstream fashion industrial complex that is in perpetual acceleration and upheaval.
In a more practical sense, my vision for the brand is to make superior products, have a flagship store in NYC with location internationally and help change the world.
Who is your target customer?
Smart men with good taste.
What are you working on at the moment?
I am preparing for Spring, and beginning designs for Autumn-Winter 15/16, which will have a confident, strong and minimal aesthetic that showcases the latest future textiles.
Could you name the key pieces of your AW14 collection?
I think the tweed moto jacket is a really nice balance between the classic look of heritage menswear with the edginess of a motorcycle cut. All the materials for fall are made in a fair-labor mill in Brazil from recycled cotton garments and recycled poly garments that are color separated before recycling and therefore, dye-free.
Images by Lauren Perlstein for Brave GentleMan