Donrad Duncan of EFM on his latest venture, athleisure, and 2016
Athleisure has long surpassed being a trend. With brands and companies like Abercrombie & Fitch, Bebe, Rebecca Minkoff, Kate Spade, Ovadia & Sons, and Kohl’s launching athleisure collections and footwear this year, the trend has officially become a movement. Customers prefer the comfort of performance fabrics that are more commonly found in active apparel, and they pair these pieces with ready-to-wear apparel.
Engineered For Motion, known simply as EFM, is a luxury menswear brand that bridges the gap between men’s ready-to-wear and tailoring and active apparel. Designer Donrad Duncan incorporates traditional performance fabrics in his collections that consist of slim trousers, blazers and outerwear that have several functions.
Duncan helped launch Victorinox Apparel in 2000 before launching men’s military inspired brand, MA.STRUM, both of which put comfort and movement at the forefront and inadvertently spurned the athleisure movement. After parting ways with MA.STRUM, Duncan founded EFM. He took the time to discuss his young brand and the athleisure movement.
Fashion Mag: So, tell us about EFM?
Donrad Duncan: EFM is clothing designed to accommodate the user who wants to easily transition between venues while wearing the same attire throughout the day. He can comfortably work all day, ride his bicycle to drinks and dinner, and attend a social event later on. This person does not want to be encumbered with having to think about what to wear. He wants the ability to be active if needed, feel comfortable at all times, while looking effortlessly elegant.
FM: Congratulations on a successful SS16 show at NYFW: Men’s. Can you tell us about the concept for the collection?
DD: The concept of Spring 2016 is based on the Art of Fencing. I have brought to life my interpretation of this elegant art form for the active user. It was a special presentation for us because we were invited to be a part of the first New York Fashion Week: Men's put on by the CFDA. It was truly an honor.
FM: EFM has its own narrative compared to Victorinox and MA.STRUM. What message do you intend to send with this line?
DD: To express that less is more in cleaner lines, lighter weight fabrics, and multi-functional garments, such as advancing the making of a garment by reducing bulky seams through sonic flattening, and the use of ultrasonic welding techniques instead of sewing. Placing the finished garment into a more ethereal art form.
FM: Each brand has elements of an active, outdoor lifestyle. How important is being active to you and in menswear?
DD: Important to me, and I am designing garments that allow it to be important to the user if he wants it to be. I am the first-line product tester for everything I design. As an active person myself, I want a pair of dress trousers that can also be comfortable when riding my bike to work at the studio. Being active and a user of my own garments has also led to added elements like that same pair of dress trousers has a reflective tape sewn in the inside of the cuff so that when it is turned up the rider has an added level of security. Also, we have added a stretch tape insert in the back seams of our jackets to add a greater range of movement. Even someone that is not active will appreciate freedom of movement when they reach for their tablet.
FM: Where do you see menswear heading in five years? Do you think it will continue on its active, athleisure trend?
DD: If only I could predict this, I'd buy a lottery ticket. I believe it will continue because people are not going to change and say "I don't want to be healthy any longer." Users will continue to be active and look for garments that aid in that lifestyle.
FM: How do you define athleisure and do you consider EFM your athleisure brand?
DD: Athleisure is comfortable and sleek with an athletic appeal. EFM has taken the aspect of comfort and clean lines a few steps further to the category of advanced luxury, where the combination of performance-oriented clothing meets elegance.
FM: Care to share plans for FW16?
DD: It will be positioned as “Urban Evolution”. It's all about evolving.
FF: What plans do you have for EFM next year and in the near future?
DD: Our aim is to provide a collection of garments that present active wearables with advance elegance. This will continue in exciting ways as we research and develop new fabrics and construction methods.
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