Pyer Moss designer, Kerby Jean-Raymond at his showroom and studio in New York City. Photography: Lorenzo Holder

Two cherubs on either end of a frieze pull back stone curtains. They’re posed as if to reveal something even more illustrious than the Garment District’s “Fashion Tower”, where if you’re lucky, you may run into Kerby Jean-Raymond, (Instagram handle @kerbito), in the elevator standing next to you.  A man of average build, casually nondescript in a black T, jogging pants and sneakers. If he recognizes you, he may take out an earbud, scan you for signs of recognition and then start up a conversation. Then what once seemed like a mild mannered civilian, suddenly becomes an MTA (Metropolitan Transportation Authority) subway train thundering into 42nd Street Station. In short, he has a lot to say.

After the initial awkward glances subside and the confirmation that the petite, scruffy little man in black, (me), is his eleven o’clock, the elevator doors to the Pyer Moss showroom open up just as our dialogue begins to. Mr. Jean-Raymond or Kerby as he prefers to be called, offers me a water or coffee. I politely decline and Kerby shows the photographer and I around the space; a clutter of garments and artwork, “This painting was a gift from one of A$AP’s crew. He’s a good friend of mine,” he says, holding up a painting of Pokémon’s Kirby standing atop two towers. He directs us to his backroom; a self-contained factory, (he also has a dye room), which employs a handful of workers. I ask him, “How many times do you make changes?” “About every five minutes,” he laughs as he inspects a sample, “When I take out my scissors they know it’s bad,” he adds. We retrace our steps to his office. I turn on my recorder.


A Pyer Moss leather jacket. Photography: Lorenzo Holder

Fucking Young! After all the years of training in womenswear why did you decide to make the move to men’s?

Kerby Jean- Raymond– I started in womenswear at 14 years old. I fell into it by chance because of my homeroom teacher in high school [The High School of Fashion Industries]. She made the intros that ultimately led to me becoming Kay Unger’s intern, apprentice and designer a day after I almost got suspended from school. I had always wanted to be a sneaker designer prior to that. I can’t say that I truly loved creating womenswear then, it was just an extension of my education to me, one that I’m grateful to have received. Menswear is something I’m passionate about creating and helping it evolve, and to be blunt, I love that I can wear my own shit.


FY!Any plans for New York Fashion Week: Men’s?

KJR-We decided not to show a physical presentation this July. We may do something though to show support but our physical show is in September. We are planning something really cool and meaningful and if we can really pull it off, I will be shocked. Seriously shocked!


FY! The line is designed and produced here in New York. Has that been a struggle having everything produced domestically as opposed to overseas?

KJR– Around early 2013, when I was thinking of starting Pyer Moss, I was still living in Istanbul. I thought I’d end up manufacturing everything there but when I got back to NYC, the communication with the factories over there became difficult. They imposed high minimums that we couldn’t meet and the samples were coming back funky. I tried to work with several local factories but they also had high minimums or couldn’t meet the quality standards. One of the things that bothered me the most about the workmanship with the local factories was that they refused to bind collars, do French seams on woven fabrics and place closures correctly. In response to that, my partner and I formed our dedicated factories here in NYC. It has its challenges, cost-wise, but we refuse to sacrifice quality. We want made in NYC to mean as much as “Made in Japan” or “Made in Italy.”


Samples from the Pyer Moss showroom. Photography: Lorenzo Holder

FY! Riding the wave of tech and fashion, are there any collaborations you have planned that you can speak about?

KJR– In the past 75 years, luxury fashion has taken one route to promote brands. It’s a seasonal cycle that includes having a physical show, inviting press and buyers from stores, having a press day, etc. This was in the hopes that a magazine would shoot your pieces and feature you in an issue in six months. Then the customer would see it and hopefully go buy your stuff. A few years ago, the world got shaken up. Instagram came out and created a new normal. Now customers see the collections immediately and six months later when most brands ship to stores and the magazines come out, they are a little tired of seeing it. There’s no coincidence that since the advent of Instagram and live streaming, fashion hasn’t seen a new retail superstar. The last of the bunch to break through were brands like Phillip Lim, Proenza Schouler or Alexander Wang.
Many brands have been slow to adapt. Some are great at it, like: Moschino, Hood By Air and Fear of God. They understand that we have to cater to a different audience that has a shorter attention span and consumes information much differently than it used to. We have several ideas we are working on. We aren’t going to follow industry rules. We are just going to follow our clients’ needs and what we’re passionate about. If it works, Amen. I just became the Fashion Director at Fyuse. We’ll be incorporating a lot of that 3D photography and experience in our marketing materials and website in the next 12 months.


FY!The music and entertainment industry is such a big part of your brand. How do you decide what songs to include on your runway playlist each season?

KJR– I’m just as particular with the music we play as the clothes that go out there. I’m fortunate enough to be friends with some incredible musicians who let me use their resources and studios for making the music for my shows and other marketing materials. The first two seasons we had Dukus and Versa Beatz from London produce custom beats that I later mixed and arranged. The third season, I worked with Brenmar to create a futuristic sound that blended trap music with harsh baselines. This past season, I worked with Jaziah and Nianga of illuminati AMS. I told them I wanted the room to feel like a 90’s house party in Brooklyn, so we played dancehall reggae, mixed with Black Star, and new stuff from MS MR, [A$AP]Rocky and [A$AP]Ferg.


FY! From inception to now, would say your customer has evolved? How?

KJR– When we launched the brand for SS14 [Spring/Summer 2014], the trends for men were lots of leather and lots of graphics. We did a lot of both and became known for it but those trends started to fade. The customer remained true to luxury sportswear but wanted less frills. That made it possible to start focusing more on what I love, which is tailoring and draping to achieve more classic athletic-inspired pieces.


FY!As a designer, how have you evolved under the helm of Pyer Moss?

KJR- Editing. I learned to edit my collection down. I used to have five page line sheets, ask the buyers at SSENSE or Brown’s. I learned to keep the ideas to a minimum and maximize on one idea. I learned to also not be so heavy handed when drawing. Like does it really need this additional seam?


Samples from the Pyer Moss showroom. Photography: Lorenzo Holder