Nathan Bogle leaves his days with Rag & Bone behind and dives headlong into his new menswear label Jardine
by Noah Wunsch photography Douglas Friedman
When Rag & Bone launched its menswear line for New York Fashion Week in 2004, the brand was met with instantaneous success, as were its founders, Nathan Bogle and Marcus Wainwright. The label tapped into the classic, minimalist style that was taking off for brands like Billy Reid and Rogan, and two years later Rag & Bone was selected as a finalist for the 2006 CFDA/Vogue Fashion Fund award. Not long after, Bogle left the company for reasons unknown, and today, neither the label’s Wikipedia page nor the “About” section on the brand’s website make any mention of Bogle as a founder. While unwilling to offer up an answer as to why that may be, Bogle claims to not harbor any hard feelings. Instead, he only allows for the somewhat elusive explanation that he “was kind of burned out.” It is an honesty tinged with the very slightest note of displeasure that he is clearly too polite to fully concede. “I took some time off, went home, traveled a bit, just cleared my head and figured out which way I wanted to go.”
Six years later he figured it out with his new men’s line, Jardine.
Bogle greets me in his Lower East Side apartment with ruffled hair and a half-smile. He points to bolts of fabric lying against his wall and apologizes for the clutter in his clean British accent—he’ll be taking those to a factory in Jersey later. Aside from that, the apartment is spotless. Bare brick walls are postered with the must-have Morrison Hotel rock god portraits (The Rolling Stones, etc.), furniture is a deep brown crafted wood and off the living room, I catch a glimpse inside a tidily kept, white dressed bedroom.
Bogle came to New York City from London 15 years ago to work as a fashion model by way of a discovery story slightly more exceptional than the pretty-young-face-in-a-mall scenario. He had been living in Spain studying permaculture (“It’s all about designing sustainable living systems—minimum energy in and maximum out.”) when he decided to take his agricultural studies to Malaysia and backpack his way down through Thailand. It was there, in Thailand, that he was discovered…by a French taxi driver. “She was a very cool lady. She knew people in the fashion industry and she referred me to a couple of agencies,” he recalls. “She scribbled them down and encouraged me to check them out.” He didn’t take her up on the advice right away, deciding instead to work as a chef at Britain’s famous Pinewood Studios, but soon came to realize that standing a few hours in front of a camera for a few hundred bucks a day beat the hell out of burning his hands over a boiling pot for next to nothing.
Once in New York, he promptly found work doing runway shows and campaigns for brands like Louis Vuitton, DKNY and Armani. His backstage life with stylists and fashion designers opened his eyes to the intricacies of fashion. “You know, when you’re a kid, you don’t really think about if there’s gonna be any value in working the shows,” he says, “but looking back it was actually a very informative time in my life.” The clothes he wore from his modeling gigs allured him further into the elements of design. “I was constantly making alterations to clothes to get a better fit. I told a friend about this and he said, ‘You should just make your own.’ And I thought, OK, that’s an idea.”
“I was constantly making alterations to clothes to get a better fit. I told a friend about this and he said, ‘You should just make your own.’ And I thought, OK, that’s an idea.”
The original vision for Rag & Bone, which Bogle seems happy enough to talk about in a peripheral way, first came together in 2002 as a potential footwear brand—Bogle was influenced in part by his mother, who worked for the French shoe designer Charles Jourdan while he was growing up—but evolved instead into a denim brand, and after that, a full fashion line. Inspired by Rogan, then the benchmark in denim washings and edgy aesthetic, Bogle and Wainwright decided that although a great brand, the problem with Rogan’s process is that there was simply too much of a process. “There was a lot of distressing and washing, so we were thinking OK, well let’s go on the other side and do no washing,” explains Bogle. “Let’s make the brand about being made in America.” The concept, from two Brits, proved to be brilliant.
During the six years between his departure from Rag & Bone and the launch of Jardine, Bogle focused his creative energy in every which way but fashion—he worked in advertising, went to culinary school and even studied screenwriting. Then in December of 2011, Bogle bought an iPhone that unexpectedly changed the course of his life. “I downloaded so much shit that I wasn’t using, and I went to bed and my head was pulsing from this overload of stuff,” he says. “I took it back the next day.” He retreated to his mother’s farmhouse in Italy to get away from the digital blather he had experienced in the States, and from there something interesting happened: “I think that visit kind of spiraled into an aesthetic, an idea, a philosophy about a brand, that sort of ‘less-is-more.’” And a label was born.
Named after Bogle’s great-grandfather, Jardine feels like it could be a younger Rag & Bone, before the brand embraced prints and multicolor schemes. Jardine’s Spring/Summer line features light monochromatic colors, shirting in sky blue, pants in a gray khaki or hot pink. For Fall, the line takes a chunkier, punkier route, with thick knits and mod leather. Bogle says he’d like to expand into womenswear at some point, but first wants to make sure the menswear is where it should be. “I want everything to be as aligned as possible. It’s about building a foundation and getting the roots in firmly. Without the mechanics, nothing else happens.”