by Natasha Tauber
Socks—an "oft overlooked garment," Vivek Nagrani says—used to be a "definitive way to separate the gentleman from the man." It was with that insight that 14 years ago Nagrani founded Ovdafut; reinventing men's hosiery by cleverly articulating wearers’ wishes. The full range has found in a home on Manhattan’s Upper East Side, and more specifically, the hosiery is housed in Harvard's 1804 card catalog, thanks to a collaboration with Brooklyn-based Hecho, Inc—the notable architects of The Box, a burlesque nightclub and theater.
In conceiving the VK Nagrani experience, an architectural challenge was issued. The team would use only those elements already collected in the Hecho shop towards the realization of a private atelier, a showroom and social club for the brand’s clientele. Each element—from the confessional at the entry, to Abraham Lincoln's face suggested in mosaic—is based in the founder's ongoing fascination with what it means to be a gentleman, and his recognition that dressing the part is actually the least of it. Nagrani calls the lodge "an exercise in civilized living." The space is designed to reflect the brand's commitment to the pursuit of excellence in both craft and entertainment—as he believes true luxury "is never in the label, but the artist and the craft."
The line’s foundation, underwear, is playfully named—some examples include Wang, Woody and Shaft—and is spun from pima cotton and colored in vegetable dyes. The process is overseen by a family with whom Nagrani has long worked; Peruvian sisters, who ensure each pair flatters a different cut of men's pants. "The idea was to engineer a piece that felt as if nothing was on," the designer notes.
The inspiration for VK Nagrani's debut line of menswear was provided by the "72-hour man," a gentleman who finds himself in three different climates in just as many days—with only a carry-on to survive. It's possible because Nagrani designs for a man for whom work and leisure aren't entirely opposite—or “the gentleman who opts to wear a suit rather than the one who is required to wear a suit." The tailoring has been reworked in way that is both polished and unconstructed.
While the clothing remains subdued in unobtrusive navy and gray, personality flourishes in the accessories. Tattoo scarves were conceived over a glass of Barolo, the motifs drawn by Milan's renowned inker, Mr Corrado. Only 72 were fabricated in each color way, and just like the bright socks that Nagrani first gained attention with, the scarves encourage the wearers to express their "wit, individualism and sense of style."
Visit the VK Nagrani store (by appointment only) at 16 E 77th Street, Suite 1A, Manhattan.
Images courtesy of VK Nagrani