A Conversation with Aaron Jacobson of FAAN

Fashion, Interview

Aaron Jacobson, designer behind newly launched label FAAN, has entered fashion from a parallel world of design: architecture. Standing behind his belief that fashion garments can flatter the sexes inclusively, many of FAAN’s pieces feature “allsex” silhouettes. The black on white cotton fabrics of varying weights lend further appeal to those who prefer a minimalist approach to style.

Deux Hommes had a chance to speak with Jacobson while he was visiting New York. He shares his journey from designing buildings in Beijing to designing jackets that either DH founder would wear any day of the week.

What does FAAN stand for?

FAAN does contain a subtle nod to a woman I worked with in Shanghai, but really,I just love the way it sounds—and the way it looks. That simple. I suppose I liked the idea of imposing meaning on a word that has none.

With an architecture background, what has been your motivation to design for fashion?

That transition has been remarkably fluid for me. Often, I still feel as though I am designing architecture; I’ve just shifted scales. Though, at the scale of a garment—and of the body—I can work more holistically, and much more autonomously. There is an immediacy in fashion design that I find thrilling.

How long have you been designing for? Any design training for clothing specifically?

I started studying and designing architecture about a decade ago. I have no formal training in clothing design. In fact, my first round of clothing samples all started as architectural drawings. I communicated with my sewers and patternmakers using the only visual language I knew. As I’ve move forward, my vocabulary has evolved into a strange hybrid of architectural and fashion conventions.

Are you a one-man show at this point in time?

I work very closely with my production manager. I design myself and manage the business myself, but as FAAN grows, so does our team.

I’ve seen FAAN’s Instagram and read a little about your background in international architecture. What influence has architecture had on your SS15 collection? On your aesthetic as a whole?

For my first assignment at an architecture firm in Beijing, I was asked to design a system of louvres to span a building façade. I worked out a really clever frame of interlocking metal bands, letting light through like a sun screen. My boss couldn’t have been more disappointed. Why would I try to invent something “So American” when materials like cloth and bamboo could achieve the same goals more simply and elegantly? He reminded me to respect the integrity of my materials. I’m diligent about that in my SS15 collection: I study the properties of a fiber—or the curves and movements of the body—and rather than imposing on them, I try to answer to them.

Designing requires compromise between ideas and fabrics. What fabrics did you work with? Why did you choose these?

My SS15 collection is mostly cotton. I wanted to maintain a lot of control over a focused material palette. I use some slightly heavier weights, too. So much of the collection can be worn comfortably from early spring to late fall.

There are many emerging ready-to-wear designers who are inspired to design using neutral color palettes with oversized silhouettes. Do you see this as a coincidence or a cultural movement in fashion?

I don’t think design lends itself to coincidence. We all engage with—and respond to—the same global cultural climate. In my own work, I get the most exciting results by manipulating the simplest shapes. I think that a lot of designers now are discovering beauty and value in the economy of form.

Is there a particular piece in your collection that’s your favorite?

The Pocket Top was the final piece I designed, and it happened so fluidly from the initial sketch to the final sample. It gave me a great boost of confidence in my production system, and in my own design process, as I look forward to my next collection.

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