What do Nike, Missoni, Calvin Klein, and the Gap all have in common? We'll give you a hint: Designers from these four brands, searching for a more creative outlet, have come together to launch a New York-based design collective called Gar-de (pronounced "Garde"). And creative it is: Judging by the fall/winter '08 collection, these cowhide-happy modistes have a bright future ahead of them.
The men's and women's pieces—all variations on the classic leather jacket plus leather-based accessories—are edgy while displaying clean, sophisticated design. Zippers, seams, and buttons are in unexpected places, yet—lest you picture a punked-out mess—the collection is thoroughly wearable. A red-and-white plaid lining softens a men's motorcycle jacket, and a womens' navy bomber with an oversized collar is straight-up sexy.
Even better: It's fashion with a moral compass. Though the designers work for some of the most mass-market brands out there, Gar-de eschews large-scale production of any kind: All the leather comes from local Italian producers in an effort to promote local product development and collaboration with specialized artisans. Who thought being so good could be so damned sexy?