Fashion week has been crazy busy and it’s only day 2 — not to mention the fact that New York Fashion Week for womenswear starts in only a few days. But on Tuesday’s schedule, in addition to popping by the Public School Fall 2016 show (see our review here), we made it a point to see shows by other designers of color like Donrad Duncan’s Engineered for Motion. While there, we got a moment to pull the designer aside and ask him a few questions.
Founded in 2014, the premise behind EFM is pretty straightforward: “I wanted to create a product that’s no nonsense, no color, lightweight, I can put it on and jump on my bike and go to the studio or another creative environment, or go out for the evening and not have to change,” according to Duncan. That mission is echoed by many brands that have been adding technical components to their fashion brands, but few to the precision and appeal that Duncan does. The aesthetic lends itself to pieces like smart, water resistant jackets that are casual enough to wear out for a night in Brooklyn, can be elevated to a night at the opera via its removable fur collar (below).
Other pieces include rain-read slickers, suits that have the comfort of pajamas but the durability and elasticity of track pants as well as a variety of performance knits. Its a robust, but focused collection that the designer just recently presented to buyers at MRket in New York, prior to picking up an award from Fashioin Group International. “It’s been very busy of course because you’re being pulled in so many directions and you have to be present for everything,” Duncan said of the hectic moment. “There’s a lot that’s happening — right now I’m already thinking about Spring 2017.”
But the FGI Rising Star in Menswear award did come with significance for the designer. “You know that was an amazing experience, one with just getting the publicity from that.” Duncan explained. “[Two], it’s not easy winning an award. Also, knowing that it’s an organization started by women — Eleanor Roosevelt was a part of it — and that men are now being included in it is great. I think it’s a very positive thing for me to be acknowledged by them.” The creative took the award as a representative for his entire brand which includes a head designer that he works closely with and about four others in the studio. “We’re small but because everyone is so experienced with what they are doing, the flow is very efficient.”
For the near future, Duncan is looking for more recognition. “I just want to just grow and for the audience to acknowledge this product exists,” the designer said when asked about his plans for 2016. “Specifically I want to get into specialty retailers — retailers that really understand what this is. You know, potentialy doing retail stores, but the focus is really doing specialty retailers.” Currently the brand is in stores like CHCM in New York, Alvedon in Beverly Hills and Martin Patrick in Minneapolis. Their new head of sales for the company said that appointments for fall look good for key launches in the coming months.