Last year, we spoke with designers Jeffrey Costello and Robert Tagliapietra as they shuttered their fashion house, Costello Tagliapietra in order to focus full time on their new venture, JCRT. 9 months or so since launch, and it’s still going strong, making hand-crafted plaid shirts with sizes to 4X. We caught up with them to find out how things are going, and to see what’s on the horizon for the rest of 2017.
So, it’s been one heck of a year, hasn’t it? For those who may not be in the know, tell us what’s been going on for the past year with you boys and the new JCRT label.
After shutting Costello Tagliapietra, we met with a few brands about the possibilities of moving into more of a creative director position, and then the opportunity of launching our own collection popped up, and we couldn’t resist. JCRT is a brand launched for our love of all things plaid. From its inception, we knew this would be a brand that would stand for something and be specific in what it offered.
Plaid itself was created as a way for people to align themselves with clans and tribes, and to represent that visually. JCRT has taken that idea and expanded it with the hope of creating a new tribe, one in which our customer is part of something bigger, but still able to feel unique and individual. We do this through our limited runs of plaids which is unique to JCRT as we own our own factories and are not beholden to the insane minimums other companies are. We do not need to run literally thousands of a plaid, we can run as few as ten!
We love this concept of individuality through unity! We also have the unique ability to run plaids with large scales and still have them match across shoulders and sleeves, around the body, and throughout like a custom tailored shirt. We use the finest fabrics and the highest grade interfacings for the collars and cuffs and each shirt is individually hand cut and sewn to ensure precision and quality.
From the outside looking in, with the ever-growing product line, it looks like things are going well. I assume there was a decent demand for menswear from you two before the JCRT project ever got off the ground. Has that demand continued?
Yes, we are so grateful to all the pioneers of JCRT [who were] willing to take a chance with us, and to grow with us. Our aim is to work hard on each new piece we launch, to listen to the customers and perfect the pieces along the way. Fashion should be a work in progress- always changing and growing. The liberty we feel by doing this outside of retail, where we make these decisions directly with only our customer in mind furthers this idea of community.
Obviously, menswear is significantly different than the fine women’s clothing you were designing previously. Has there been much of a learning curve going from ponce to poplin?
We began our careers in fashion making clothing for music tours, movies, videos and private clients, and always had to flip between men’s and women’s wardrobes. At the core of what we do is always this root in pattern making and tailoring. Whether it’s a jersey dress or dress shirt, these are the paradigms we are working in and these are the ideals that drive us as creators.
As two bigger men yourselves, was there any pressure, or did you feel obligated to design clothing for similarly-sized men?
No. We never wanted to just design clothing for bigger guys, because that feels patronizing. Those brands have a tendency to just placate a demographic with watered down styles of other brands. That is not how we shopped and not the experience we wanted to shop within. We wanted the same opportunities as others: the same clothes, the same quality, and the same style. For us, it is more about being democratic in our sizing, allowing larger men the same opportunities as smaller men.
The most exciting thing we are looking forward to this year is the opportunity [to offer] custom shirts, so that all sizes and shapes can get JCRT! One of the things we made sure of was that the price did not jump from the extra small to the 4X, we want this to be a fair brand, and one that creates tribes and communities not separation!
What sort of feedback, if any, has JCRT received from the plus-size community?
The best thing we receive are letters and photos from guys who feel great and stylish in JCRT! We have always personally been lucky to have the ability to make our own clothing, and did not realize the extent of the difficulty guys have fitting into clothing with style. To see someone with a huge smile on their face wearing something that we made with our own hands is the best gift we could hope for!
In an announcement released on February 2, 2017, 969 more weeks of plaid was predicted by a groundhog. That’s over 18 years. So, JCRT plaid will be around for a while, but what else is in store for the label?
This year some of the things we will be introducing are pants, shorts, more shirt styles, bags and most importantly a lot more plaids! Being a young startup, we are doing the patterns, plaids and the grading ourselves. We did not want to just work with existing patterns at shirt factories, or existing plaids at mills. Doing it all ourselves takes time, and we want to ensure that everything has our hand, our eye and most importantly our love.
Visit jc-rt.com and see their hand crafted plaid shirts in sizes to 4X for yourself.