It is no secret that the sensibility of J.McLaughlin’s timeless American sportswear focuses on style, not fashion. The Society Diaries caught up with the brand’s founders, Kevin and Jay McLaughlin, to learn more about their aesthetic and not surprisingly, we learned how being simply elegant suits them best.
Simply put, the brand’s designs are reflective of how their customer lives, plays, and travels. This point of view extends to the locations of the company’s store portfolio as well. Case in point: the brand’s Texas stores. “Dallas, Houston and San Antonio are cities known for their discerning clientele,” says Jay. “We wanted to expand our brand presence and built a loyal following through trunk shows, as well as our website. Once we secured the right sites, we knew the stores would be a shopping destination. Since our Dallas and Houston stores opened in July, 2013 they have been performing beyond expectations and we have every reason to expect San Antonio will do the same.”
How did it all begin? Some 35 years ago, the brothers, then in their twenties, fueled by their passion for great style in good taste and flush with seed money from some ventures into historic Brooklyn brownstone renovations, decided to build a very different kind of house. Their dream: a clothing establishment designed to present their take on classic American sportswear and accessories in elegantly comfortable surroundings. To make their version of Saturday shopping, they looked to site their first shop on a stretch of Manhattan’s Upper East Side that was home to a pair of “the post-Ivy League set’s” favorite watering holes.
Focusing their vision on a rich tapestry of iconic American classics, they re-imagined the fundamentals to create a look and brand uniquely their own. The J.McLaughlin customer is someone who has a strong sense of his or her individual style, who demands designs that are timeless yet modern, quality materials, and attention to detail. Most of all, the J.McLaughlin customer loves colors and patterns, which is a part of the brand DNA. That is certainly evident in their most current offerings.
“We were inspired by our signature color, blue,” says Kevin about their spring 2014 collection. “We’ve always liked the color blue because it connotes trust, loyalty, serenity. Plus, we’ve always loved summers at the beach and the particular shade of blue which captures the sea, sky and swimming pools.” He continues, “When designing a season, we always look at how we can tweak our most-loved pieces to give our customer freshness. This spring we added a classic shirtdress in silk crepe de chine in prints that give it a fun, yet still classic vibe.”
Patterns and abundant color are also an integral part of the spring collection. “For our 1960’s inspired Swing Dress,” Kevin continues, “we’re offering it in a vibrant stripe inspired by our love of upholstery fabric and textiles that is just breathtaking. Mixing patterns is also part of our design aesthetic and our customer really responds to that. For example, we’ve tweaked our popular Biscayne Tunic with a contrast collar this season. For men, we’re thrilled to take our colorful shirting in a new, more modern direction. Our new Trim Fit Shirt comes in patterns that wink at tradition, in a more streamlined fit we feel is very of the moment.”
The J.McLaughlin design aesthetic also extends to the brand’s stores. Residential in feel and reflective of the surroundings, they evoke a comfortable sense of always having been there. While at the same time, their inimitable bespoke décor (no two are alike) encourages customers to linger awhile and browse. Discover the J.McLaughlin collections and legendary customer service in person at in Houston at 1963 West Gray, in Dallas at the Plaza at Preston Center, and in San Antonio at La Cantera Mall.