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Street Beat: COMUNE

It’s easy to pigeonhole the streetwear market as just that: streetwear. Truth is, there are a variety of brands filling a niche of their own to distinguish themselves. One of these is COMUNE, a creative community providing clothing that reflects a lifestyle of carefree idealism.

COMUNE founder Frank Delgadillo comes from a distinguished apparel background. Dude created Ambiguous from his dorm room. In 2005, he created COMUNE to fill a void with a fresh approach. Well, his newest venture has built quite a buzz so I felt compelled to get the story behind it.

- Danny Spyra

BNQT – HOW WAS COMUNE FORMED / HOW WOULD YOU DESCRIBE COMUNE CLOTHING?

Frank – In 2005, I started experimenting with a new side project called COMUNE to allow a creative platform free of critiques and/or trend forecasts. It was sold to limited stores in Japan, and this project continued to flourish and fill a void in what was becoming a volatile retail marketplace. Faced with limitations to maintain the integrity and vision of the brand, I sold my interest in Ambiguous to develop COMUNE in the U.S. and bring a fresh approach and outlook to the men’s fashion arena.

The name COMUNE derives from the idea of a very pure, creative community. In addition it stems from frustration, from the changes happening in the economic climate along with bureaucratic challenges and lack of creative support in large corporate-run companies. In a sense everyone involved with COMUNE left bureaucracy for purity. COMUNE has become the perfect outlet in which creative freedom and commerce align to form a very pure, creative community.

BNQT – FALL 2010 MARKS THE ONE-YEAR ANNIVERSARY FOR COMUNE. CAN YOU GIVE US AN OVERVIEW OF THIS UPCOMING COLLECTION?

Frank – Fall 2010 was a very important collection for us. We knew the majority of the industry & retailers would be looking at us closely, wondering if we would be able to keep the momentum and price-conscious collections that we had set with the launch of the brand. So many new brands feel the need to adapt in their early years to conform to trends that are going on around them. They panic when they get that first market feedback. We took a different approach and stayed on course with what we knew we wanted to do, regardless of the market woes around us.

Fall 2010 continues the refined collection look that we have always planned to do, and we continually work towards what we feel a perfect balance of core and contemporary is. You can expect fitted wovens using simplified plaids and solid Oxfords, basic knits, outerwear with an actual function to it, and a broad range of great denim washes and new treatments. We pride ourselves in developing innovative washes and coatings in denim, and for FA10 we have a ‘Tea Stain’ and ‘Resin Coat’ finish that have really upped the bar, regardless of the price.

BNQT – THE CAMDEN SUIT JACKET SEEMS TO BRING A MODERN TWIST TO A CLASSIC GARMENT. WHAT WAS THE INSPIRATION BEHIND IT?

Frank – The Camden is a reaction to what we feel is a large gap in the industry, tailoring. Now, we aren’t claiming that the Camden is fully tailored suit jacket, but it is something that you can dress up, or down with, and not feel like you belong on either the Jersey Shore or at a Country Club dinner. The inspiration comes as everything else does with COMUNE – from the people behind it. This piece has taken a classic silhouette, broken it down to its foundation and reassembled using a modern perspective. Details like waxed poplin taping and lining details with a cotton/poly blend for the body really will set this piece apart while still being incredibly wearable. This isn’t the ‘reinvention’ of the blazer; it is a tailored blazer with a modern crop.

BNQT – I’VE SEEN A COMUNE JACKET THAT INCORPORATES REVERSIBLE / REMOVABLE SLEEVES. CAN YOU TELL US A BIT ABOUT THIS PIECE?

Frank – What can we say about the Dean. It is one of the most unique pieces that we have designed, and the most complex. The sleeves are not only removable, but also reversible. We used a heavy weight, 13.6oz Black rigid denim with an Oxblood plaid flannel lining. The sleeves are removable by zippers, and can be turned inside out and reversed. I’m not sure how many people are going to wear the sleeves reversed, but regardless that flannel lining is very comfortable and insulating. When summer comes, simply zip them off all together. This piece was one that kept us up late at nights, caused headaches in sampling, and was worth every second of it.

BNQT – YOUR CLOTHING PROVIDES FASHION AT AN UNFASHIONLY LOW-PRICE. HOW DO YOU KEEP YOUR PRICES SO REASONABLE?

Frank – Our skate roots keep price points at that of a core retailer; however, our collections are openly accepted and welcomed by contemporary accounts. Contemporary retailers love knowing they have well designed, price conscious product on their floor that they know will move, and won’t tie up a lot of their cash flow. It’s easy to design collections with a blank check and no retail limitations, but try balancing superior quality with an inferior retail price and you will see the constant struggle that we have.

We are a very small, tight knit team, and that being said we are able to keep our overhead from ballooning. Everyone at COMUNE wears more then one hat. The design and marketing team put in long hours every day of the week that most would pack up and leave if they had to do for one day a month. If one part of this team were missing, everything would come crashing down because that one person actually does the work of 2 or 3 people. If you think about it, FA10 was our ONE-year anniversary and we have already come this far. So I guess you could say one way we keep product price down is by keeping salary overhead to a minimum and just working ourselves to the bone!


BNQT – COMUNE CLOTHING REMINDS ME OF WEARABLE ART. WHAT KIND OF ARTISTS INSPIRE COMUNE?

Frank – We think the creative process that goes into designing our apparel feels like we’re making something special and unique. Typography is a huge inspiration to our feel as well as modernism and an overall attraction to minimalism. As far as artwork goes, we gravitate towards anything with shock value, but also admire beautiful things and subtlety. As long as it’s not somewhere in the void between those two we are interested! We don’t really identify with the urban vibe of street art but are not opposed to it. We have an eclectic group or artists, photographers, and bands we work with. Check the Drop City section of our website for complete bios and examples of our artists.

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