Menswear Makeover

Where Dallas - - NEWS -

Busi­ness at­tire gets an ath­letic up­grade with Dal­las cloth­ing brand Mizzen+Main.

Fre­quent trav­eler Kevin Lavelle knew noth­ing about fash­ion man­u­fac­tur­ing when he launched menswear brand Mizzen+Main three years ago. What he did have was an idea for a dress shirt that pre­vented sweat stains and wouldn’t wrin­kle. Us­ing per­for­mance fab­ric used by la­bels like Nike and Un­der Ar­mour, Mizzen+Main did just that, de­vel­op­ing a fit­ted de­sign that both ath­letes and busi­ness­men have em­braced. With doc­tors, base­ball play­ers and guys-on-the-go (like Dal­las Mavs owner Mark Cuban) fol­low­ing suit, we sat down with Lavelle to find out what’s next for the Dal­las-based brand.

What sparked the idea for a per­for­mance fab­ric dress shirt? Dur­ing an in­tern­ship in Washington, D.C., I watched a guy run into a build­ing drip­ping in sweat. I was 19 and knew noth­ing about start­ing my own com­pany, but the idea stayed with me for years.

I’d been work­ing in Dal­las when I had to give it a shot. I re­ally felt like, why would guys not want a shirt that per­formed like their work­out gear but they could wear with a suit and tie? So far, peo­ple are lov­ing the prod­uct; once you try our shirts, it’s re­ally hard to go back to wear­ing a cot­ton dress shirt.

What’s the sig­nif­i­cance of the name, Mizzen+Main? The main, mizzen and jib are the first three masts on a sail­boat. It’s an homage to that clas­sic, East Coast lifestyle.

How did you de­ter­mine the prod­uct would fill a void in the mar­ket? Ul­ti­mately, I think the rea­son ath­letic ap­parel com­pa­nies haven’t done it is they need their logo, and guys don’t want to wear a logo dress shirt to the of­fice. We don’t have one on our shirts; our sig­na­ture mark is a blue but­ton­hole, which rep­re­sents “blue col­lar meets white col­lar.”

We’re not try­ing to be trendy; we’re for guys that need to dress up but want their shirts to work as hard as they do. I want you to pick up the shirt 10 years from now and still feel like you’re able to wear it. Aside from online, where can peo­ple shop for Mizzen+Main, in Dal­las and else­where? In Dal­las, cer­tainly here at our of­fice in the De­sign Dis­trict, and at St. Bernard’s, which is also in Austin. We’re in three Saks Fifth Av­enue stores – St. Louis, New Or­leans and just out­side Man­hat­tan in New Jersey – as well as 13 Kin­nu­can’s lo­ca­tions across the South­east and a bunch of golf pro shops.

What new prod­ucts is Mizzen+Main launch­ing for the fall? Any at­tire for women? Be­cause we usu­ally do ba­sics, we added a few bolder pat­terns like a madras plaid ear­lier this spring, and will add another in the fall. We’re step­ping out a lit­tle bit with a blue dobby this sea­son, which is a bit more of a trendier gar­ment.

We’re still ex­per­i­ment­ing with men’s fits and pat­terns, but with women, you get one shot; we’re wait­ing [to do a line for] women be­cause we want to make sure we do it right from the start.

As an on-the-go guy your­self, what are some of your tried-andtrue travel tips? I travel any­where be­tween two and nine times a month, so I’m pretty ag­gres­sive in my travel ef­fi­cien­cies and just in how I pack: Go with as many ba­sics as pos­si­ble so you can ro­tate through them, and wear your nice pair of shoes on the plane in­stead of pack­ing them; if you do pack them, use shoe trees so they don’t crum­ble.

For shoes, I like brown, blue or gray, be­cause it’s harder to mix and match with black. [Mizzen+Main] has one blazer that’s good for travel, but for guys who have to wear a for­mal suit I’d say wear it on the plane in­stead of pack­ing it – or have a flight at­ten­dant hang it up – so it doesn’t wrin­kle.

We will be do­ing suit­ing at some point next year though, so hope­fully we’ll solve that prob­lem.

In ad­di­tion to its top sellers, the brand launches a line of po­los and mod­ern prints this fall.

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