Walking into the Liberty Fairs and Project Cobalt produced event New York Men’s Day held at Pier 94 I didn’t know exactly what to expect. The event is intended to help aspiring menswear designers develop a platform for their brand, and provide a showcase that gives interested costumers and investors a look at their imprint. I was their to meet with Johnathan Taylor the designer of Moment Homme. His brand, which strongly demonstrates an extensive aesthetic, mixing classic American tailored pieces with denim, while manifesting a strong Japanese component and use of the best materials from around the world, including mills in Italy and Scotland, had been hand picked by Sharifa Murdock and included in WWD’s “Ones to Watch at NYFW: Men’s”; the idea of talking to such a high quality designer unnerved me. It was also easily one of the hottest days of the year and my commute to Manhattan rendered me drenched and uncomfortable, adding to my anxiety. As soon as I met with Johnathan Taylor, however, something changed, and I noticed that there was something curiously engaging about his nature; immediately the conversation kicked off and I was grabbed. He was charismatic from the get go, I had forgotten about my discomfort.
“Johnathan, nice to meet you, my name is Keegan. Excuse my clammy hands, this heat is ridiculous.”
“Ha, we all feel it brother. Nice to meet you, Keegan.”
He shook my hand firmly and politely gave me a smile fit for welcoming a guest into your home for the first time. Before we even began speaking I knew that he couldn’t wait to gush about what looked to be his proudest work. The brightness in his eyes gave it away. I admired the standard of the clothes before me for a moment, I was drawn in. I am no fashion aficionado but I have taste and I can recognize impeccable quality, I was impressed; I was looking at the type of clothes I would hesitate to touch. “Moment Homme” I said to myself, it rolled off the tongue elegantly. His media representative ushered away and encouraged us to call her if we needed anything to which Johnathan assured her that wouldn’t be necessary as we were just hanging out.
“I must admit, I had a preconceived notion of you, as a designer, from what I read about many designers and their massive egos and identities that I can already tell was wrong. How do you manage to be so humble in such a competitive sport?” I broke off and asked him.
“It’s not about me, it’s about the garments. I have nothing to show but my work and nothing to prove but the quality of my clothes. It speaks for itself.”
“Why Moment Homme? Can you give me a bit of background on that… can I feel the clothes?
“I chose Moment Homme because I wanted the brand name to signify a moment. I special time frame, a capture of a feeling. I was raised in a very warm, welcoming home environment with a lot of picture frames that signified special moments. As well, I’ve always loved the sound ‘MOM’ (pronounced: mome) makes and Homme is both pleasing to the ear and French for ‘men’, to highlight the menswear aspect,” he explained as I examined each piece on display, carefully.
He went on to show me that every tag was customized to look like a picture frame with the brand name embroidered in the middle to keep the details in uniform with the central idea. Most of the pieces were custom pieces that I had never seen before that still looked as though they were familiar enough to fit right into my closet. As we spoke, I learnt that he had gone grown up in Arkansas where he had found a keen liking and gift with art from a very young age. In high school he was a full fledged art geek and a football jock, he then went on to attend University of Arkansas where he got a degree in industrial design, thinking it wise to prioritize job safety over everything. His career path continued to get interesting.
“I ended up getting a call to move to St. Louis to become a juvenile probation officer. I had no experience but I began to work with the kids there and learnt a lot along the way. Some of which surely led me to this point.”
During his time as an officer, when he wasn’t saving his pay checks he was taking road trips to malls in Chicago to splurge on high-end, quality clothing. After some years of being told over and over again that he should consider fashion design due to his rapidly developing reputation as a well-dressed trend setter and taste maker, he decided to move and enrol in the Art Institute of Chicago choosing to focus on Menswear Design; there, he excelled.
“After I graduated from AIC I made the instant leap to New York City. I set up my portfolio and applied to Thom Browne, I was hired right away to work on the companies design team. I used that leverage I gained at Thom Browne to ultimately get me to here today.”
His impactful work at Thom Browne took him to Paris Fashion Week and involved him in many runway designs. He eventually left Thom Browne to do freelance design and focus on his personal brand Moment Homme. His talents have earned him features in GQ, WWD, and Hypebeast all on his way to this impressive debut.
“Where do you get your inspiration from? Your designs all seem very thoughtful, how do the concepts come about?”
“I get my inspiration from the world. My strength is in sketching and outlining so what I do is go out into the city and observe people, look for those that are well-dressed and try to conceptualize outfits from that. It is very rare that I find someone though, I am more likely to sketch my own simple piece and develop the concepts from that original drawing.”
“Does that attention go into the development of the lookbook?”
“Yes of course, I would never use anything that wasn’t a part of the entire collection. It all ties in, it all represents where the brand came from and means to me.”
Like the design, the look book’s aesthetic is that of a warm and comfortable home environment; a place appropriate for displaying important moments in one’s life, complete with picture frames and house plants. As the conversation flowed I learnt of his early love for painting, he was happily married, and fully aware of the work that he still needed to be done while being able to appreciate what he has already accomplished.
“I am fully satisfied with how this line was executed. I work on confirmation too, it was great feedback to be handpicked by Sharifa to be on display for Project Cobalt. I know I still have work to do and will continue developing this line for some years to come.”
“What exactly is Project Cobalt?”
“Project Cobalt is a collective creative house. They bring together creative in all genres, film, fashion, tech whatever you name it and they support it. They get involved heavily with these displays for New York Men’s Day. They make this all possible.
“Do you see this brand selling in any stores?”
“Yeah when I open my own one day,” he laughs, “I have a lot of work left to do. I have only begun, I have a responsibility to the people who believe in me and for the people who may never have this opportunity.”
As we stood talking, groups of people stopped to admire his display. His passion and excitement never waivered as we spoke for over two hours. He spoke of his admiration of a wide array of music from Kendrick Lamar to Project Pat and his tastes in a variety of topics, from film to food, happy to relate how each of them played into the development of his creativity. He was a man of the world.
“It’s not smart to just live in a design box. There are things happening in the world everyday that are so important. Live has to be lived.”
I thanked him for his time and prepared to leave him just as we had met, an artist ebbing with passion and a love for life destined to carry his talent and quality of work to the forefront; Paris Fashion Week and beyond.
“They won’t be able deny my quality. I’m taking my time but soon Moment Homme will be global.”
Check out the Moment Homme look book and Johnathan Taylor here.