When we headed to Laguna Beach to take a look at the flagship store and design space for Latitude Supply Co., we had no idea what we were in for. We had seen the preppy-classic, effortlessly cool designs that Latitude Supply Co. continually puts out, but getting a peak into the creative process put the collection in a whole new light.
Jonathan Riff, designer and creator of Latitude Supply Co., is a Laguna Beach, California native, and was ready to create a new collection that was completely different from anything else in the bustling beach community. Here at Labeling Men, we love exploring new design aesthetics and hearing how our favorite labels were created. By incorporating his passion for the water and an East Coast meets West Coast vibe, Latitude Supply Co. is pushing the boundaries to create a whole new look for the West Coast. Jonathan was nice enough to meet us on a beautiful Saturday morning in Laguna, coming straight from a sailing certification test.
Labeling Men: What are you wearing today?
Jonathan Riff: I’m wearing New England Outwear chukka boots, Hudson Jeans, and T-shirt by myself!
L.M: Tell us a little bit about the inspiration behind the brand and how you got started.
J.R: I originally got started just designing t-shirts for all my friends around here. I'm from Laguna Beach originally, and then in college I was doing all this stuff for my Greek-life organization, as well as other fraternities and sororities, making t-shirts and other odds and ends. I always had this concept for a line that was always the focus of my t-shirts: East Coast prep with West Coast cool...preppy surf wear, a little bit more upscale, for an older demographic than college kids. My senior year of college I started it, then I was in law school and I just wanted to do it and went for it!
L.M: The Nautical theme, and you mentioned the theme “East Coast prep meets West Coast” lifestyle…does that come from a place where you are sailing quite a bit?
J.R: It does. I always had a love for the ocean and it can basically connect you to anywhere in the entire world. I was mixing that travel theme, the whole concept behind it being resort wear or beach wear, not being just geared towards surf wear. All Orange County brands are all about that. It’s not like we don't support it, we are just going for a different take on the same concept.
L.M: That answers our next question of how you distinguish the brand from your competitors....
J.R: Yeah, growing up here, everything has that surf wear vibe; you've seen a bunch of brands do well with it. I want to go after the same demographic with the same type of lifestyle with the brand.
L.M: Is there any celebrity or icon that wears your line?
J.R: Can't think of anybody right now; just myself!
L.M: You only use factories in Los Angeles; why was that so important to you?
J.R: Well, I started using factories in Orange County because it’s closer. I didn't even know there were any until I started exploring a little more. I like domestic production; it gives you a lot quicker turn around time. I've dealt with factories over seas and everything like that. Being able to source your own fabrics, take it right to the manufacturer and watch it through the whole entire process, instead of in China where either you have to go over there or wait for months-long shipping time just to get here. You can take a product concept to reality a lot quicker. You don't have to do 600 pieces; you can test something that is in the works and go from there.
L.M: A little more control…
J.R: Exactly! I'll still make some stuff in China but once it’s in the pipeline, I can't edit it.
L.M: What would be one of your go-to items from your collection?
J.R: The anchor button down right there! [Click here to see it!]
L.M: How did that design come about?
J.R: We've always loved using anchors in a lot of our stuff, and we had this on a Japanese cotton shirt that we had small little anchors on, and found this one and integrated it into a bunch of different stuff. And we plan to re-use it into other clothing as well. If the style does well, we keep with it.
L.M: How does the manifesto of the brand tie into the lifestyle and your consumers?
J.R: I've always gone about it designing clothes that I would wear for myself and that’s kind of how it’s generated into the company and life. I like surf wear, I like clothes, board shorts…it’s about creating something simple that you can dress up a little more.
L.M: Our name is Labeling Men; what do you think your label would be?
J.R: I like the Captain Kennedy one, I would give it that! [Click to see our Captain Kennedy Style Guide]
L.M: We always tie it back to dating stories; do you have a funny dating story or some dating advice?
J.R: I want to dive right in...[laughs] No! Take things slow, try to figure out who you are first before you go and be with somebody else. I was always the girlfriend guy, then I realized, "Let me be my own person for a little bit.” I had a serious girlfriend for four years at college and my little brother is going into his freshman year, and I told him, "Hey, don't be in a rush, have some fun!"
Visit Latitude Supply Co's website at www.latitudesupplyco.com to view their latest collection, and follow them on social media @latitude_supply_co.
Interview by Mischa Teichgraeber