BEHIND THE SEAMS: Bravery For All
Sometimes all you need is a really good pair of denim, and one of our favorite menswear lines, Bravery For All, has just that and so much more. Bravery For All is changing the menswear game by blurring the lines of contemporary style with classic, vintage aesthetic. We sat down with cofounders Sean Lawler and Matt Waterbury to discuss their design inspirations, putting their “bravery pants on” literally and figuratively, and their upcoming ventures.
LABELING MEN: How did Bravery For All come about, what was the concept behind it?
SEAN LAWLER: Matt and I were having a couple of drinks one night, and kind of the conversation of what was next came up. We both have worked for a whole bunch of other brands and we just decided we wanted to try something new and we weren’t having much fun anymore and we wanted to relight the spark.
MATT WATERBURY: We’ve been in it for a long time.
SEAN LAWLER: Once we started talking we realized our vision for the brand was very similar.
LABELING MEN: That’s cool!
MATT WATERBURY: Once we sat down and started talking we were like, what does that look like, and then we kind of realized we were both on the same page and both had the same vision if we were to do something on our own. So that started the conversation and went from there and grew into what we have.
LABELING MEN: Which is amazing!
MATT WATERBURY: Thank you (laughs).
LABELING MEN: So how did you two meet then? Through past jobs?
SEAN LAWLER: So we worked together in the past, so we already knew we worked well together, which I think is a big part of running your own business, especially when there is only two of us.
LABELING MEN: Huge.
MATT WATERBURY: Yeah, it’s basically like a marriage, haha.
LABELING MEN: For sure! (laughs) So what was the philosophy behind the name, Bravery for All?
SEAN LAWLER: Once we started talking about what the brand looked like, we realized we were going to have to leave these corporate, fashion jobs and step into the complete unknown.
MATT WATERBURY: Very comfortable, corporate jobs.
SEAN LAWLER: So I think we kind of said what was the name going to be and we said, “bravery, this is our bravery,” taking the plunge.
MATT WATERBURY: We always had a motto of putting your brave pants on, putting your bravery pants on.
LABELING MEN: I love that!
MATT WATERBURY: Which was starting our own company, that was really facing our bravery and it’s scary.
LABELING MEN: Definitely, that’s great. So, what differentiates your brand from other menswear brands?
SEAN LAWLER: I think that we have a really big love for vintage and a lot of very classic menswear. I think our twist and our take and what makes it different is that we take these classic, vintage pieces that we have a love for and put our spin on it. We kind of bring it some sort of new aspect. A different sort of fabrication, fabric mixing, fabric technology, or washes or even taking a very classic silhouette and maybe adding a drop tail, or a curved hem, something very subtle. It still has that love that we have but it’s bringing it forward, modern fits, modernizing. It’s a very nice mesh of those two things.
MATT WATERBURY: Yes, building from a classic menswear platform and modernizing it with different fabric or fits.
LABELING MEN: Awesome! So, how you would label the kind of guy that wears your line?
SEAN LAWLER: I think our Bravery customer is a guy who has a sense of fashion but he’s not necessarily fashion forward. I’d say he wants to build the rules, so we still have a basis of a classic menswear brand but with these bright patterns and unique fits. He’s a guy who wants to make a little noise, but he’s not completely out there.
LABELING MEN: So, a little bit of a risk taker?
MATT WATERBURY: He’s definitely a guy who appreciates quality and will invest in a piece. He wants to invest in what he wears and he respects and appreciates quality in that certain fashion pieces are an investment. Some pieces will last you a lifetime and our customer is knowledgeable about that stuff.
LABELING MEN: So what are some of your favorite pieces from the new collection?
MATT WATERBURY: That’s a tough one!
SEAN LAWLER: Favorite pieces, I would have to say there’s a hooded pop over with a drop tail (grabs it).
LABELING MEN: Ooohh, I like that!
SEAN LAWLER: So you know a pop over silhouette is a very utilitarian, vintage silhouette. What we have done to modernize it is to throw a hood on it and put a drop tail with a zip in the back but it still has a standard cuff and placate. So we have kind of meshed two garments together to make it forward.
LABELING MEN: Very cool! So when you guys design do you design together or is someone a little more of the creative?
MATT WATERBURY: It’s a very collaborate effort, I think we both bounce ideas off each other constantly. It’s almost just a dialogue between the two of us. One of us will have an idea and the other will say, “What if we do it in this fabric?” And we get to the end result where we are both like, “There it is!”
SEAN LAWLER: I think the great part about it is there is not a lot of ego. We both really see it as a collaboration and we both contribute to producing an end piece that’s better than what one of us might have created on our own.
MATT WATERBURY: Realizing that the person can see something that maybe you don’t see or has an idea that can take it to the next level and being open to that feedback. It’s just being open to that constant dialogue.
LABELING MEN: Awesome. What were some of your inspirations for this specific collection? Or who?
SEAN LAWLER: For this collection, I’m not sure if you can tell by looking at it but there’s kind of our thread that runs through everything that is the theme behind it. It was a very utilitarian, military concept that we took and kind of softened a little bit by using softer fabrications when it came to the knits and patterns. But keeping it very almost monochromatic.
LABELING MEN: What would be a staple piece that really identifies your brand?
MATT WATERBURY: I think for me, my favorite pieces that we’ve done is the JONES moto jogger, the distressed craftskin, just because we spent a lot of time developing it and it’s such a unique wash. There is so much time that goes in every single wash, it takes the factory an entire day to complete one garment because the process of the wash is done by hand, so every single piece will go through 6-7 factory workers, each with their own specific talent and artistic, almost like a paint brush, and it moves through the line. That’s one of my favorite pieces just because of how much goes into producing the final product.
LABELING MEN: That’s very special and makes it more one of a kind.
MATT WATERBURY: Yeah, every piece is different and special.
SEAN LAWLER: I really love our oil tech washing, which we’ve done in a whole bunch of different colors now. Rather than just doing a solid garment dye piece we do this unique oil treatment that actually applies oil to the piece so that when you wear it and it creases from the shape of your body - when you bend your knee, things like that - oil actually moves throughout the garment and builds up in certain places. So every piece will be different on every person after a while. So it allows you to imprint your own style onto it.
LABELING MEN: That’s awesome and so unique. Are there any celebrities that are the epitome of your guy?
MATT WATERBURY: We would both agree that David Beckham doesn’t look bad in anything.
LABELING MEN: I will agree with you on that as well!
SEAN LAWLER: Yeah, I think he’s an obvious one. David Beckham, Jared Leto…
MATT WATERBURY: Adam Levine…
SEAN LAWLER: Yeah, those are definitely top three.
LABELING MEN: All my favorite guys! You nailed it! (Laughs) How do you guys define your own personal style?
SEAN LAWLER: I would say it’s very simple. For the most part, it’s white or black tees and denim and either vans or loafers. It’s pretty straight forward, almost like a uniform.
MATT WATERBURY: (Laughs) Yeah, and we both will show up to the office in the exact same thing. White tee or black tee and a good pair of denim. Most of the time it’s Bravery denim. Sometimes it’s the same pair.
LABELING MEN: Twins! Haha, awesome. So where are a few stores where we can purchase BFA?
MATT WATERBURY: We are in KIN Los Angeles, LASC in Hollywood and Kitson on Melrose and Robertson. And BraveryForAll.com, obviously.
LABELING MEN: Didn’t you have a whole storefront for Kitson?
MATT WATERBURY: Yeah!
LABELING MEN: That’s huge!
MATT WATERBURY: Yeah, we were really excited about that.
SEAN LAWLER: They did that without us even knowing, which was even cooler.
LABELING MEN: So you just popped by and were like, “Oh, Hey! That’s our stuff!”
SEAN LAWLER: We had friends sending us pictures of the window display, we didn’t even know!
LABELING MEN: That is so cool! So, what are some future plans?
MATT WATERBURY: Coming up we are working on some collaborations with other brands. Obviously expanding the product category, expanding our offerings and different categories.
SEAN LAWLER: Distribution, really starting to move into other large markets. East Coast, New York, Chicago, Miami. Just really starting to give more people the opportunity to get Bravery and get the product out there.
MATT WATERBURY: Yeah, I think in the beginning we really tried to keep it small and exclusive because we wanted to get feedback and refine the line and really wanted to make sure everything was in place and that we were putting our best foot forward before we went to the masses.
SEAN LAWLER: And just to have more fun! That is always on the list.
LABELING MEN: Can you tell me about any of the collaboration you guys have coming up?
SEAN LAWLER: Not yet, we have a couple of things in the works. And really collaborations for us are just the opportunity to work with other creative people. Which is why we do what we do in the first place.
Shop their latest collections at braveryforall.com
Interview and photos by Mischa Teichgraeber
This interview has been edited and condensed