Read Wall is a Washington, D.C., based menswear brand that takes the best of classic East Coast Ivy League style and deftly reinterprets it for today’s modern man. We have been following, and collaborating with, Read for several years and are continually impressed by this young man who has a clear-eyed understanding of what makes American style so intuitively attractive, but who also sees how it can be adjusted for the way we live today.
The label’s new brick-and-mortar store, located in the rapidly gentrifying Shaw neighborhood, indicates that Read Wall may be an urban prepster brand, but it’s also poised for bigger things. It’s a small space that perfectly captures the Read Wall brand story: classic yet modern, young at heart, and a sort of modern JFK feel with an architectural sense about it. The store’s inventory is tightly edited and split between excellent ready-to-wear clothing, including sport shirts crafted in outstanding Thomas Mason fabric and the aforementioned khakis, and a robust made to measure suiting program.
Read Wall the brand is grounded in classics, taking pride in being, as Read Wall the man says, “urban grandpa” fashion. As humorous and self-deprecating as that may sound, he has a very serious point. The long loved qualities that make American East Coast menswear so popular is the fact that in many ways it’s the same stuff your dad and grand-dad wore. What makes “preppy” fresh to each new generation is it’s unchanging qualities which can easily be tweaked without actually changing the core sensibilities. Khakis, blazers, some good shirts; these are the core elements of a great wardrobe that actually works.
As with any young designer, Read plays with but does not wholesale throw out what makes these classics, classic. While founded online, he actually wants to that local haberdasher, the place where you stroll in, grab a drink, discuss suits and shirts, and pick up a new pair of Brooklyn-made khakis that manage to be both densely woven and worn-in soft at the same time.
The Read Wall look is refreshingly realistic, not a bit of kitsch to be found. The house silhouette, presented in three suiting styles, is trim, but comfortably so. No skinny pants or jackets one can barely button. Trousers have a bit room in the seat and thigh – so that you can actually move and sit down in comfort. Cuffs are encouraged on all trousers and with a preference of two inches, they are a commitment to a particular menswear vernacular. A two-inch cuff on a pair of nicely tapered check-me out khakis means you have something to say about what makes a guy look good.
Jackets, even the more modern-leaning Grafton model, are cut slightly longer than current fashion might dictate because Wall feels that they should both visually balance the overall suit, but also because in the real world, that’s what actually looks good on most men. They opt for a nice natural shoulder that still has a structured quality to it which again creates a pleasing hybrid; traditional but fresh, old-school yet it feels young and new.
As with the retail space’s old-is-new feel, Read Wall the brand is planting its flag squarely in the territory of modern day classic American menswear. Yet, it’s not dandy-esque futsy or pandering to the overwrought preppy-everything crowd. Yes, there is a certain story-telling aspect to the label, but it isn’t done in the Ralph Lauren fantasy-world way. It’s more along the lines of Sid Mashburn or Freeman’s Sporting Club; branded, but it’s the goods, quality, vision, and commitment to a clear and consistent aesthetic that actually create the story.
When Read Wall first appeared on OTC in 2013, we saw something in this young guy that’s still apparent today. So, we will leave you with this orginal observation:
“In some ways, Read has no right to so effectively employ this stripped down, mature East Coast aesthetic. At a mere 26 years old, one might expect this young designer to be following the overblown faux old-world preppy trend, but no, he’s past that. Form, function, and offhanded class are core elements to the brand. Another driver is a commitment to creating true American sportswear; the kind that JFK effortlessly employed with great windswept success.”