Saturdays NYC Interview
Surfing, Living and Working In New York
When it comes to making a positive impact from a cultural perspective it is hard to look beyond SATURDAYS. Since opening their doors in the summer of 2009 the retailer has developed into an established name far beyond its initial outlook. With surfing, living and working the cornerstone of the full fledged label, it is not hard to see how SATURDAYS have opened a new space in Tokyo with great success. No matter what your perception is of SATURDAYS, you can only appreciate their vision and values which make them a refreshing entity. I caught up with Morgan Collett, one third of the labels founders to talk about their roots, to fashion, to the new store and of course surfing.
James Oliver: Can you please go into a bit of detail about how SATURDAYS NYC started?
Morgan Collett: We started SATURDAYS because there really wasn’t anything like it in Manhattan. I grew up in Southern California and surfed my entire life. Surfing was all we did as kids, the surf shop helped raise us. It was an incredible time for me and we felt like that was missing from NYC. Surf culture was popular but the way it was represented in NYC did not speak to any of us. We all surfed as much as we could here in NYC and it really was confusing when spring would roll around and all the stores would throw up surfboards in their windows. One of the biggest moments for us is when the DKNY wall on Broadway and Houston was changed to a Hollister wall. My partners and I all worked in fashion at the time and when this happened it was pretty crazy. The DKNY wall was a NYC staple for over two decades and then it was gone, to be changed to a “surf brand” owned by Abercrombie & Fitch. We couldn’t relate and desperately wanted to create something that would have the ability to combine surf culture, style, fashion, NYC, with a lifestyle we could associate ourselves with. So, we began talking about it over the month of June in 2009 and through opportunity and excitement we opened our doors in August of the same year. Basically we closed our eyes and went for it.
JO: What is the concept of the store and brand?
MC: The concept of the store initially was to be a fully functional surf shop. There were no surf shops in the Manhattan area and so we wanted to create one. In the beginning it was exactly that. Boards (or however many we could afford to carry) third party clothing brands, coffee, and gear (wetsuits, leashes, wax, fins, etc). Over the course of the first year it grew organically with t-shirts then quickly into a full ready to wear collection for men. We all had backgrounds in men’s fashion sales, design, and publishing. I don’t think we could have planned it, it just kept happening and we kept working our ass’s off. With the development of the brand we really wanted to incorporate the feeling of the store into a line of clothes that people could relate to. Now SATURDAYS is an idea you can feel when you walk into the store. The entire store is SATURDAYS apparel and slowly we are developing more categories. Eyewear, shoes, etc. We want to make clothes that men can wear, that can be timeless and exude a sense of style we like.
JO: What does surfing mean to you?
MC: To me, surfing is the purest enjoyment. I’ve surfed since I was six years old and still it's all I think about. Even this morning skating to work down Mott Street I look up at the fire escapes that line the buildings and pretend I am getting barreled. My mind is always there even if I can’t make it to the beach for a month.
JO: It seems like you are aiming to create more of a culture around surfing, living and working rather than purely clothing. Can you go into a bit of detail about this?
MC: We basically wanted to develop something that incorporated everything we were into. We all skated a bunch, surfed, snowboarded, which was our base, but we also live in NYC, which was a huge addition for us. This city is incredible and there are people from all over the world here, people trying to make it in basically every realm imaginable. Art, music, fashion, photography, hotels, production, movies, accounting, stock trading, I mean this city has it all. It's impossible not be to influenced or inspired when you come here, we wanted to build all of that into SATURDAYS.
JO: Can you explain the clothing you make in your own words?
MC: We wanted to create a collection/ brand that focused on craftsmanship, authenticity, and traditional style. We took a lot of inspiration from the 50’s and 60’s, the dudes of endless summer, and our own personal style. We wanted to create a brand we could wear. Clothes that we could feel comfortable living our lives in, whether at the beach or in the city.
JO: For a young label, opening a store in Tokyo makes for a profound step in your short history. What does this mean to you and what can you expect from the space?
MC: Japan has been a country that has supported us since day one. It was a buyer from Japan that came into the shop wondering if we had t-shirt’s to sell. We have a very special place in our hearts for Japan. Opening a store in Tokyo is surreal for me. For all of us. Last time we were in Japan I think every few hours Colin, Josh, and I would look at each other and whisper “We’re in Tokyo" with a big smile. The opening means, even in a short time, dedication and hard work can pay off. The space is going to be incredible. I am not sure when this will be published, if the store will be open or not, but you can expect something incredible. Don’t know how much to give away here. Wow, the more I think about it the more excited I get.
JO: How will the store provide balance to the store in New York?
MC: I think that as different as the two stores will be, there will be an over all synergy to both stores. When you walk into the store in NYC we wanted people to get a feeling. Tokyo will offer that same feeling. Both Tokyo and NYC are such incredible metropolitan cities. We want to embrace Japan’s surf culture along with their City culture, similar to what we have done in NYC. I think we have and will accomplish this with SATURDAYS in Tokyo.
JO: What direction do you see SATURDAYS NYC going from here? Both short and long term?
MC: Short term, we have to make it through 2012. So many awesome things are happening and with some cool internal projects, people are going to be really stoked. I hope. We just need to keep organized and buckle down. I think we can sleep sometime in August haha. Long term we want to continue to focus on design, quality, and development. We are happy with where the brand is right now and we want to keep it there.
JO: Finally, words to live by?
MC: “Once you realize that it's up to you, and only you, you can accomplish anything.”
Photographer - Clement Pascal