Combining sportswear staples with premium fabrics, Brooklyn based Adsum NYC create collections that focus on functionality and detail. Founded by Pete Mcanee and Christian Rice in 2015, they take inspiration from their combined experiences growing up in US and Canada. We caught up with them to hear more about themselves and their new collection.
1. How did Adsum start?
I was in between jobs and made my first pattern through McNairy’s NYC pattern maker, Yasu, who was on 38th street. I reworked a Balmac jacket. It snowballed from there.
2. Where does the name come from?
Adsum means “Here” or “I am present”. I came across it while we were flushing out our initial brand deck and the simplicity of the word and meaning spoke to me. It’s a good way to live.
3. What was the first product you designed?
I spoiled this answer with question one. I can say that the first product I was proud of was our FW16 Alpine Vest and Jacket. We produced them in Vancouver with a manufacturer that did a lot of Eddie Bauer, Marmot, Patagonia. It was before these companies moved overseas. The margin was brutal on the vest and jacket but it made wholesale accounts we were chasing at the time aware of our intentions as a brand.
4. What did your experience at Billionaires Boys Club teach you?
Working at BBC gave me a chance to learn how to be a developer in the fashion industry. It gave me basic understand of timelines, a developers role and what everyone else did at the company. I met some incredible people who helped teach me the ins and outs of the industry. Thank you Leeds, Lamont, Ben, Bevans.
5. And what were your key learnings from your time at Mark McNairy’s?
Me and McNairy see eye to eye on a lot of things. We initially connected on music. A key learning from McNairy was trusting my gut when it comes to design choices. Mark knows what he like and never second guesses anything. I got to travel to Japan with Mark while he was doing an Edifice collaboration. Mark’s been traveling to Tokyo for a long time and knows all the best retail and food spots. I got to hit the Adidas Japan headquarters in Roponggi to look at first samples he did with Kazuki Kuraishi and we also got to see the WTAPS / Neighborhood design offices. It was a really special experience for me.
6. How much of a role does your upbringing play on your designs?
Building on what I said above, I’ve only ever designed what I’m interested in and what truly inspires me. There’s a few more guys involved with Adsum now and they’ve started to have an impact on the look and feel as well. It’s kind of like casting a movie, or finding the right players on an album. People bring their own experiences and styles to create something bigger.
7. Are there any specific decades that resonate with you most for inspiration?
90s and 00s are what made me and the rest of the fellas at Adsum so that’s where we usually pull from. We all like retrospective photos from the 60s and 70s. It feels like they have a bit more soul. It was all film back then and getting a good photo took more patience.
8. You draw from a lot of different influences, from Canadian artists to major sports brands, with the end-product being very streamlined and clean; do you have a process which boils it all down / how do you get from such a wide variety of influences to your end collection?
The clothing, silhouettes, trim, colour is the easy part for me. I don’t have to spend too much time deliberating. On the other hand, finding a good starting point can take time. I try to work through how it’s going to direct all elements of the collection before we commit. So in my head I ask myself, what graphic collection could we spin from this, what blog posts could we write.
9. We can see a lot of influence from vintage sportswear – would you say sportswear is part of the American identity?
It’s part of the American culture that I identify with. Without getting too geeky, almost everything I wear has its roots in sportswear. T-shirts, shorts, hoodies. Tee shirts came to prominence when the Navy started issuing them as official under garments. The hoodie is rooted in workwear and were originally made for labourers working in upstate NY. Both pieces were adopted by American sports culture. A classic tee and hoodie to me is collegiate hoodie or a sports team I played on growing up.
10. We know you don’t chase trends – what do you think about the trend for technical / sports fabrics being used in luxury / high fashion?
I like that it’s trending right now. 20 years ago people didn’t buy clothes to work out in. It’s a relatively new phenomenon that I’m definitely influenced by. The big non-fashion clothing companies have capitalised on it in a big way. I listened to Lululemon founder Chip Wilson on a podcast talk about how he saw the yoga trend take shape in western Canada so he started making stretchy pants for women to practice yoga in. Lululemon was born. They tapped into something authentic and did incredibly well. The big fashion houses noticed and started using sports as a reference point, which is cool. I’m interested in how long they’ll be into it.
11. What are your key pieces for AW18?
My personal favourites are the slate Super Series t-shirt, the yellow full zip anorak and our premium button down. We made a new button down shirt block that has good volume. There’s a wool blend plaid is my personal favourite from the three colour options available. The Super Series tee is made out of a dense jersey. It’s heavyweight dry cotton. If our customers liked our SS18 tees they should enjoy the heavyweight variant for FW18.
12. Are there any details we should look out for?
The season has a rich coluor palette that’s good for the fall, there’s some bold graphics and we have a fleece style called the flop neck fleece that’s a little irreverent for us but I’ll be wearing it a lot.
13. We know you have kept your distribution very tight – what is it about Garbstore that you like?
You guys stay true to your values and we share similar values. We appreciate quality, classic design and subtle bits of irreverence. I remember picking up a Garbstore shoe in Toronto and really liking the design and colourway of the shoe without knowing the brand. The shoe was built focusing on the small details. Reverse stitching, damask labels, material play. I could tell that there was a lot of love put into the making the shoe.
14. What’s next for Adsum?
We’re trying to stay focused on making great clothes, and from there, building brand awareness. We’ve got a popup coming up in September in Soho (Manhattan) and a shoe collaboration. There’s some great things in the pipeline.
15. We know that you walk around Manhattan/ Brooklyn a lot – where are your top spots?
Greenpoint, Williamsburg, Prospect park for laps on my bike, Pencil Factory for a pint.