Over the past several years, Marc Daniels and Ricky Hendry of the cult brand Isaora (pronounced “ee-sah-or-rah”) have been pioneering a brilliant new look to performance sportswear as well as designer menswear. Residents at the prestigious Council of Fashion Designers of America Fashion Incubator on 7th Avenue in New York City this year, the duo is now poised to take modern active wear to the mainstream. On the heels of a new collaboration with Quiksilver and a brand new website, we recently caught up with Daniels to learn more about the brand, from the origins of its name to conquering high fashion.
M: Where did the inspiration for the brand come from?
MD: Isaora was born from an appreciation of advanced technical apparel and a frustration that we couldn’t find anything that suited our lifestyle or aesthetic in that category.
M: And the name?
MD: The name is derived from a Spanish phrase that’s popular in South America (where I spent a fair amount of time in my youth) “Ahora Si.” It loosely translates as “Now Yes,” but is used as a rallying cry to the effect of “now’s the time, let’s go!”
M: How do you define the Isaora man?
MD: The Isaora man combines an active urban lifestyle, a love of good design in all its forms, an understanding and appreciation of quality, and a taste for adventure.
M: What is Isaora best known for?
MD: Progressive style and premium performance. For example, our Minimal Bomber from Fall 13, a seemingly simple bomber jacket re-imagined in a bonded knit fabric with a waterproof treatment and a laser cut and welded construction. It’s the combination of a very relevant fashion staple with absolutely cutting-edge materials and manufacturing.
M: You had your first fashion week presentation in September. How was that for you and are you going to do another?
MD: It was exhausting. We were still blacking out the space at 6 am because we decided to do a light show in a space with huge windows in the middle of the day! It was also an important opportunity to show what Isaora is about in the context of our choice. The reaction was really positive. We’ll do it again for sure, but we don’t feel obliged to participate in the circus that is fashion week every season.
M: Isaora’s not exactly cheap. How do you justify the prices of the collection?
MD: We absolutely don’t want to be cheap, but once people understand what goes into the product they quickly realize we do offer exceptional value. We only use premium materials and work with some of the best factories in the world. Quality is of fundamental importance to us and is something we refuse to compromise on. That comes at a cost, but it’s all relative
M: You’ve had several collaborations. How important are they to the brand?
MD: The right collaborations are those which allow us to introduce Isaora to a new audience and make sense from a brand perspective. We’re not going to sell out; if we don’t believe in the project it’s a non-starter. It’s got to be fun and mutually beneficial on some level. That’s pretty much the criteria.
M: Ultimately what makes Isaora different from a Nau or an Aether or Icebreaker?
MD: Err…no disrespect to those brands, they’re good at what they do. I’d say we’re definitely more progressive and dialed in on the fashion side of things.
M: There’s definitely an active influence in fashion. Do you see this being more than just a passing trend, particularly at the high fashion level?
MD: Good question…hard to say. I do believe that we’ve been making clothes the same way since basically the invention of the sewing machine! And it’s a natural progression that the materials and manufacturing of clothing will eventually evolve and move forward. In that respect technical and performance attributes are only going to become more prevalent.
M: We’re digging the new website. What do you want it to convey?
MD: Everything we stand for and represent!
M: Tell me about your newest ambassadors and just how do you get to become an Isaora ambassador?
MD: They are people we respect who we feel represent the brand. They are our friends and peers who live the lifestyle that defines Isaora. We’d love to hear from anyone who fits that description!
M: Finally, what can we expect from Isaora in the spring and the must-have pieces for Spring 2014?
MD: For Spring 14 we were interested in street/sport archetypes and designed the collection around certain enduring iconic pieces—the bomber jacket, the sweatpants, the jean jacket, for example. We set about re-imagining these pieces through the Isaora filter, incorporating advanced materials and construction throughout the line.