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Meet Up Monday: Takuya Duncan

Launched to online shoppers less than a month ago, Takuya Duncan is a freshly minted men’s casualwear brand that blends the relaxed sophistication of the Hamptons with quality fabrics and Japanese craftsmanship. Its founders, Aaron Duncan, an American with a long track record as a fashion creative director, marketer and consultant, and Takuya Suzuki, a native of Japan who now lives and designs in the U.S., split their time between the Long Island resort and Manhattan. They describe their new creation as “understated lux” that is “East meets East End.”

The first collection consists of just 14 styles that are all named after places in the Hamptons. The assortment encompasses tops (hoodies and tees), bottoms (pants and shorts) and two accessories (a bag and cap). Sold exclusively on the brand’s site and the specialty store Ganeux in Amagansett, this very wearable and wonderfully understated line has prices that range from $65 to $295. Last week in New York Duncan spoke to me about this already radar-worthy label….

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What inspired you to create Takuya Duncan?

One thing that inspired us was being in the Hamptons and our surroundings there. It’s sort of like the country but it’s also a sophisticated environment. We just couldn’t find the clothes that we wanted to wear there that were non-preppy but still contemporary yet casual and good quality and higher end. Something that you could wear to hang out with friends on the beach and then just go right to dinner – something that is versatile and super casual. That was pretty much the start of it.

We also wanted something that was a little bit more unique and the fits were a little bit more contemporary. When we go out there we want to chill so we want the clothing to reflect a more relaxed atmosphere with neutral tones. Everyone dresses down in the Hamptons but it’s still a sophisticated crowd. A lot of our friends dress quite preppy and that’s not our style as urban New Yorkers. We also wanted to bring that New York City element to the Hamptons. People there want to escape so we wanted clothes that you can lounge around in as well.

How does the Japanese element play into the collection?

Takuya is from Japan and there is a lot of craftsmanship in Japan. We wanted to somehow bring that in so we went to Japan in August. We met with some factories there and one is a century-old vertical kimono factory. They get and twist the yarns and then weave the fabric and make the product which is just kimonos. We asked them if they could make a couple of items for us to test the waters. They were looking to do more western-style product and their fabrics were great, particularly for the summer periods. The indigo colors and the amount of fabrications they had were amazing. We had a prototype made in New York, then we sent it to them and they agreed to make it for us.

What makes that particular fabric special?

It doesn’t shrink and it’s super strong but super lightweight at the same time. It’s 100% cotton. When people think kimonos they think silk and women’s but kimonos are actually for men and women. The fabric is quite unique in how they weave it.

We also met with a North Carolina mill and are buying some fabric from them. They do really great heavyweight French terry that is super soft and super black. You generally go overseas for that but their quality was so good. We wanted to do our ultimate hoodie, which is more tapered and more constructed.

What are your key pieces?

There are a couple of staples. One is our Japanese pants – our Montauk Pants – which are in that unique indigo fabric. Then we did our Maidstone Hoodie. And we do a matching sweatpant as well. And we’ve supplemented that with what we call our Essentials like our organic cotton T-shirts from Peru. They are super soft and have a great hand feel. Then there are some really casual shorts that work with everything else. All the pieces are interchangeable because they’re all in that neutral color palette

Who is your target customer?

It’s for the guy who doesn’t live in the Hamptons who wants to get a piece of the Hamptons. All of our products whether manufactured in Japan or New York City are all designed in the Hamptons. Maybe it can be people’s first touch points before they even get to the Hamptons.

How old is the Takuya Duncan guy?

It’s more a psychographic versus a demographic. It’s guys in their twenties, thirties and forties. It’s all wearable and it’s not crazy tight. All the product is flattering for most body types.

What sets the brand apart?

One is the point of view of the product and coming from the Hamptons lifestyle. We are an East Coast brand with a New York sensibility. And we plan on emulating more of the craftsmanship from Japan as we source additional stuff from there. Because we are partners and one is Japanese and one is American we want to incorporate that craftsmanship more evenly. For us as a brand it’s not about Japan, it’s about the Hamptons but with that added element in there. The fabrics are definitely more premium quality and I think that customers will find that they are going to love the hand feel and the fact that they are very durable.

How will you translate the beach-y feel of the collection come fall? And what about future collections?

We’re going to add luxurious cashmeres and more layering pieces that are more wintery. It’s going to be something that you can wear season after season. We’re not out at all to be über-trendy. Sometimes it’s things we’ve had in our closets for years and we just try to reinterpret those and improve on them.

Why should someone purchase your clothes?

We’re an authentic brand from the Hamptons, inspired by the Hamptons. It’s reflection of Takuya and myself and our different worlds. We’re mixing cultures. Not so much in the look of it but in the fabrics and stuff. If someone is looking for a year-round essential for their closet this is the brand they should look at. And I think we have one of the best hoodies in the market. It’s beefy, structured and it’s a slimmer cut but not tight. We would like to be known for that hoodie and our Montauk Pants from Japan. To answer another way, we’re the place for guys to get their high-end essentials.

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