01 Where does the name Krammer & Stoudt originate?
Krammer is Mike's mother's maiden name and Stoudt is his father's name.
02 So how did Krammer & Stoudt come about, and what have been some of the biggest inspirations for the brand along the way?
We started in 2012 out of our house in Anaheim, CA, with cash we got from family and friends for our 'honeymoon'. We used the cash to pay for our first samples, which were made in Orange County by clients I had in my photo biz who happened to also have an apparel manufacturing business.
At first, we were really focused on telling a 'California' story, since Mike is a native Californian and had lived there his whole life. We thought we would do something inspired by Old Hollywood so that we could incorporate suiting into the collection. But soon we evolved from that concept into something more personal to Mike's life experience, something that drew from his youth skating and surfing, his young adulthood as an artist/musician into punk, and his adulthood with the love affair with the Southwest and its culture, and our time in NYC.
Now we combine these elements of inspiration with the experience we've had within the industry over the past 5 years, traveling to Europe, being exposed to the insane culture of Pitti Uomo, and to the broader world of menswear globally. Each collection matures in terms of design and textiles, reflecting Mike's growing familiarity with the menswear world.
03 Krammer & Stoudt’s collection really stands out on a rack - what are you usually looking for when it comes to finding the right fabric and textiles each season?
Our goal is to stand out in every retailer's assortment. There are plenty of outstanding 'Made in America' brands offering quality basics for guys. We want to offer something unique and special to enhance that closet, to make sure that our clients know K&S is the brand to go to for special piece that really sets off the rest of their wardrobe. An awesome outerwear piece that makes a dress shirt and jeans look amazing. Or a beautiful shirt that enhances his chino's and bomber.
04 With such a unique design aesthetic and original voice in men’s fashion, who is the clientele that you imagine when putting pen to paper?
We always talk about the Krammer & Stoudt Man. Lol… It’s a guy we recognize on the street regularly. Someone who just has that hard to describe style and attitude, that isn’t ego, just confident in expressing himself creatively thru his style choices, without being a ‘fashionisto’ or some kind of show off. Effortless and impeccable at the same time. There’s always an unexpected element, or the way his trousers fit, or the choice of shoes, that just snaps it all together.
A lot of our inspiration has been Mike’s personal style, which is such a hybrid of his experiences, and is very eclectic, actually. But it’s always made up of really wearable, ordinary pieces, with a few vintage accents from his collection, that just ups the ante. So we try to design K&S with the same viewpoint, so that the consumer can easily put together an amazing outfit without really having to go outside the comfort zone of his shopping habits. It’s not like K&S is really avant-garde, by any stretch. It’s that we consider carefully the textiles and designs to be worn together or with other brands’ pieces really perfectly.
"we evolved into something more personal to Mike's life experience, something that drew from his youth skating and surfing, his young adulthood as an artist/musician into punk, and his love affair with the Southwest and its culture, and our time in NYC."
05 What have been some of the most challenging and rewarding aspects of launching a menswear brand?
The most challenging aspect was the self teaching process, both in design/production, and in the business. Mike has taught himself everything about the technical design process from the beginning, and I’ve been teaching myself everything about how to run a business, first, and how to run a menswear brand, also. It’s been very very hard, but very rewarding, to say the least. We pinch ourselves all the time that we’ve come as far as we have, and that we enjoy as much success as we do.
The most rewarding aspect, I have to say, is the life experience we’ve gained by doing this brand. It has taken us to so many beautiful places, and we’ve met such warm and supportive friends in the industry, it’s really very surprising. We girded ourselves for the industry to be dog-eat-dog when we started, thinking no one would be helping us along the way. But the opposite has been true. Our fellow brands, most of whom we’ve met thru doing Liberty Fairs these last few years, have been our greatest champions and the best support system ever. It’s really unbelievable.
The Liberty team and Ouigi Theodore, of Brooklyn Circus, have been our earliest and most devoted support system, and there will never be enough words to express how grateful we are to Sam, Sharifa, Eitan, Preston, Ouigi and Nicole. They’ve seriously been so instrumental in helping us succeed in a business that we knew, literally, nothing about when we arrived in NY.
06 We know you’re studio and home is located in DUMBO. Does the neighborhood play a role in Krammer & Stoudt’s production/inspiration?
We LOVE Dumbo. Finding a spot here to combine our work and life has been such a blessing. What we didn’t know when we moved over here, was the rich art history of Dumbo as one of the first enclaves for artists searching for affordable live/work spaces back in the late 80’s and early 90’s. There is still a very supportive creative community in Dumbo, and it has provided us with friends and partners for sample sales, photo studio space, meeting places, etc. It’s pretty amazing.
For inspiration, and just quiet meditative time (so important), it’s so awesome to be so close to Brooklyn Bridge Park and to be able to take in the incredible views of the city and the East River from here. Not to mention we have Brooklyn Roasting Co literally downstairs for much needed caffeine. And Modern Anthology is only one block away!!
07 Walk us through a day in the life at Krammer & Stoudt. What does that look like?
Coffee. Emails. To do list. Depending on the time of year/season, we are usually in the midst of sample making, production, and marketing of the current seasons every day. So Mike is in the Garment District of NYC daily pretty much, and I am at my computer overlooking the river and the city, pounding away at the keyboard (like I am now!) or on the phone. Pretty glamorous.
"We want to offer something unique and special to enhance that closet, to make sure that our clients know K&S is the brand to go to for a special piece that really sets off the rest of their wardrobe."
08 With Mike’s background in design, who are some of your favorite artists?
There have been some important contemporary artists in Mike’s life, people who moved him when he was in art school, and who, upon revisitation from his perspective as a designer, became significant inspirations for particular collections. German artists have always been close to his heart bc of his German blood (he is first generation American, born to a mother from Munich), so he based AW16 around the work, personality, and dapper style of German artist Markus Lupertz.
The artists living permanently on our coffee table and bookshelves include drawings by the poet William Blake, Egon Schiele, Peter Doig, Gerhard Richter, A.R. Penck, Martin Kippenberger, Francis Picabia, and the usual suspects, Picasso, Cezanne, Gauguin, and Spanish artist Velazquez.
With my background in photography, I have introduced him to some photographers’ work whom I really admire, Danny Lyon, Mike Brodie, Irving Penn, Bruce Davidson, William Eggleston, Vivienne Sassen, and we both talk extensively about where the attitudes and aesthetics intersect with an artist who is inspiring a collection. We both love Wim Wenders and Wes Anderson films.
From fashion, he looks to Italians Brioni, Berluti, and Boglioli, and of course, Ralph Lauren, regularly, with admiration for some of the more outsider designers like Umit Benan and Greg Lauren. I think when Mike looks at other brands and designers, he looks for those that innovate thru textiles and storytelling, and with an eye towards new silhouettes that he finds interesting.
09 What are some of your favorite “Go-To” spots in DUMBO or Brooklyn/NYC in general?
Of course, Modern Anthology! Lol...
Ok, but also how can we not be at Brooklyn Roasting Co almost every day, and Front General Store for vintage is unbelievable. We like to take friends over to Superfine for Southwest inspired brunch or crazy Southern gourmet dinners.
Love our pal Bram’s new shop over in Williamsburg, Upstate Stock, who also has genius craft latte’s to die for, and Northern Grade’s Seaport storefront is so charming for Sunday afternoons. We’ve been running away to Hudson, NY here and again for weekends, which is really lovely for vintage furniture shopping, one of our favorite things.
In NYC, Mike used to spend literally every evening and more at the old OK Cigars on West Broadway right next door to RRL, but since they closed and became a Free People (!) he has to catch up with cigar smoking friends at the Soho Cigar Lounge. Or we go over and hang out on the LES with Dr. Dave in lawn chairs occupying a parking spot. Lol. He does spend a lot of time at the Nat Sherman Townhouse on 42nd and 5th Ave since it’s close to the Garment District and he loves Sherman cigars.
Brooklyn Bridge Park is a dream and living so close to it is just awesome. For places outside NY, we love vintage shopping in Long Beach, and discovered some outstanding vintage spots in Las Vegas, actually, including one, Patina Décor LV, that is truly exceptional. We’ve been taking ourselves to downtown Vegas to eat when we’re there for the shows, and that has been a breath of fresh air, for sure.
In Austin, you can’t get better than SoCo for strolling/shopping and The Continental Club for live music, but East Austin is full of awesomeness.
10 We’re very excited for the new Spring/Summer collection. Any collaborations or special projects on the horizon that you can share?
We are super stoked to be dropping some sneakers, if you can imagine, with friends we met at Pitti Uomo while there with Liberty Fairs, from Amsterdam. We did 2 styles of sneaker, lace up and slip on, using fabrics from our SS17 collection to make the sneakers. They are gorgeous. We are going to release a few more styles for AW17, and hope to continue doing this with them for a bit. We will have the sneaks online at our site, krammer-stoudt.com by mid April.
11 Any words of advice to those who are maybe looking to start their own clothing brands?
Wow. You might want to know more than we did when we started. Lol. Or maybe not. We joke frequently that our ignorance was bliss, bc I think when people really know how hard it is to get it going, they often choose not to take that on. But I can’t think of anything either of us have done in our lives that has been so rewarding or challenging, or fun. The people in the industry are just amazing. Much more humble and supportive than we would have ever imagined.
I recommend starting slow, maybe putting a few pieces together in a very tightly merchandised selection, limiting the amount of production you take on early, so you know you can afford it. Limited edition pieces are not that weird anymore. Making relationships is key, and befriending your fellow brands and supporting each other in social media, and collaborating when you can, can really propel your profile forward and can be mutually beneficial, without a doubt.
Or just be incredibly rich already, and then you have nothing to worry about. Have good taste, if that’s the case. That’s all. Lmao