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You Heard It Here First

Our very first iSpy — Michael Moskowitz, designer of Gytha Mander's Orientalist/hipster couture — was featured in the San Francisco Chroncile this weekend as one of the rising stars of West Coast fashion. Since the owner of the SFC was … Read More

By / March 26, 2007

Our very first iSpy — Michael Moskowitz, designer of Gytha Mander's Orientalist/hipster couture — was featured in the San Francisco Chroncile this weekend as one of the rising stars of West Coast fashion. Since the owner of the SFC was once bitten on the foot by a kimodo dragon, we don't mind pasting the squib entire. Enjoy:

GYTHA MANDER

Urban hipster guy

How to explain the Gytha Mander line? First, there's the strange, tongue-twister name.

What — you're not well versed in Old English?

It means ''a gift from me,'' said Michael Phillips Moskowitz, 28, a vocabulary nut who'd be a killer crossword puzzler if he had the time. As it is, he has two full-time jobs; by day he's the editor of Todo magazine, a monthly urban entertainment guide he started a year ago that can be found in city cabs and hotels.

The rest of the time the verbally confident Moskowitz is a fashion designer. His menswear line — striped shirts, silk ties, tailored blazers and leather holsters that strap under the arm, are for a guy with a healthy ego. In answer to the question of why, exactly, a guy needs a $250 leather "holster'' for his cell phone, Moskowitz replies, "When you're wearing tight jeans — look at mine — where are you supposed to put all your things?'' The holster comes equipped with pockets for your credit cards, iPod and phone, and pen-holder-like loops for cigarettes. "I designed these when I was still an avid smoker. I've since quit.''

For spring '07, his fifth collection, Moskowitz — who has had no formal fashion training and who started out designing herringbone and pinstriped T-shirts to wear under jackets — was inspired by Baghdad, of all places.

"It's called "re-imagining Baghdad,'' he said. "Assuming things had gone differently in Baghdad, it would be, like Beirut was in the '50s and '60s, the Paris of the Middle East. And this is what neo-colonials ought to be wearing.''

His dress shirts come with contrasting patterns on the collar, under the cuffs and on the inside placket. Add the holster and you've got "the aplomb of a soldier, the pomp of a dandy and the attitude of a weapons anti-trafficking officer,'' Moskowitz explains, as only he can.

Even though he has been in the fashion world for several years, last year was the time he began to get noticed. His line was singled out in the Best of the Bay issue of S.F. Weekly; it was chosen label of the month by Esquire U.K.; Moskowitz was chosen as one of the new guard emerging designers by GenArt San Francisco; and he is backed by Revel Industries, a San Francisco fashion collective that provides financial, graphic and operational support.

Moskowitz, a Palo Alto native, believes the Bay Area is inductive to creativity and success: "This is an arable economic landscape. As a fashion entrepreneur, it can be a very promising landscape,'' he says. "There's less competition and therefore it's easier to succeed. And I love designing shirts and blazers for our Mediterranean climate.''

– Basics: Dress shirts, $175; holsters, $250; ties, $85.

– Where to find: RAG and Mingle in San Francisco; Fred Segal (holsters) in Los Angles; Tokyo; and custom orders, www.revelindustries.com.

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