Men's Fashion

How Does Rowing Blazers Do It?

This was a decision made very early on for Carlson. While the company does have its core proprietary line, which gained attention early on in 2017 and 2018 (think of their croquet-striped pieces that have been a hit for years), much of the fanfare around the brand comes from its continual output of capsule collections that people want to wear. It isn’t a simple co-branding opportunity for either Rowing Blazers or its collaborator; instead, each collection released is a wholly unique set of garments and accessories built from the ground-up which highlights the collaborator’s brand.

Sonic the Hedgehog x Rowing Blazers collaboration

Sonic the Hedgehog collaboration

For Carlson, it’s not about half-assing it for the sake of putting new SKUs in their shop. But to make the products from brands he loves in the best way possible. He puts it this way, “I could go out there and source the material and make my own wax jacket, or I could go right to the people that make the best wax jackets and ask them to work with us. I don’t want to just make a product, I want to make the best product with the best people.”

Rowing Blazers’ success in the collaboration sphere came early for the brand. Having launched only in 2017, by 2018 they had secured menswear legends like J. Crew, J. Press, Noah and British wunderkind Luke Edward Hall for capsule lines. These successful launches would help to garner further attention, more collaborations, and solidify Rowing Blazers as a success. In the last three years as the brand has taken off, Rowing Blazers can count Barbour, the NBA, Sperry and Harry’s New York Bar as collabs. And maybe the biggest attention right now comes from their latest partnership with Seiko, which sold out in about a week.

But it isn’t just brand behemoths which make up the composite of Rowing Blazers’ identity, but ones that have an emotional response for Carlson. Jack, having grown up in the 1990’s between the U.S. and England, uses his own cultural references as a jumping-off point for collaborations as well. For instance, there was a Sonic the Hedgehog collab earlier this year. Last year, we saw Babar, King of the Elephants, emblazoned across polos, crewnecks and baseball caps. And most notably (and Instagram-worthy) of all might just be Princess Diana’s iconic black sheep sweater from Warm & Wonderful, which Rowing Blazers brought back to life after nearly 40 years since its first release.

Rowing Blazers x K-Swiss

K-Swiss collaboration

“Ultimately,” he says, “it’s a pretty fluid process. It just has to feel right for the brand and for me and it has to be organic. That’s really important when we’re looking at what to do next.” And while brands often reach out to him these days to tee up a collaboration, Carlson isn’t opposed to making the first call himself (for example, with Babar, he cold called the Canadian television network, Nelvana, who owned the license for the cartoon elephant). The main thing is to continue to reinvent and challenge traditional notions of prep while still elevating the brand through the lens of Jack’s own interests and personal taste. While each collaboration has been a success, I recently asked Carlson if he still had a dream collaboration in mind. To Jack, each partnership has been a dream because, as he puts it, these partnerships “have legitimized my own dream of the brand.”

Each collaboration has ultimately fit itself into the mosaic, the tapestry, the gestalt of Rowing Blazers. And while we’ll just have to wait to see what collab drops next, I can assure you, no matter what it is, it’s only going to enhance the brand and highlight the big tent approach to design, which makes any collaboration—from a Sega character to a Japanese watch brand—feel totally natural and completely at home with Rowing Blazers.