Season’s Greetings: Matthew Zorpas

An inspiration when I first discovered his singular style last year, and still an enduring inspiration today, Matthew Zorpas is next up to share his plans for the now imminent festive season. PR powerhouse, fashion lecturer, creative consultant and blogger, Zorpas’s seemingly tireless enthusiasm and keen eye for fashion’s fascinating as opposed to faddish has earned him legions of fans, and I’m proud to call myself one of them.

Male-Mode: What are your plans for Christmas and the holiday season?

I am traveling to Brazil this holiday season; spending Christmas and New Year’s in Rio!

What’s been the highlight of your year so far?

Launching The Gentleman Blogger was definitely the highlight for this year. The support that I received was truly unexpected and surprising.

If you could give one gift this year, what would it be?

Unlimited holiday tickets.

And if you could receive just one gift this year, what would that be?

One Walter Van Beirendonck suit.
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Read The Gentleman Blogger

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Q+A: NUMBER: Lab

Continuing on from the sports spruced-up tendency I attempted to define, or at least draw attention to, a few months back, this is NUMBER: Lab; a label, for those of you unfamiliar, that at its core seeks to mesh a technical, sportswear influence with a tailored, formalwear-informed aesthetic. It’s triple-lined garments, reversible jackets and totes that double as backpacks that are created with equal attention to the matters of form and function. Five years since the brand’s birth, designer Luis Fernandez and business partner Greg Lawrence continue to deliver.

Male-Mode: What is NUMBER:Lab? 

Luis Fernandez: NUMBER:Lab is an American, men’s advanced-sportswear brand, for the man who is tech-savvy, athletically-minded and constantly on the go. We call it TECH+TAILORED, a collection geared towards keeping relevant in today’s modern world. Just like great architecture can impact the life of its inhabitants, we think that fashion too, should empower and enhance the performance of the wearer while still looking tailored and polished.

^ NUMBER: Lab Fall Winter 2012

Who does the team consist of? 

Greg Lawrence and I founded the company in 2007, and we both still run the company together. I am the Creative Director and Designer and Greg deals with the business and operations side of the company.

Who is the NUMBER:Lab man?

Our ideal man is a perfect blend of the intellectual-with-athletic-sensibility or the stylish-athlete-with-smarts.

Where do you glean inspiration for your designs?

Art and sports are always an initiating source of research and inspiration for me and architecture, for sure, is always very present. I’m always fascinated by athletic and performance gear; it’s such a rich and educational source, from the super-techy and futuristic to great vintage images.

Blurring the boundary between tech and tailored is your speciality, what is it about this combination of form and function that is so important to you?

I have a suspicion it might have something to do with my ‘modernist’ architectural training at Cornell. I still keep Le Corbusier’s Towards a New Architecture on my nightstand. Even 90 years later, this book still holds a very pure lesson of form plus function that can be re-interpreted for today’s modern world. Technology has started to rule and influence our lives in ways we don’t even perceive anymore. We are surrounded by apps and gadgets that enhance our daily life, and that give us more efficiency, speed and comfort. I think that our clothes should speak to that, and do the same thing.

NUMBER:Lab is currently involved in the CFDA {Fashion Incubator}; can you tell us a bit about how this program came about, and how it benefits your brand?

The CFDA {Fashion Incubator} is one of the Council of Fashion Designers of America’s programs, which supports the new generation of fashion designers. There are ten designer brands that were chosen to be a part of it, for a two-year period. It’s really quite an honor. Aside from this great space in NYC’s garment district, there is an amazing mentorship program with some of the best industry leaders. It is an incredible support system which aids in fortifying our business and helps us to be competitive in the fashion industry.

Since founding the brand in 2007, what’s been the highlight so far? And the most difficult challenge?

Oh wow, that’s quite a loaded question. It has definitely been a roller-coaster ride. That’s the fashion world for you – never a dull moment. There are tons of highs and lows (sometimes just in one day alone), and you just have to keep bobbing and weaving. You know, rolling with the punches, and that keeps you on your toes. As a designer, anything that keeps you on your toes and that keeps you moving (sometimes even running) is a good thing. You can never stop observing, learning or asking questions. It’s what propels creativity. As for an all-time high, there is no better feeling than spotting someone wearing something you’ve created. Every time. And if they make a comment about how great they feel wearing it, or if they thank you for it, it really hits you inside. It tingles, in a really good way.

You’re done and dusted with SS13, what’s next for the brand? Are there are any particular long-term goals? Interest in collaboration(s)?

Well, sort of. Now comes the production and execution of the SS13 collection, which is almost just as important. It’s the last step in making that sketch a reality. But yes, as a designer, you are always living and thinking in the future. I’m almost done with designing FW13 (it’s a bit crazy, because it doesn’t even feel like Fall 2012 has arrived yet). I’m always thinking of collaborations and design partnerships. It’s such a cool concept to bring two points of views, and two different areas of expertise, together to create something. There are a couple of them cooking which are very exciting. But our main goal is, really, to continue to grow the brand, and to continue to explore and express our point of view.

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Learn more about NUMBER: Lab | Shop NUMBER: Lab

José Morraja: Madrid Multi-tasker.

Although I wouldn’t quite describe myself as an entirely redundant oaf, I’m no productive multi-tasker either, unlike the subject of this post who not only busies himself with fashion photography, but also somehow sources the time to make some of the most exciting fashion films I’ve seen, as well as art direct on projects from interdisciplinary projects to festivals.
Phew. No wonder, then, that it took José Morraja a few extra days to answer the lengthy list of questions I sent over in preparation for this Q+A. Having earned his BA in Valencia, Spain, Morraja has seen his work featured in big-time pubs like Harper’s Bazaar and has been commissioned for brands as disparate as Diesel and Mustang. It’s not difficult to see why; Morraja’s propensity for eclecticism and his evident enthusiasm both resonate in the works he produces, from a documentary on youth in Berlin to his latest endeavour – a photo and video shoot for the v. swish Spanish Neo2 magazine, which is equal parts sexy, forceful and disorientating.

Naturally, I wanted to know a little bit more…

“In Your Room” by José Morraja for Neo2 Magazine feat. clothing by Luis Manteiga, styled by Leticia Orúe

MM: What drew you to film and photography?

JM: Photography and film are my ways of showing my feelings. I like to understand my work in an artistic way, using concepts and techniques close from different disciplines such as sculpture, performance and installation.

So, if you want to know more about myself, you have to first understand my work.

MM: Which medium do you prefer?


JM: Each medium has its own language, so it’s always very exciting to talk about the same concept via different forms. I think both of them are really important and are necessary in order for me to create interesting stories.

“About Young People in Berlin” by José Morraja for Jet Lag BIO 10 Festival, styling by Leticia Orúe

MM: Did you study to become a filmmaker/photographer?


JM: I studied Fine Arts. When I was studying in France I understood that fashion is more than a brand or a business, it’s a social feeling that we should investigate and talk about. Because of that I’ve always been interested in finding a perfect balance between art and fashion in my projects.

MM: What’s been your favourite project so far?

JM: I’ve got very good memories of my most recent project,“In Your Room” for Neo2 Magazine. It was really important for my own evolution as a photographer and filmmaker. I’ve found a new way to develop new concepts in fashion because of this.

^ From the “In Your Room” photoshoot

MM: What’s been the highlight of your career so far?


JM: 2010 was a really good year for my life and career. After living in Berlin for one year, I decided to move to Madrid. Now I’m working in very interesting projects and magazines. Neo2 has been really supportive and they engage in risky projects that nobody else would publish. I’m very proud of that.

MM: Have there been any surreal moments that stand out so far in your career?


JM: Thinking about a new and crazy project is the most surreal and exciting moment in my life. I’m fascinated by how the mind puts all one’s thoughts together and creates a new story. That’s amazing!

MM: Do you have a favourite menswear designer?

JM: I’m obsessed with Karlota Laspalas’ clothes. In my opinion, she’s the best menswear designer in Spain nowadays. She’s found the perfect way to show a contemporary man and mixes romantic and sophisticated concepts in her work. I can really identify with her style.

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See more of Morraja’s work here.