Having been a significantly undersaturated and overlooked demographic, the sartorial desires of the discerning male consumer have yet to be satiated. Svbscription, launching today, bills itself as a luxury lifestyle service for men, and assures us that its quarterly parcels sent to the doorsteps of its members will be filled with on-trend, curated products in full form; not samples or discounted clearance items. Each parcel is carefully constructed under a theme which guides its contents, with the inaugural send-out exploring what travel means to the modern man. As a kind of hybrid form of retail, Svbscription fulfills an aesthetic need based upon science, combining the best practices of magazine editorial with the novelty and convenience of online retail.
The team behind Svbscription appears aptly suited to the task of curating and delivering fine things. The three co-founders in Marc Goldenfein, Sam Wheeler and Andrew Apostola share a wealth of experience working across editorial and luxury retail. Based out of New York, Mr Wheeler has been a consultant to the likes of Hermès, Rosa Cha, DVF, Jill Stuart, Steven Alan, Vince, Valentino, Rachel Antonoff, Madewell and Barneys for over 10 years, while Mr Goldenfein and Mr Apostola both have headed up editorial for highly regarded online platforms (this publication included).
As co-founder Sam Wheeler describes, a Svbscription membership provides the subscriber with behind the scene access to a coveted industry.
“There is a specific guy we are curating each parcel for,” says Mr Wheeler. “‘He is already secure with what he shops for and where he travels, but does not have the time to continually search for those substantial objects and experiences as they become discovered.”
As the contents of each parcel is not revealed until it arrives at the homes and offices of subscribers, a considerable amount of importance is placed on the process of curation. For this, the Svbscription team has worked closely with Mr Wheeler’s long time collaborator Dino Siampos, identifying the many stores and brands they have worked with through their business Aux Armes. As you can see from the featured video, produced by Roandco Studio, the roles they have undertaken with Svbscription engage the keen eye they have developed in their work, which has resulted in the construction of an experience that is both thoughtful, fulfilling, and most of all, aesthetically appealing.
On the eve of its launch celebration, Mr Wheeler and Mr Siampos took a moment to share with Portable the creative process in designing the parcel that will bring an all new meaning to “you’ve got mail”.
Portable: Archived images of your work in 2010 reflected an influence in symmetry and surrealism. In 2011, your visual displays brought nature to the platform, with a great deal of wood, foliage and various other organic elements. What would you consider to be the aesthetic inspiration driving your work with Svbscription in 2012?
Svbscription: It’s interesting, but we have never really thought of our work in terms of overall visions over a period, always focusing more on the client’s style and the story of the season. I suppose it is natural that a certain way to thinking would carry over from project to project, one idea leading into the next, as well as the cultural zeitgeists that lead us all to the same solutions. One thing that has been a noticeable change over the past few years has been the increase in budget and creative control we have received, which perhaps gets us closer and closer to the kind of work we’d really like to be making. That said, the overriding aesthetic guiding us this year with subscription is less material based and more conceptual; it is a comfortable modernity and an combination of materials and styles. Graphically we looked at a lot of Bauhaus typography and worked with our favorite branding geniuses at RoandCO to make an aesthetic that felt dignified but fun, a contemporary, confident masculinity.
P: You both balance a love for design as well as music (having performed in the band Soft)- how does your work in Aux Armes Etc and your latest effort Svbscription mediate that balance?
Svbscription: I would say we manage a balance in the same way a tornado appears to be balanced on the ground. We look forward to a little break eventually to go finish up some music projects in the not-to0-distant future, but for the moment our current projects are keeping us more than occupied.
P: The mission of Aux Armes Etc states that it seeks not to illuminate the product in visual set design, but rather the identity of the brand. What is your method in fleshing out the spirit of a brand to become visible to the human eye, and how does this relate to Svbscription?
Svbscription: When we take a concept from the notebook or bar napkin into the next stage of the process, that of making it into a functioning display for product, we always start the thought process with the DNA of the brand we are working with. A single idea could be realized countless ways, and finding the right fit is part of the fun of our work. The brand is in the material used, the finish, the level of execution (Madewell might feel a little rough and unfinished while Hermes would be perfect and seamless from every angle, just like the product) and ultimately in the way the story is told (with a sense of humor, a simple one liner, a more complex metaphor, etc). Ultimately, this process is what takes an idea from being just our own vision to our story told through the brand’s language.
With Svbscription, we are the client, so it is an interesting twist on our normal client relationship. Working with the guys (Andrew, Simon and Marc) and with RoandCo’s help, we have worked to create a visual language from the website through the box, through the products themselves that speaks to our identity. It is about finding that sophisticated-but-not-uptight style for every element.
P: As your work illuminates the identity of a brand as opposed to the product, how does Svbscription seek to illuminate the individual through your curated collections?
Svbscription: We are both lovers of objects, and understand how something as seemingly trivial as the right watch or pair of shoes or lamp can effect a person’s outlook. As we pick our objects we try to find things that don’t so much change a person’s style, so much as augment or enhance the style that they have. We won’t look at trend pieces or loud statement pieces for the project, because those are decisions that every guy should make for himself and the Svbscription guy is confident enough to know what his style is. The pieces we look for are what is just below that, the constants, the little things that compliment not only the man’s aesthetic, but the man himself. We know this is a pretty lofty goal for a little parcel, but with all the products in the world out there, we have to have a pretty high-minded filter.
You can visit and apply for a membership at www.svbscription.com.