We swing open the front door of Brooklyn’s neighborhood favorite pizza joint, Roberta’s, and the blast from the piercing cold wind immediately cuts through the food coma. The last hour or so was spent speaking with ICNY founder and Creative Director, Mike Cherman who in less than two years has built up a respectable following on the basis of sportswear with a distinct element of safety casually incorporated. Cherman‘s self-professed to be quiet and under the rader, but has little problem going through the inner workings of his brand. Yes, reflective 3M hits are undoubtedly a mainstay of many of ICNY’s pieces, but there lies more to the brand philosophy – one that champions fashion that inherently works for average dude, wanting comfortable clothing that will keep up with his relatively simple needs. Acronym, Patagonia, Arc’teryx and the likes of Nike ACG, ICNY is certainly not – nor has it ever attempted to masquerade as anything more.
In the early days of ICNY’s conception, the notion of designing for that 1% who wanted the absolute best in performance, technical function and over-designed garments was the dream.
In the early days of ICNY’s conception, the notion of designing for that 1% who wanted the absolute best in performance, technical function and over-designed garments was the dream. ICNY lacked the infrastructure and funds to rigorously test and develop new technology, as well as the necessary experience in design (Cherman’s background is in graphic design) to pursue this original route. Instead, ICNY’s realigned path has paid off. It has brought a well-conceived option to an increasingly large demographic heavy into sports and activity that want just the right amount of functionality, as well as safety. You could say that ICNY’s relatively short but fruitful path has chosen partners that align on these terms. Staple Design, Jason Markk and most recently PUMA all represent an intersection of performance and functionality as well as style.
As we continued through Bushwick’s desolate midafternoon streets, we stopped in front of an indiscriminate building, nestled amongst a series of residential homes. Cherman brought us indoors as he exchanged pleasantries with the homies working inside. This tight-knit group form LQQK Studios and where Cherman originally launched ICNY. The print shop and creative studio’s space is by no means large and expansive, but houses the necessary equipment to churn out high-level product and pieces for some of the industry’s most important creative heavyweights. The work of Richardson Magazine (there is a fair amount of porn memorabilia), Tom Sachs, that Tyvek Yeezy Season 1 invite anorak, and prints from Drake’s latest If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late project have all passed through the presses here.
Cherman and ICNY’s rapid rise has meant that the brand has had more than its fair share of offers to say no to, all in hopes of making sure mistakes are minimized and the right moves are mulled over and executed appropriately.
The no-frills space is perhaps a testament to Cherman’s own vision and dedication to ICNY. Everything seems highly considered and with a particular purpose in mind for the brand, just like LQQK’s studios as a relatively small operation focused on taking on projects of interest, and never to only satisfy a means to an end. Cherman and ICNY’s rapid rise has meant that the brand has had more than its fair share of offers to say no to, all in hopes of making sure mistakes are minimized and the right moves are mulled over and executed appropriately. It’s not that ICNY and Cherman’s experiences were not without speed bumps along the way especially on the production side, but given the allure of blowing something up rather quickly, Cherman’s desire errs more on the side of caution. Product still meticulously flows through his hands, and orders are still packed by him and a small team.
The shifting of the gears and the discussion around the Faas 100 showcases ICNY’s desire and understanding to keep ICNY’s purpose in performance firmly rooted. In many ways, PUMA fulfills the type of partner that makes sense to ICNY. Roots in sports help maintain a level of authenticity and of course the multi-billion dollar sports brand has wear-tested results that ensure authenticity and performance. As we see the expansion of the brand into its own lifestyle avenues with collaborations including Alife, Vashtie, BWGH and A Bathing Ape among others, the project begins to make increasing sense.
The Faas 100 has predominantly resided in the performance realm, but ICNY’s interest has cast the shoe in a much different light.
While many of PUMA’s lifestyle partners have been primarily rooted in the German sportswear brand’s portfolio of classics, it was the low-profile and lightweight Faas 100 which caught Cherman’s eye. The Faas 100 has predominantly resided in the performance realm, but ICNY’s interest has cast the shoe in a much different light. The Faas 100’s traditionally drab overlays and contrasting upper made way for an entirely tonal red offering that of course suited a February release just fine.
The ICNY x PUMA “Heartbreaker” Faas 100 has powered out of the blocks with a sufficient bang. Those looking for a further exploration into lifestyle-orientated gear will be happy to know that there’s more on the horizon. ICNY is set to enter several seasons with PUMA which will parlay into apparel as well that will hopefully inject a little bit of ICNY’s own sportswear influence into a traditional sportswear staple in PUMA. While some were quick to lament the lack of a unique selling point that came with throwing 3M onto T-shirts and socks, ICNY’s point of differentiation is more holistic than it is any particular visual proponent. The brand’s strength lies in bridging lifestyle and performance and each passing season is a continuation of the ICNY ethos.
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