We were given the chance to have a chat with Christian McCann, owner of the acclaimed NYC based denim house, Left Field NYC. Over the course of this interview he tells us what his company is all about, why raw denim is so significant to him and his line, and where he wants to take the Left Field NYC in the future.
RD: Please state your name and role in Left Field NYC
CM: Christian McCann. Creator, Owner, Designer, Production Manager, Accounts Receivable, Shipping Manager – I pretty much do everything.
RD: Can you give us a little bit of insight into Left Field NYC‘s history, along with what spurred you to create the brand?
CM: Left Field started in Brooklyn on Atlantic Ave. in ’98, after trying to find a job in NYC and deciding the corporate life wasn’t for me.
I had 6 months unemployment from a job back in Philly buying men’s clothing for Anthropologie (I had no idea what I was doing at the time). I used to collect vintage clothing from Thrift Stores in North Philly and I thought I would try to sell them to Japan. Problem was, I didn’t even have a proper internet connection back then (approx. 1993), much less a way to connect with Japanese buyers.
But, the seed was planted. I worked with an Italian manufacturer to create a military inspired collection while on a buying trip in Italy, and that gave me the confidence to start my own brand after relocating to NYC.
I was inspired by all the cool ass clothes I was seeing in Japanese fashion magazines, not to mention the lack of interesting American men’s clothing at the time. But, I felt like with the Japanese designers, you could tell that they didn’t grow up in America. Their interpretation was different.
I had the idea to do vintage style sweatshirts. I wanted to make them with the old school chenille letterman patches and wool felt stitched letters. I got yelled at a lot in Chinese, and had a lot of Garment District factory doors slammed in my face. I remember calling fabric Mills and asking for sweatshirt fabric, and they all hung up on me. I wreaked of inexperience.
RD: What ﬁrst sparked your interest in raw denim?
CM: When you start out raw, it’s like having a blank canvas. Your jeans become a fingerprint. A document of your life experience. Something totally unique. To me, it’s soulless to buy jeans that have fake whiskering and finishing. I cringe when I see people wearing jeans with bad bleaching all over them. I can’t understand why anyone would wear something so dreadful.
RD: What do you think is the most important part of making a quality pair of raw selvedge jeans?
CM: Jeans are fairly simple, like a hamburger. So, it’s all about using quality ingredients. There are a lot of people making quality jeans in America, and using Cone White Oak denim and blah blah blah, but what differentiates my jeans from the others is the personality of the brand.
I always try to incorporate some history in my clothing. The denim is inspired by coal miners. I grew up two hours away from the Anthracite capital of the world, and I’ve always thought there was no tougher worker then a coal miner. And not that romantic, old west gold mining story.
Just pure grit. Tough ass American men working in the pit of hell, claustrophobic spaces underground, cold and wet with no natural light and black dust in their lungs.
RD: Which piece from the Left Field line is your favorite and why?
CM: I like the new Half Moon Duck Hunting Vests a lot. I used Martexin waxed fabric for the shell and Woolrich for the liner. Both companies that have been doing their craft in America for decades and making really special workwear fabrics.
I love the half moon opening, but I added a piece of fabric to the vest so the moon wouldn’t overlap when buttoned like the original. That bothered me and I felt it was a necessary change. I kept the original fowl pocket on the back in case anyone actually went hunting in it. Although, I doubt many of customers will. Fortunately, it also fits an iPad perfectly.
RD: What is the next step for Left Field?
CM: Just want to keep expanding the product line. I started the line with no money and regret not coming out with a proper collection because of it, like other brands with big financial backing. I would like to open a store in NYC in the near future so I can finally merchandise the brand the way I think it should be.