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Handmade British outerwear label De Rien makes its U.S. debut at L.A.'s Feal Mor boutique

April 9, 2011 |  8:24 am

IMG_2643 You don't have to know the whole story behind British outerwear label De Rien — which makes its U.S. debut at L.A. boutique Feal Mor this week — to appreciate how covetable its unisex jackets are.

But the story of its inception adds to its appeal.

Launched by 25-year-old Cosmo Wise and his father, Richard, the tale begins with the pair mining London antique markets for period workwear — mainly French-made from the 1880s through 1940s.
Within seven years, the duo had amassed a museum-quality collection of pieces. And the condition of the garments hardly mattered — if a piece had partially deteriorated with age, they would patch it up using remnant fabrics from now-closed British and French manufacturers.

Selling from a stand in London's Portobello and Spitalfields markets, father and son garnered a reputation for their so-called "raggedy couture," luring collectors and designers, including Joseph Corre, founder of Agent Provocateur and also designer Vivienne Westwood's son.  

Eventually, the Wises rented a basement space under a men's store owned by Corre and partner Simon "Barnzly" Armitage in London's East End, calling the shop De Rien, French for "it's nothing."

All that collecting prompted the father, son and Cosmo's girlfriend, Kristina Feldman, to create a line of De Rien outerwear inspired by classic jacket shapes from WWI-era military through "The Wild One" Marlon Brando-era 1960s biker chic.

Though technically new clothes, the 16 jackets incorporate historic fabrics. Crafted from vintage British waxed cotton and Victorian linen, the garments are lined with fabrics such as Harrod's houndstooth wool from the 1950s and Scottish tartans from the 1940s. Additionally, the collars are lined with the original French "corduroy" from Velour d'Amiens from the early 20th century, and buttons are chiseled from Victorian-era bone.

Hence, De Rien jackets don't come cheap, ranging in price from $600 to $1,000. But we're pretty convinced they're worth it.

--Emili Vesilind

Photo, from left: A friend of Cosmo Wise's, Cosmo Wise and Kristina Feldman, all wearing De Rien. Credit: De Rien.