January 15, 2014
The Man Behind White Chalk
Recently you may have noticed that I have been posting images from White Chalk NYC. Well, it all came about by the owner, Arron Black pictured bottom left, reaching out to me through The Refined Gent (TRG). He liked the feel and style of what TRG represents and invited me to his store down in the Nolita section of Manhattan. When I arrived, I knew then that his story should be shared with our followers.
Originally from London, Aaron studied to be an artist but had a passion for fashion. He received notoriety for his graffiti fashion art throughout London. At that time, it was the 80’s and his art and fashion reflected that era and music always influenced his creativity. After graduation he worked for various fashion companies such as Browns, Comme Des Garcons, Josephs, Harvey Nichols and Agnes B. It was through those endeavors that he became more familiar with fabrics and the fit of a garment. From there he did PR for various fashion houses and transitioned into men’s styling for Tank Magazine. Aaron took the leap from there and became his own boss and started styling on his own for various businesses such as Brutus Magazine, Oyster Magazine, Paul Smith and MTV to name a few. He made his way across the pond and was employed by another company that specialized in men’s tailored clothing. Aaron would have his suits tailored made or bespoke and would collaborate with the suit makers intently.
Not feeling inspired at his employer at the time, his friends asked him to create their suits and so it began by opening his shop nearly two years ago. This gave him the outlet to express his own creativity and not someone else’s. “I have a lot of contempt for tailors who feed the same thing season after season but only change the fabric and the linings,” he says to me in disdain. “Another thing that really bothers me is how other businesses continue to abuse the word ‘bespoke‘. I prefer to call it ‘men’s couture’,” he says with a smile on his face. When you think about it, custom made clothing is one of a kind and predominately hand sewn just like women’s couture dresses.
White Chalk’s clients range in age from 20’s to 60’s and come from all walks of life including heavily tattooed construction workers, architects, billionaire’s sons, gay, straight — it doesn’t really matter. He understands each person’s style and is able to design quality work for his customers. In addition, he designs clothing for celebrities but prefers not to mention them by name as he respects their privacy and sees them as any other person just like you and me. His expansion of the brand will hit the streets of Los Angeles with a new store opening under the name Black Chalk with a more avant garde approach. His goal is to open different color “chalk” stores globally.
There are not that many individuals that can call themselves a true bespoke tailor. Aaron’s creativity expands to shirts, shoes, millinery, jewelry and accessories. He thinks outside of the box as you can see by the image on the top left. This wool felt sport coat was hand painted to create the white shadow effect. His use of suiting fabrics to create hats leaving the selvage to go around the crown can be seen in the center left image. He prefers to collaborate with local artisans when it comes to jewelry as pictured above right. His ties and pocket squares also come in a variety of patterns and techniques pictured at the center bottom left. The fabric selection process as well as cutting of the cloth will ensure your suit has a precise fit as pictured in the center right. If you are in or visiting NYC, I recommend you stop by and see what the fuss is all about. Tell Aaron The Refined Gent sent you. That should put a smile on his face.