“When I decided to stop supporting the wool industry, it became incredibly difficult to find quality men’s suits,” Katcher tells Ecouterre. Most people don’t realize that most of a suit’s myriad components are derived from animals, he says, whether it’s “horse-hair or wool interfacing and interlining; wool, camel hair, or cashmere collar-backing and horn buttons; leather elbow patches; or silk linings and threads.”
“When I decided to stop supporting the wool industry, it became incredibly difficult to find quality men’s suits,” Katcher tells Ecouterre.
The alternative—a more “affordable” suit from a clothing chain that uses virgin synthetic trimmings, say—is likely to be toxic, made under sweatshop conditions, or both.
Brave GentleMan’s suiting collection is the culmination of years of research, development, and fundraising. “It’s been a dream of mine to make an expertly crafted, vegan, and sustainable suit,” Katcher says. “Many designers use wool thinking it’s eco-friendly, ‘natural,’ and ‘just a haircut.'” But the reality of wool production is shocking, gruesome, and the furthest thing from ‘green.’ The Food and Agriculture Organization of the United Nations estimates that there are over 1 billion sheep in the world, specifically bred for purposes like wool, contributing 25 percent to the global total for mammals.”
The materials Brave GentleMan uses, on the other hand, are a mix of organic plant fibers and recycled synthetics from environmentally certified mills across the globe. The blazers, for instance, comprise post-consumer polyethylene terephthalate, better known as rPET, from a closed-loop facility in Japan. The belts, wallets, and shoes hail from Italy, where they’re cobbled together from nontoxic and biodegradable polyurethane.
The materials Brave GentleMan uses are a mix of organic plant fibers and recycled synthetics from environmentally certified mills.
Katcher is the first to admit that his arrangement isn’t perfect. (He would prefer to centralize production, for instance, or source more items locally.) “As most designers know, it is next to impossible to create a complicated garment like a suit from all local materials and labor,” he says. “But as I move forward I hope to smooth out any loopholes.”
With suits starting at $1,250, Katcher expects many who will balk at the price. “Someone people claim it’s classist to be offering such expensive suits, but I’d make the argument that it’s a worse offense to fool oneself into thinking that a $100 suit doesn’t destroy poor peoples’ lives and ecosystems all over the globe,” he says, describing the mainstream fashion complex as “inherently exploitative, polluting, and cruel.”
Brave GentleMan seeks to subvert this status quo with sex appeal, innovation, and daring. “A fairly made, sustainable suit, while the end-product is quite expensive, can empower working people who make it and foster sustainable textile technologies and methodologies,” he adds.