After architect Jeff Johnson graduated from Pratt Institute and moved to the Netherlands for gigs at UNstudio and MESH, he struggled to find durable, design-focused jackets built to withstand Amsterdam’s intense winters. So three years later, in 2013, he returned to New York City and promptly teamed with Kal Vepuri to launch The Arrivals, a digital-exclusive brand that injects design tropes into statement outerwear. Initial collections sport clever architectural nods: a rust-hued bomber’s lack of ornamentation evokes Herzog & de Meuron’s windowless Vitra Schaudepot building, while a waterproof suede-and-shearling overcoat is akin to a wearable HVAC system.
Since then, the narrative has slightly evolved. The brand’s FW 2019 release, dubbed Oasis, retains its forebears’ architectural verve, but sports thick shearling construction more suited for a winter hike in the mountains than a night on the town. “We wanted to develop a collection that helps you get outdoors and stay present while in the elements,” says Johnson, who drew heavy inspiration from the graphic lines and primary color palette of ‘60s-era Alpine ski culture. When he says present, he means it: a new puffer series debuts composite non-conductive stowaway pockets that temporarily block incoming and outgoing signals from connected devices.
Why the shift from city to country, connected to off-the-grid? “We’ve witnessed a growing gap between traditional fashion houses and function-first outdoor brands,” he says, further citing how industrialization and technology are yielding more time spent inside, contrary to our natural state as an outdoor species.
This mission fuels the 2019 edition of The Arrivals annual pop-up. Titled OutThere Lab, it opens in Soho, New York, on Oct. 5. Designed in collaboration with Early Spring, an experiential firm whose founder, Kamil Tyebally, was involved with Refinery29’s 29 Rooms series, OutThere Lab acts as a reimagined community resource center. Inside, the latest Arrivals collection is organized into various head-to-toe “packing lists” built to withstand desert, rainforest, and Arctic tundra climates. By traversing each weather-specific zone, users experience sensory and tactile conditions that beckon the use of the latest launches, a collection of outerwear and accessories that include technical cashmere knits along with an inaugural line of eyewear and small leather goods.
Every design detail, from the translucent polycarbonate partitions to the nature-themed soundscapes, empowers users to revisit their primal instincts, Johnson says. “We’re creating a toolkit to embrace the elements—not one in search of rescue, rather one that embraces the journey within the world at large.”
OutThere Lab opens at 26 Mercer Street, New York, on Oct. 5.