"WE ARE MORE THAN FASHION"
Clothing is more than colored pieces of fabric sewn together. Fashion, like any other medium, is meant to say something. Harry Epstein and Aidan Kaye embrace this mentality wholeheartedly with their company, Gracious Mfg. Their belief is simple: when you wear Gracious, you are gracious.
Epstein fell in love with clothes at a young age. He bought his first pair of Diesel Jeans in fourth grade, and the purchase served as a catalyst for his venture into the world of fashion. He recognized that the clothing you choose can be a way not only to increase confidence, but also "[to be] your own artist on the most minimal level". Born and raised in Westport, Connecticut, Epstein was surrounded by the homogeneity of Patagonia, Vineyard Vines, and other similar brands. This culture of conformity only encouraged Epstein to challenge the norms of his town later on.
In 2013, Epstein started churning out stellar clothing, but soon realized that his lackluster brand had created a disconnect. To be successful in the fashion industry, a company has to discover a way to bridge the gap between the corporate and creative sides by forming a brand that consumers can connect with. People do not just want to wear clothes; they want to wear a symbol, which they do by selecting clothing that stands for something and allows them to be a part of something bigger. As the company grew and Epstein brought Aidan Kaye on board, Gracious Manufacturing Attire became Gracious Mfg. and finally began finding its voice. Their vision is minimalist and trendy while still being wearable. Epstein, a long time lover of denim, lives by the rule that if your clothes can't be worn with a pair of jeans, you just might be doing something wrong.
What makes this brand so special is that it is a product of real life. The iconic hand, a symbol that graces almost every piece of clothing produced by the company, precedes the brand by a few years. The spin-off of the classic "hang loose" symbol was something that Epstein and friends came up with in high school. They used it just to say "what's up" when they would see each other around. Just as its popularity spread in Westport, people toss it up when they see Epstein around Ann Arbor—it has become almost instinctual. The general palatability amongst Gracious Mfg.'s target age group, 16 to 28, is what Epstein believes will make them so successful in the future.
Epstein and Kaye's critical eye on conformity is embodied in the mission of MUSIC Matters.
...ignite positive social change through large-scale, disruptive events that simultaneously build community, spark ideas and help repair the world.
The duo is open to every form of collaboration and regularly showcases talent that they feel is not getting the notice they deserve. This past summer at their pop-up show in the Lower East Side of New York City, they featured multiple local rap artists. It is these types of cooperative events that promote innovation and creativity, which is exactly what exemplifies the goal of MUSIC Matters.
From a hand signal between friends to the creation of brand, Gracious Mfg. has remained a company to watch. Be sure to check out their table at SpringFest this Wednesday, the 13th!
Stay Gracious and Go Blue.