If you’re looking for clothing with a great story to tell, look no further than the wares of menswear designer Martin Keehn.
Originally from Fargo, North Dakota and raised in Seattle, everything Keehn touches has an influence steeped in culture, art, or music, and it shows. His clothing and accessories are filled with references like Judy Garland and the place of her death — Chicago, and a sweatshirt with gun holsters that speaks to the current gun control debate and the desensitization of violence (as well as a personal longing for a coat he didn’t buy in Seattle 30 years ago).
His contemporary takes on masculine ideals and “bro culture” appeals to a broad swath of culture consumers, from fashion mavens to hip-hop heads to pop princesses, skateboarders and rockers. He specializes in accessories, jeans, shorts, T-shirts, hoodies, outerwear, and leather pieces in limited runs; as well as providing custom design, services and special orders. The product lines are geared toward an “art-minded, fashion-obsessed, multi-racial street smart demographic.”
Keehn, who also consults for Calvin Klein and has created custom and performance pieces for the likes of A$AP Rocky, Rihanna, Bowie, Madonna, and Khalid, first found himself in the fashion world with a collection called WearMart. But with a business partner whose heart wasn’t all in it, Keehn decided to go out on his own in 2010 to create his own label.
Having been in his original Lower East Side space at 27 1/2 Essex Street for seven years, Keehn packed up and moved around the corner to 53 Ludlow Street this past August. Now several months later he feels great about the space and is ready to make its official debut just in time for Frieze New York.
“I’m really excited to have this launch event and celebrate this community,” says Keehn. “There is a lot going on in the Lower East Side these days. A new Ace Hotel is coming as well as being close to my favorite neighborhood haunts — Dimes restaurant and the Metrograph movie theater. I’m glad to be a part of the building energy of the neighborhood and excited about showing locals and visitors what the Lower East Side is really about.”
Keehn’s opening celebration on Friday is set to be one for the record books. As with past events, collaborations with Keehn’s circle of artist friends are going to be highlighted throughout the night. For this launch Keehn has partnered with Jared Buckhiester, Joe Mama-Nitzberg and illustrator Richard Haines for micro-runs of tees and surprise giveaways.
Keehn will celebrate the opening of his new store at 53 Ludlow Street on Friday, May 3 from 7pm until midnight.
Photos by Joshua Jordan